Pâté chinois

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Pâté chinois
Pâté chinois.jpg
A pâté chinois; half nibblets, half cream corn
Type Savoury pie
Place of origin Canada
Main ingredients ground beef, onions, maize or creamed corn, mashed potatoes vinegar
Cookbook: Pâté chinois  Media: Pâté chinois

Pâté chinois (pronounced: [pɑte ʃinwa]) is a French Canadian dish similar to English cottage pie or shepherd's pie, or French hachis Parmentier.


A plate of Pâté Chinois, with pickled beets and a Maple leaf cookie.

It is made from layered ground beef (sometimes mixed with sautéed diced onions) on the bottom layer, canned corn (either whole-kernel, creamed, or a mix) 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. Pâté chinois (French for "Chinese pie") is often drizzled with ketchup once served.

People from Quebec sometimes layer the dish with potatoes at the bottom, then meat, and then topped with cream corn to make the potatoes juicier.[citation needed]

Name origins[edit]

Pâté Chinois is not a Chinese recipe. It may simply be an adaptation of "Shepherd's Pie", but one possible explanation for the Chinese reference is that it was introduced to Canadian railway workers by Chinese cooks during the building of the North American railroads in the late 19th century.[citation needed] These cooks made it under instruction from the railway bosses (of British origin) 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 (Lewiston and Biddeford), New Hampshire (Manchester), Massachusetts (e.g., Lowell and Lawrence) and Rhode Island (Woonsocket) where many French Canadians immigrated to work in the mills during the early 20th century. It may also be connected to the town of China, Maine. Some Lewiston, Maine families made a variation called Pâté au Chinois layering the dish with mashed potatoes at the bottom, ground beef next, followed by peas, whole beets, and creamed corn on the top.

Cultural references[edit]

In the Québécois humorous television program La Petite Vie, pâté chinois is used to show one of the characters' abysmal lack of common sense as she regularly fails to properly prepare it, for example, by laying the three ingredients side by side instead of layering them, or forgetting to mash the potatoes.

See also[edit]