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pate chinois

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…sheperdspiepin

pate chinoisThe “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

Ingredientspate chinois
  • 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
Directions
  1. Cook the potatoes through, peel them (here is a trick)
  2. Mash them with the warm milk, olive oil, salt and pepper
  3. Add the onion and carrot with some olive oil to a pan, cook at medium high heat, until soft
  4. Add the garlic and thyme bring to high heat
  5. Add the meat and cook until light brown
  6. Add the paprika and tomato paste
  7. Add the meat mix to the bottom of a oven proof container (deep enough and not too big… about 20cm diametre)
  8. Add the corn layer
  9. Add the mashed potatoe layer
  10. Sprinkle with more paprika, salt, pepper and spray a little olive oil on top
  11. Cook for 30-35 minutes at 200°C (375F), until brown top, finish it with a broil
  12. Let cool a bit and serve

Enjoy on a cold day, with some nicely spiced Bloody Mary!

 

Pate chinois

 

 

A drunken onion soup, filled with flavors, thyme, wine and a final touch of brandy to warm us up on a cold winter day. Finishing it up under the grill to melt that tasty gruyere cheese on the crunchy piece of bread slowly getting soak with the soup. 

onion soup

To warm up our hearts before the heat comes, why not eat a tasty, french onion soup. Those are quite popular from where I’m from; Quebec… As one know, that place has an eternal winter and this soup helps them to keep warm. I find it always a bit tricky to eat those heavy soups as an appetizer, with the extra cheese on top… It’ s supposed to be a appetizer but I consider it more of a main meal. The french use quite a lot of butter in it, this version is lighter in butter. Also, in culinary school in Spain they made it slightly different, they add thyme and brandy, loved it. So my version here is a of mix from each places I encountered that delicious soup.

onion soup
That moment before getting in… is as nice as cracking into a creme brulée

This soup dates from the Roman time, it comes from a long way back, the french version is quite famous but there is other versions throughout Europe and even Asia… with miso, etc. In my mind that soup must be extra dark, a nice dark brown and it needs to contain a lot of onions… clearly… but the most important part is the stock. In most “stock” meal, I believe the stock to be the key factor to a successful meal, so make your own stock and make it tasty! Also you can freeze some stock in ice cubes tray and keep those small amount of broth for future recipes. It’s always useful.

The difference between stock and broth… I usually use the word broth, but then again, on those chefs tv’s show they always use the word “stock” and finally Googled it: A broth is mainly made of meat parts, while the stock is mainly bone parts (meaning more tasty collagen). So… as my dad would say: “I’ll go to bed less stupid tonight” (french expression)

So here is my beef stock recipe for this soup, I made it with a flair of vietnamese “pho” style. Part one of the meal; the stock.


 

Beef Stock

beef stockIngredients
  • 1 kg (2 pounds) of beef bones
  • 1 cheap cut like hooves, knuckles
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 30ml brandy *optional
  • 4 anise stars
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • laurel
  • small piece of fresh ginger with the skin (2-3cm)
Directions
  1. Add the meat in cold water, bring to boil, drain and rinse in cold water again. *optional to clean the impurities of the broth first…
  2. In your iron cast pot, add some olive oil, med-high heat, and brown the beef pieces
  3. Add the spices, vegetables
  4. Add the brandy, and scratch the bottom of the pan
  5. Add water until topping the meat by 5cm (2inch)
  6. Bring to simmer, leave on low fire for 4 hours
  7. Pass through a sieve and voilà!

 

Onion soup

Makes 4 portions

Ingredientsonion soup
  • 1-1/2 litre of beef stock
  • 250ml red wine
  • 5 big, sliced, spanish onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp flour or in my case I used 2 tbsp unsugared chocolate to thicken the soup)
  • few thick slices of old bread *optional
  • 50g grated cheese (gruyère) *optional
  • 30ml brandy
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • laurel leaf
  • a good amount of pepper, salt
Directions
  1. In a big pot, add olive oil and the sliced onions and salt, cook at low heat for about 45 minutes (yes that long), until the onion become translucent
  2. Mid-way through the onions cooking time (step 1), add finely chopped garlic
  3. When the onions are ready, add the flour (if you choose that alternative) mix (1 minute)
  4. Add the stock, wine, spices and let simmer another 30 minutes
  5. Heat up the grill from your oven
  6. When the soup is ready, add the butter, brandy and chocolate (if you choose that alternative) to thicken the soup
  7. Transfer the soup into onion soup bowl, add the bread on top plus the gruyere cheese, a touch of black pepper
  8. Grill until the cheese is melted
  9. Serve on a wood piece or resistant cover

 

Serve on a cold day to warm you up. Enjoy!