Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pâté Chinois & Shepherd's Pie

It seems a lot of my friends are having babies these days. On my day off, I decided to offer my friend S to bring over dinner for her and her husband. I gave her a choice between chicken pot pie and pâté chinois. S decided on pâté chinois since she had pot pie recently. Another couple had a baby a day before S and I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and offered to bring over shepherd's pie as well!

So what's the difference between pâté chinois and shepherd's pie? Well, I only realized there was a difference while watching Top Chef (definitely one of my favourite shows right now!). In Québec, we use the terms interchangeably for pâté chinois. Pâté chinois is a Québécois dish typically containing ground beef, corn (or cream of corn) and mashed potatoes, and served with ketchup. Shepherd's pie is an English version, made with lamb, and definitely with no corn. There are other variations, including hachis parmentier, a French version. While I knew that S's mother is Québécoise and would expect corn, I wasn't sure about what my other friends would expect in shepherd's pie so I decided to make both versions.

Shepherd's pie.

Pâté Chinois & Shepherd's Pie - Serves 3-4

While I made two pies, I will only include quantities for one. You can pick whether you want to go the Québécois or English way.

Meat Mixture
I actually added some lean ground chicken to make this dish a bit healthier. Any combination of ground meat can be used. I used the same meat mixture for both pies and divided it in two.

* oil
* 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 onion, chopped finely
* 500 g (1 lb) ground meat
* salt, to taste
* freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* 3-4 fresh sprigs of thyme
* 1 sprig of rosemary
* ½ cup of red wine
* 1-2 tbsp tomato paste.

Heat up oil in a large skillet.
Add the onion and garlic, and cook until softened.
Add the meat, and break apart while cooking it.
Season with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.
Add the red wine and mix in the tomato paste.
Cook until the wine has evaporated.

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Adding the vegetables

For the pâté chinois:
I used corn that I had frozen during the summer. I stir fried it with some green onion and seasoned it with salt and pepper. You could just use canned corn or cream of corn if you prefer.
Cover the bottom of a 9"x9" square baking dish with the meat mixture.

Top with the corn.

For the shepherd's pie:
I added one carrot, cut into small cubes and some frozen peas into the meat mixture.
Cook the meat and vegetable mixture until the carrots are tender.
Cover the bottom of a 9"x9" square baking dish with the meat mixture.

The base for pâté chinois and shepherd's pie respectively.

Mashed potato
Again, I don't have exact quantities, I just eyed it and tried to aim for a consistency I liked.

* 4-5 good sized potatoes (it should cover the meat and vegetables - although my friend S said she liked my meat to potato ratio, so don't make too much potato!)
* 1-2 tbsp butter
* 1-2 tbsp olive oil
* 1/3 cup Parmesan, optional
* salt and pepper
* milk
* 1 tbsp melted butter

Cook potatoes and peel them.
While hot, mash the potatoes.
Add butter and Parmesan (so they melt!).
Add milk if the mixture is too thick.
Add the olive oil, salt and pepper.
Adjust the seasoning and consistency to your tastes.
Cover the meat and vegetables with the potato mixture and spread evenly.
Go through the surface of the mashed potato with a fork, creating grooves.
Brush the grooves with melted butter, so it browns nicely.
Bake in the oven for 30 min at 350F. (At this point, all the ingredients are cooked, so you're just heating the pie up.)
Broil on high for 5 minutes if you want it nicely browned. (Use the time because it can burn quickly or use the low setting instead!)

Mashing the potatoes.

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Add potatoes to both pies.

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I really like making the grooves with a fork!

Pâté Chinois.


Gastronomer said...

If I have a baby, will you bring over some Shepherd's Pie?

Michelle said...

oh my god, I'm in the mood for chicken pot pie and litterally drooling reading this =( Gotta get the pie tomorrow!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I love Shepherd's pie, but I've never heard of pate chinois. My rudimentary French read it as Chinese pate, which it is. The history is fascinating. I think I'll make this for Thanksgiving dinner!