Pâté Chinois- Shepherd's Pie from Québec
So this is the first Québecois dish I learned to cook for my husband when we got married. There aren't that many super traditional meals, but this is one that is rarely in restaurants, however always in the family. Every family has their style of making it, their stories attached and their favorite preparations. For us, I had to memorize the order (which made my Quebecois husband chuckle because I was like the girl from a TV show, "La Petite Vie" that always forgot the order of the Pâté Chinois). So it is (From the bottom up):
Steak Haché (Ground beef)
Blé D'Inde (Corn)
Ours usually is topped with some cheese and sometimes I jazz up the mashed potatoes w some bacon or chives, or whatever looks good at the time. The meat is fried à l'Iranienne :) So the spices I use in my meat are moderately Persian. It isn't identifiable, or I would have been outed by now :D
Also, traditionally cream of corn is used, but I never knew that and so now that is just "my" recipe.
As far as practicality this is a great make-ahead-meal. You can freeze it, leave it ready to bake in the fridge a few days earlier. Even pre-fry your ground beef and leave it in a zip top bag ready to make your Pâté-Chinois later. I do that often. Especially when my cooked meat has been in the freezer for a bit and I need to use it quick.
The origins of Shepherd's Pie/Pâté Chinois, are not known 100%. So my sources are stories I have heard here, and a bit confirmation of both from various sites online. Some say that it was made by the Chinese on the East Coast. My favorite explanation is the one also on Wikipedia, is that it originated in Maine from the French settlers of Quebec that were in a city called South China. Whatever the origin, the result is a family tradition here in Quebec.
Ground beef - about 2.5 lbs
Onion - 1 large
Turmeric - 1 Tablespoon
Cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
Salt and Pepper
Frozen Corn - about 750 grams
Potatoes- about 8 sm/medium
Butter - 3 table spoons
Cream/Milk - about 1.5 cups (enough to make your potatoes nice, light, and creamy
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cheese to top (optional)
Put your potatoes in water to boil while getting ready everything else. You can peel them and decrease the water so it cooks slower. and then you can just mash once finished.
Fry your beef with the turmeric, cinnamon salt and pepper
Once your potatoes are nice and cooked through, peel and mash, or if they are already peeled, just mash! I had my special helper do it. :)
In a 11x8 Pyrex layer your cooked beef with the frozen Corn. If you plan on eating it right away, be sure to have run your cold/frozen corn under hot water to bring temperature up. Or if you are not in a rush, just put on top of the beef frozen.
Layer with the mash potatoes and the cheese of your choice. I used cheddar, mozzarella, Gouda, whatever is on sale/I have.
Let it bake, and get golden brown. If your pieces are all warm already, you can just set under the broiler to brown the top.
If you are baking it all (because you had pre-made it and had it in the freezer so everything is cold) then it needs to go in a 350F oven for at least 30 min up to 60 min.
Serve with love, (and some Ketchup per les Quebecois)