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 !!!