Obesity Observers – Pork & Parsnip Hachis

You know the holidays have worn off when you have to face the cold reality of a few extra pounds like an icy February morning. As I’ve said before, my goal is to continue to improve my eating habits at home. Christine, meanwhile has gotten back on the Weight Watchers track. This is something that has worked for her in the past, as long as we pay attention to it. Being the supportive husband that I am, I’m about to go headlong into the WW world.

I’m still learning the ins and outs of the system, but in effect, it aims to balance total caloric intake as well as the makeup of those calories without being overly restrictive. It’s a little intricate at first, I think, but we’ll keep at it. For the moment, I’m going to try and keep eating and cooking as I have been, and see how that stacks up against my points allowance.

One dish I’ve been playing with is Hachis Parmentier. Hachis, in French, refers to finely minced meat – usually beef – typically done to the leftovers from last night’s roast. Parmentier is a reference to Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, who among other notable contributions was a strong push for the potato to be cultivated across Europe. Basically, the dish is almost like a meatloaf or meatball mixture sandwiched between layers of mashed potato and baked in a ramekin or casserole dish.

I’ve done this successfully with leftover chicken (but that’s for another post!) but wanted to try for some other flavor combinations. We’ve become fans of puréed parsnips, so I decided to start there. If you’re not familiar with parsnips, they are a root vegetable like a white carrot, that taste like a carrot, but have a starchy texture almost like a potato. Prepare them just like mashed potatoes for an interesting side dish.

Being fresh out of leftover proteins, I had a blank carrot-y canvas to work with. I wanted something leaner than ground beef, and landed on either ground turkey or ground pork. And really, what meal isn’t made better with some form of pig? I haven’t checked the nutrition information yet, but I doubt that I had extremely lean ground pork. Ah, well; the portion size is only about 6-8 oz. of pork at the end, and I may try again next time I have a leftover pork chop hanging around.

Pork & Parsnip Hachis (serves 2)

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 12 oz parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • quatre épices, to taste (ground mixture of pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves)
  • salt, to taste

Put the parsnips in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the parsnips are fork tender, roughly 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan. Brown pork in olive oil and break into small chunks. Add onion, celery, thyme, and salt. Cook until pork is completely cooked through and vegetables are soft.

Drain parsnips. Purée in food processor with butter, quatre épices, and salt until smooth.

Assemble hachis in ramekins: Butter two large ramekins. Place a layer of parsnip purée in the bottom of each ramekin, about 1/3 of the parsnips in all. Divide the pork mixture between the two ramekins. Cover each with the remaining parsnips.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.