Pâté chinois is a typical French Canadian meal… Apparently created by the British railroad workers, in the 19th century, as an imitation of the famous “cottage pie” (beef, lamb and mashed potatoes). The dish was an imminent “hit”, at least, for the “on site” railroad workers which included many French Canadians and many Chinese workers. The French brought it back home and called it: Chinese pate… which as nothing to do with China…
The “pate chinois” differs from the cottage pie, mainly because of the corn in the middle layer. Which was a cheap and easy ingredient to add, since Canada is full of it. In majority, this is the meal every household does once a month in the East part of Canada. It’s equivalent to tomato pasta for an Italian, or a baguette and cheese to a French, a ceviche to a peruvian… It’s “the” meal every French Canadians family does every other week.
Since living in Spain, I’ve had to add a spanish touch to everything I cook, so instead of doing the typical butter in the mashed potatoes, I’ve used olive oil. Also I’ve added garlic, onions, tomato paste and carrots to the meat and last but not least; fresh thyme. Surprisingly, this meal does already have a layer of paprika (pimenton) on top of it, I used for this one a special smoked paprika called “Pimenton de la Vera”, which is kind of the caviar of spices in Spain. A slight smoky flavour to this pie goes a long way.
So let’s make some eastern canadian meal with a touch of sunny Spain!
Pâté Chinois with a Spanish Twist
Makes 4 portions
- 6 medium potatoes
- 200ml warm milk
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 400g grinded beef meat
- 1 onion in cubes
- 1 carrot in cubes
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 50g (tomate frito) tomato paste
- 300g corn grains
- 1 tbsp smocked paprika
- fresh thyme
- salt, pepper
- Cook the potatoes through, peel them (here is a trick)
- Mash them with the warm milk, olive oil, salt and pepper
- Add the onion and carrot with some olive oil to a pan, cook at medium high heat, until soft
- Add the garlic and thyme bring to high heat
- Add the meat and cook until light brown
- Add the paprika and tomato paste
- Add the meat mix to the bottom of a oven proof container (deep enough and not too big… about 20cm diametre)
- Add the corn layer
- Add the mashed potatoe layer
- Sprinkle with more paprika, salt, pepper and spray a little olive oil on top
- Cook for 30-35 minutes at 200°C (375F), until brown top, finish it with a broil
- Let cool a bit and serve
Enjoy on a cold day, with some nicely spiced Bloody Mary!