Canada is a huge melting pot for different cultures and nationalities. The country is approximately 5,000 km from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean's with each of the provinces and territories diverse in their history. It is hard to define what is truly Canadian and what we have adopted from other cultures and nationalities. One thing I do know is that we have such an abundance of fresh produce and other natural resources that we make good use of what we have. Each province is unique in what would be considered their traditional dishes depending on the nationality of who settled there as well as what is available locally!! Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of eating locally produced food in all our provinces for many reasons. It tastes better, it supports the community, and, because it doesn’t need to be shipped long distances, it’s better for the environment.
I have spent periods of time in "La Belle Provence" Quebec which has it's own unique history and culture to share based on it's deep French roots. Stretching between the Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Quebec is Canada’s largest and the second most populated province. Fiercely independent, Quebec is the only Canadian province with a majority of French-Canadian residents. What I love about Quebec and it's city and rural areas is its French flavour which still remains through it's food, history and culture. French food traditions abound in their rustic country breads, tourtiere (meat pie) , cretons, artisan cheeses (like Oka, made by Trappist monks), and foie gras. Soupe aux pois (yellow pea soup) with salt pork is a national French-Canadian dish. Feves au Lard (Quebec Baked Beans) are often cooked with maple syrup.
"Poutine" is a yummy concoction and a favourite snack food of mine consisting of french fries, hot brown gravy and fresh cheese curds that's as unhealthy as it is delicious. You can find it in all-night take-out joints and gourmet restaurants alike since it is highly addictive and comes with a variety of toppings from tomato sauce (poutine Italien) to fois gras. I am thinking it should replace Soupe aux Pois as our national dish!!!!! "Tarte au Sucre" or Sugar pie is as sweet as it sounds, made with a variety of sugars and maple syrup, boiled to a fudge and made into a pie. The province of Quebec produces more maple syrup than any other Canadian province!!!! And don't forget Montreal-Smoked Meat which is similar to pastrami for your sandwiches and Montreal bagels baked in wood-fired ovens and a personal favourite.
When the weather starts to get cooler I have a need to start nesting and part of this process is to rediscover my Canadian roots through food. There is something comforting and ethereal about getting back to your roots. This reminded me of Pâté Chinois (Chinese Pie) which is a French Canadian dish similar to English cottage pie, shepherd's pie or French hachis Parmentier. It is a traditional French Canadian main course, and is often served during the cold months of the year here in the Great White North. It is typically served with pickled beets or eggs. It is made from ground beef which is sometimes mixed with sautéed diced onions on the bottom layer, canned corn (either whole-kernel, creamed, or a mixture) for the middle layer, and mashed potatoes on top. Variations may include sprinkling paprika on top of the potatoes, reversing the layering of ingredients, adding diced bell peppers to the ground beef, and serving the dish with pickled eggs or beets. I first tried this dish in Alberta when one of my room mates was French Canadian although he referred to the dish as "Pate Chez Mois" or "Pate of my house".
Pâté Chinois is not a Chinese recipe as the name implies. One possible explanation for the 'Chinese' reference is that it was introduced to French Canadian railway workers by Chinese cooks during the building of the North American railroads in the late 19th century. These cooks made it under instruction from the railway bosses (of English extraction) as an easily-prepared, inexpensive version of the popular cottage pie, with the sauce in the tinned creamed-corn serving as a substitute for the gravy. The French Canadian railway workers became fond of it and brought the recipe back with them to their home communities. From there it was brought to the textile mill communities of Maine New Hampshire, Massachusetts,and Rhode Island where many French Canadians immigrated to work in the mills during the early 20th century.
Become an honourary Canadian and give this recipe a try or rediscover your own roots!!!
**Pate Chinois (Chinese Pie)**
8 medium fresh whole white potatoes
1 garlic clove whole
1 lb ground beef
1 - 2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow or Spanish onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 celery stalk, finely diced1 large carrot, finely diced
1 (15oz) can creamed sweet corn with sauce
grainy mustard to taste
Worcestershire sauce (a few shakes)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Sliced Pickled Beets, chilled
Boil potatoes in lightly salted water until soft, drain. Mash potatoes, adding 2 tablespoons butter, Parmesan cheese and just enough buttermilk to achieve a spreadable consistency. Set aside.
Over medium heat in saute pan cook onion, carrot, bell pepper, and celery in butter approximately 5 minutes. Add beef to pan and fry until no longer pink. Add salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and cook on low heat for about 30min. Drain fat and put ground beef mixture in bottom of casserole dish.
Top meat mixture with creamed corn and spread evenly over beef.
Spread the mashed potatoes across the top to form a 'crust'. Lightly sprinkle with paprika, and salt/pepper to taste, and make tracks with a fork, if desired.
Bake uncovered at 400F until the potatoes are golden brown, approximately 25 minutes.
Serve hot with a generous portion of sliced chilled pickled beets.
Notes: shredded sharp cheddar cheese can be added on top of potatoes before cooking.
You may also want to try:
Leftover Turkey Shepherd's Pie
Upside Down Shepherds Pie
You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.