Pâté Chinois is a classic Canadian dish, reminiscent of the Shepherd’s Pie, but with a delightful twist that highlights the fusion of flavors from mashed potatoes, ground beef, and creamed corn. It is one of my favorite comfort food memories growing up and my mom made it often because we all loved it so much. It’s also economical because all you need is technically 3 main ingredients that are generally inexpensive: ground beef, potatoes, and a couple of cans of corn. You’re talking about a $10 meal that easily feeds a family of six.
While the name translates from French to “Chinese Pie”, this dish has nothing to do with Chinese cuisine and there’s no clear reason why it’s called that. One theory is that it’s named as a tribute to the Chinese workers who helped build the Canadian Pacific Railway, as they may have prepared a similar dish with corn, potatoes, and meat as the ingredients were readily available.
The dish consists of three layers: a bottom layer of ground beef, a middle layer of creamed corn, and a top layer of mashed potatoes. Some variations may include cheese, onions, or other vegetables. It’s a hearty and comforting dish that’s perfect for colder weather or when you need a filling meal. It’s easy to make and can be customized to your liking, making it a go-to recipe for many Canadians.
Ingredients for Pâté Chinois
Making Pâté Chinois is a straightforward experience, especially when you have all the necessary ingredients. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this mouth-watering dish.
For the Meat Layer
For the meat layer, you’ll need:
- 1 pound of ground beef or pork
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
You can also add herbs and spices like rosemary, thyme, or paprika to enhance the flavor.
For the Corn Layer
The corn layer is what makes Pâté Chinois unique, and for this layer, you’ll need:
- 12-ounce can of whole-kernel corn
- 14-ounce can of creamed corn
You can also add chopped bell peppers, jalapenos, or green chilies to give the corn layer a little kick.
For the Potato Layer
The potato layer is the top layer of Pâté Chinois, and it’s what gives the dish its creamy texture. Here’s what you’ll need:
You can also add grated cheese or chopped fresh herbs like parsley or chives to the potato layer for added flavor.
With these ingredients, you’ll be able to make a delicious Pâté Chinois that will have your taste buds dancing.
Preparation of Pâté Chinois
Pâté Chinois, or French-Canadian Shepherd’s Pie, is a classic comfort food that is easy to make and perfect for a cozy night in. This dish is made up of three layers: a meat layer, a corn layer, and a potato layer. Here’s how to prepare each layer:
Preparation of Meat Layer
To make the meat layer, start by cooking 1 pound of ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Once the beef is browned, add 1 diced onion and continue cooking until the onion is translucent. Season the mixture with salt, and pepper, and you’re good to go! Some common options include rosemary, thyme, and garlic powder.
Preparation of Corn Layer
The corn layer is what sets Pâté Chinois apart from traditional Shepherd’s Pie. To make the corn layer, you’ll need 2 cans of corn, one creamed and the other, whole kernel. Generally, you would simply mix both cans of corn and that would be your corn layer. However, I like to mix the creamed corn with the meat mixture and then use the whole-kernel corn for the corn layer. That’s how my mom made it but that’s entirely up to you.
Preparation of Potato Layer
The potato layer is the final layer of Pâté Chinois. To make it, peel and chop 2 pounds of potatoes and boil them until they’re soft. Drain the water and add 1/4 cup of butter and 1/3 cup of milk. Mash the potatoes until they’re smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Assembling the Pâté Chinois
Now that you have prepared all the ingredients for your Pâté Chinois, it’s time to assemble the layers and bake it to perfection. Follow these steps to create a delicious and comforting French-Canadian Shepherd’s Pie:
- In a 2L baking dish, spread the cooked ground beef, onions, and creamed corn evenly at the bottom of the dish.
- Pour the whole-kernel corn over the beef layer, spreading it evenly.
- Finally, add the mashed potatoes on top of the corn layer, spreading it evenly over the dish.
- If you want, you can sprinkle some grated cheese on top of the mashed potatoes for an extra touch of flavor.
And that’s it! Your Pâté Chinois is ready to be enjoyed. Serve it hot, garnished with fresh herbs like parsley or chives, and accompanied by a side salad or some crusty bread.
Remember that this recipe is versatile, so feel free to experiment with different ingredients and variations. For example, you can use ground pork or turkey instead of beef, or add some spices like paprika or cumin to the meat mixture for extra flavor. You can also use different types of corn, like canned or frozen, depending on what you have on hand.
Once you have assembled your Pâté chinois, it’s time to bake it to perfection. Here’s how:
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Place your Pâté chinois on the middle rack of the oven.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
It’s important to note that baking times may vary depending on your oven, so keep an eye on your Pâté chinois as it bakes. If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil to prevent burning.
For an extra crispy top, you can brush the mashed potatoes with melted butter before baking. You can also sprinkle grated cheese on top of the mashed potatoes for added flavor.
Once your Pâté chinois is finished baking, let it cool for a few minutes before serving. This will allow the filling to set and make it easier to cut into portions.
Now that you know how to bake your Pâté chinois, it’s time to enjoy this delicious French-Canadian classic!
Pâté Chinois is a hearty and flavorful dish that can be served on its own or paired with other dishes. Here are some serving suggestions to help you enjoy this classic Quebecois comfort food:
1. Side Salad
A fresh and crispy side salad is a great way to balance the richness of Pâté Chinois. Try a simple green salad with a tangy vinaigrette or a colorful mix of vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes.
2. Garlic Bread
Warm and buttery garlic bread is the perfect accompaniment to Pâté Chinois. Simply slice a baguette, brush with garlic butter, and toast until golden brown. Serve alongside the casserole for a delicious and satisfying meal.
3. Grilled Vegetables
Grilled vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers add a smoky and savory flavor to Pâté Chinois. Simply toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and grill until tender. Serve alongside the casserole for a complete and satisfying meal.
4. Wine Pairing
A robust red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah pairs well with the rich and savory flavors of Pâté Chinois. Alternatively, a crisp and refreshing white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio can help cut through the richness of the dish.
Pâté Chinois makes great leftovers and can be reheated in the oven or microwave for a quick and easy meal. Serve with a fresh side salad or some warm garlic bread for a delicious and satisfying lunch or dinner.
Storage and Reheating Tips
Once you have made your Pâté Chinois, you may have leftovers that you want to store for later. Here are some tips on how to store and reheat your Pâté Chinois:
- Store your Pâté Chinois in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- If you need to store it for longer, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. However, the texture may change slightly upon reheating.
- To freeze, let the Pâté Chinois cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Label it with the date and freeze it.
- To reheat your Pâté Chinois, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Take the Pâté Chinois out of the refrigerator or freezer and let it come to room temperature.
- If it is frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
- If you have a large amount, you can reheat it in the oven in a baking dish covered with foil for 30-40 minutes.
- For small portions, you can reheat it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.
- Make sure to stir the Pâté Chinois occasionally while reheating to ensure even heating.
By following these simple tips, you can enjoy your Pâté Chinois even after it has been stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Pâté Chinois Recipe – A Traditional Canadian Comfort FoodCourse: Main Dishes
4 cups of mashed potatoes
1 pound ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 14-ounce can of cream corn
1 12-ounce can of whole-kernel corn (drained)
- Mashed Potatoes
- If you haven’t already prepared your mashed potatoes, start by boiling peeled and diced potatoes until they’re soft. Drain the water, mash the potatoes, adding a 1/3 cup of milk or cream, 1/4 cup of butter, and salt and pepper to taste, until smooth.
- Meat Layer
- In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onions and sauté until they become translucent.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet, breaking it apart as it cooks (I add a 1/4 cup of water to help break the meat apart).
- Once the beef is browned and cooked through, add the creamed corn, season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- In a 2L baking dish, spread the ground beef, onions, and creamed corn as the first layer.
- Spread the drained regular corn as the next layer over the ground beef mixture.
- Finish by spreading the mashed potatoes on top, smoothing it out to ensure an even layer.
- Optional: For a crispy top, dot with additional butter or brush with a beaten egg.
- Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the mashed potatoes turn golden brown.
- Once done, remove it from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the origin of pâté chinois?
Pâté chinois is a French Canadian dish that has been around for over a century. The origin of the dish is a bit of a mystery, but it is believed to have been created by Chinese railway workers in Canada who were served a dish of ground beef, corn, and mashed potatoes that reminded them of home. Over time, the dish evolved and became a staple in French Canadian cuisine.
What are the ingredients in a traditional pâté chinois recipe?
A traditional pâté chinois recipe consists of three layers: a bottom layer of ground beef, a middle layer of canned corn, and a top layer of mashed potatoes. The ground beef is usually seasoned with salt, pepper, and onion. Some recipes call for the addition of Worcestershire sauce or beef broth to add more flavor.
How is pâté chinois different from shepherd’s pie?
Pâté chinois is similar to shepherd’s pie in that it is a layered dish made with ground meat and mashed potatoes. However, there are a few key differences. Pâté chinois uses corn instead of peas and carrots, and it is typically made with ground beef instead of lamb. Additionally, pâté chinois is often seasoned with onion and Worcestershire sauce, while shepherd’s pie may use thyme or rosemary.
What are some variations of pâté chinois, such as sweet potato?
There are many variations of pâté chinois, including the use of sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes. Some recipes use a combination of ground beef and pork, while others use ground chicken or turkey. Some recipes also add cheese to the mashed potato layer for extra flavor.
What is a good side dish to serve with pâté chinois?
Pâté chinois is a hearty dish that can stand on its own, but it also pairs well with a variety of side dishes. A simple green salad or steamed vegetables make a great accompaniment to the dish. You could also serve it with a side of crusty bread or garlic bread to soak up the flavorful juices.
Why do the French refer to this dish as pâté chinois?
Despite its name, pâté chinois has nothing to do with pâté, which is a type of French meat spread. The dish is called pâté chinois because it was believed to have been created by Chinese railway workers in Canada. The French word “chinois” means Chinese, so the dish came to be known as “Chinese pie.
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