Hurricane food

I was inspired by the glimpse of cold weather we just experienced earlier than supposed (thanks to Irene) to make a classic comfort food dish from Quebec. The “shepherd pie” that we actually call “Pâté Chinois” in French, translating literally to “Chinese pie.” There is nothing Chinese about it and we are not sure where that name came from; ground beef, corn and mashed potatoes is the simple 3 layers that compose that recipe.  A classic in every Quebec household. It is our easy dish, the one we love to eat when we are kids and we always remember as the best recipe our mom’s made along with spaghetti sauce.  It is part of our culture.

It is not something I make during summer days because it’s kind of heavy but when we have the last summer corn; the best one, its time to make multiple versions of Paté Chinois.  The one I would like to share with you was made out of fridge left overs and I think was the best one I ever made.

You need to make your layers in a gratin dish that can handle oven. Start with some meat. Here I used ground beef mixed with merguez sausage. First, cut some white or red onion  and some yellow sweet pepper and sauté in a drizzle of olive oil, remove the skin from the sausage by cutting it with a sharp knife and peel it of, mix the meat with the ground beef and add to the pan, season with salt and pepper and let cook until meet is brown.

Fill your gratin dish with the layer of meat.  Second layer will be the corn. Of course, fresh is always better but when it’s non available, use some in can, mix creamed and whole kernels equally. Just put the corn in the same pan that you used to brown meat and heat quickly, adding salt and pepper, assuming it was pre cooked, of course.

Last layer but not least, the mashed potatoes. That alone, is the most comforting food item of all. It is all I need to eat when I feel depressed. Now there are tonnes of ways of making the perfect mashed potatoes. I love the ricer. It makes them fluffier and you don’t need to add any liquids that will fade the taste of the potatoes. Just add butter (tonnes) and some fresh chives. In my Hurricane version here, I added Manchego cheese along with butter, salt and pepper and it was perfect.

At last, put some melted butter on top of your potatoes and broil them for a few minutes in the oven. That finishing touch will make a nice crunch while adding color.

Enjoy a taste of comfort and cut yourself loose in creativity. You can put almost everything in a Paté Chinois as long as the top remains potatoes (why not sweet ones), you have some veggies in the middle and proteins under (tofu, duck, blood pudding). I am not giving measurements because it depends on the size of the dish you want to make. Pâté Chinois is an intuitive dish. Give it a go !!!

Nadine Denault

About 

From Montréal, Québec

I define myself as a true foodie, although that word has lost popularity lately being associated with "arrogance" and even "hate" from some chefs. I have been nearly obsessed with food all my life, always seeking for new tastes and better ones. My true definition of "best times" always involves a good meal and drinks shared with good company.

Some people remember songs or what people were wearing at certain times of their life. I remember what everybody was eating and drinking and that has been driving some people nuts over the years. I always book my trips according to where I want to go eat and that, also, some might find annoying but I can't help it. I live through what I eat. Over the years, I have been spending serious bucks on food, I spend hours reading magazines and recipe books, and I will go the extra mile to find that special ingredient when I entertain at home and cook.

Now I find myself having fun writing about my experiences with food; my quest for the perfect dish. Is this not what it is all about? Finding the taste that will knock you off your feet with the perfect wine pairing? This being said, I am an amateur, never worked in the food industry but I think my experiences are worth sharing. So, here I am.

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3 Responses

  1. Bridget Bain says:

    I was in Montreal last week with my family and ate at vallier. I MUST have the recpie for their pate chinois. Do you know it, or know how to get ahold of it?

  2. c.gagne says:

    actually , google has it that the name was given to this dish that was served to the chinese that came to work on the railway, and it makes sense its pretty balanced and very cheap to make for many.  source locates it from quebec or just over US border

  3. Cgagne says:

    for bridget:  very simple to make. this is how i do it.  fry a chopped onion, add 1 pound mince meat, lean ground beef, till a little more than pink on the inside.  at the same time boil 3 or four yellow potatoes, when ready mash with a little butter an  milk to smooth texture.  get an oven dish, first lay mince meat and onion, lay one can of cream style corn, and lay final layer of mashed potatoes. smooth out potatoes with a fork so that you achieve straight lines across the dish.   Just before putting to oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, add a few thin slices of butter on top of potatoes and thow on some chives or parsley for color(what to look for is a golden finish which can be accelerated bu putting to broil for a minute) From start to finish it takes a little over an hour. enjoy

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