Quick and Easy

Pork Confit Shepherd's Pie

September 24, 2013

Sunday Dinners comes to us from our own chef/photojournalist/farmer/father figure Tom Hirschfeld, featuring his stunning photography and Indiana farmhouse family meals.

Today: Tom shares a meat and potatoes casserole worth making from scratch.

Pork Confit Parmintier

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It is not generally in my nature to go out of my way to make a shepherd's pie from scratch. Instead of cooking all the individual components -- breaking them down only to put them back together -- it always seems like a job best done by leftovers. I don't mean to pick on shepherd's pie alone -- this goes for most meat and potato casseroles. And while not meat and potatoes, it reminds me of the time I looked at a recipe for turkey tetrazzini and the first step in the instructions was: Roast a turkey.


This isn't to say I've never gone to extended lengths to try something new. When I first started cooking and I was eager to try new dishes, I would and regularly did. But somewhere along the line I lost the energy for this kind of pursuit.


More: Another recipe worth the effort? Honest Fried Chicken.

So you can imagine my surprise when I started making this dish from scratch. But there's a reason. Simply put, it stood out from other meat and potato pie recipes of its kind. Maybe it does so because it is made with confit. Maybe it's the onions. Maybe it's because the recipe calls for pork. Or maybe it's because it all comes together easily and without much fuss.


What I do know is each piece of this pie is important to the whole. It is what makes this Parmentier elegant and complex. It is why it is so important to build from scratch. And when I really think about it, this is why it is a joy -- not a bother -- to cook. But most importantly, it is why it is a real pleasure to eat.

Pork Confit Parmentier from Food52

Confit of Pork Parmentier

Serves 6 to 8

2 1/2 pounds whole pork loin
2 yellow onions, julienned (about a cup)
5 garlic cloves, whole with skins removed
6 thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Canola oil, peanut oil, or lard
Reserved onions and garlic from confit oil
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup half and half

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Tom Hirschfeld

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sharon
  • rainey
  • Oui, Chef
    Oui, Chef
  • thirschfeld
Father, husband, writer, photojournalist and not always in that order.


Sharon February 5, 2014
Looks good. But a boneless pork shoulder roast, or butt roast would be a much better choice for this. Pork loin is innately very dry and has little flavor, containing zero fat or marbling. Shoulder roasts, on the other hand, have loads of deep, rich (dark meat) flavor, and become achingly silky and tender when slow-roasted. In fact, you can skip the entire confit process by simply starting with a shoulder roast in the first place. Its lovely fat melts and bastes itself. I guarantee the results will be far superior. I'm a serious pork roast junkie-aficionado with Southern roots.
thirschfeld February 5, 2014
Being a pork shoulder junkie myself, make mini hams from them, Tasso and roast them all time I would normally agree with you. In this instance since you confit the loin then add some of the fat back to the meat, then cover it with potatoes that contain more fat it, well you get the picture. May I also suggest when you buy a pork loin you buy a pastured pork loin and look for one that has both the light and dark red meat that you like so much. I think you might find pastured pork loin has lots of pork flavor and is well marbled.
Sharon February 6, 2014
Oh, no doubt about it, the confit process does a LOT for a loin and definitely provides some much needed "fat intervention." I'm sure it's delicious and would be a fun project. You know, when I first set up house and began turning out dinners as a young wife, it took me a few years to figure out why some pork roasts came out more tender and flavorful than others. Then my mom schooled me on the different cuts of pork, and I discovered that the loin roasts were the ones that always disappointed. The whiter the meat the dryer the meat. That's a fact. But on the subject of pastured pork, I've heard some really good things about it. Notably, on the unctuous quality of the lard that can be rendered from the fat of this product. I found this of particular interest since I render my own pork lard. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll be on the look out for pastured pork. BTW, on America's Test Kitchen I saw them confit a pork shoulder roast and then crisp it on the grill! Super-sized carnitas. um um um! Now that's gilding the lily!
rainey September 24, 2013
I still can't believe it myself but I am, at this minute, rendering pork fat to make the confit tomorrow. The rest will follow.

I can't wait and I'm sure by the time it's ready to be tucked into I will be salivating like one of Pavlov's dogs!
thirschfeld September 24, 2013
It will be all the better for the lard! Hope you enjoy it!
Oui, C. September 24, 2013
Oh my....this one leaves me speechless, Tom. Too buy drooling, I guess.
thirschfeld September 24, 2013
Thanks Oui!