Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pâté Chinois: A Québécois 'Cottage Pie' Classic

Cottage Pie or Shepherd's Pie refers to a savoury English dish traditionally made with minced meat and leftover mashed potato to form the top crust for this British comfort food classic. The name cottage pie was first used at the end of the 18th-century, during the time that the poorer people of Great Britain, people who lived in cottages, started using potatoes as an everyday food. Originally, a pie made with any kind of meat and mashed potato was called a 'cottage pie'. However, cottage pies are typically made with beef, and shepherd's pie with lamb. A third variation is Pâté Chinois, a French Canadian dish similar to English cottage pie or shepherd's pie, made with minced beef, sautéed onions and canned corn with a layer mashed potatoes on top. Pâté Chinois is not a Chinese recipe at all, but simply an adaption of cottage pie that was introduced to Canadian railway workers by Chinese cooks during the building of the North American railroads in the late 19th-century, as an easily prepared, inexpensive version of the popular English favourite. A heartwarming dish for any chilly night, it's a comfort food classic in any language.

Diced onion and carrot sautéed with minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

The minced beef is added and cooked until it's no longer pink

A little flour is added to the beef and cooked briefly, then tomato paste is stirred in

Chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper are added, 
and the mixture is simmered for 10-12 minutes

The corn kernels and peas are added

The beef and vegetables are spooned into an oven-proof casserole then topped with mashed potatoes, a few dollops of butter and fresh ground white pepper 

Baked for 25 minutes at 400°F, the cottage pie should be allowed to rest for 15 mites before serving

Cottage Pie
Serves 8

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup whipping cream
8 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar, grated

Meat filling:
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 tsp freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a large pot of boiling water and cook until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan over low heat. Mash the potatoes and then add butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the cream and cheese, and stir until well combined. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and set aside until needed.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the beef filling. Place 2 tablespoons of oil into a large pot or sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and sauté just until they begin to colour, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the beef and cook until browned and cooked through, about another 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Finally, add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into a large casserole of baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and score the top with a fork. Put in the oven, with a foil lined baking sheet placed on the rack below to catch any drips, and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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