“Pâté chinois” is a classic from my childhood and it’s sort of like a Sheppard’s pie but with only corn as it’s main vegetable. It’s a staple on every french Canadian kitchen table. What I’m offering is not as much as a recipe but more of a flavor profile in order to get the most out of those 3 basic ingredients : potatoes, corn and beef. This amazing comfort dish is usually smothered in ketchup but this version does not need anything else but a cute little side salad.
And just in case you were wondering, please do these three steps together, multitasking is the key to getting the perfect “Pâté chinois”! While the potatoes are boiling, brown the onions and ground beef.
The first step is to get the corn out of the way. At this time of the year, I use canned corn but please use the ones that are canned in water without any salt or sugar. Use about 3 to 4 small cans per dish. Take half of the corn and with the help of a little milk, purée them with the help of a hand blender or a regular blender, adding a pinch of salt and pepper, stir in with the rest of the corn and reserve.
Then it is on to the potatoes! Peel and cut into small pieces (makes for a better mash) the Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes (About 4 to 5 medium sized per dish) and place into a pot of salted water. Boil until tender or another trick is to pierce them with a knife, if they stick to the knife they are not ready and if they slide off easily then they are done. Drain the potatoes, keeping about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and return them to the pot to steam adding a few tablespoons of butter to slowly melt away. Mash away until no big pieces are left. Now here is the kicker: add in a cup of grated Parmesan and 1/2 cup of minced chives and stir in. These would be great on their own mind you but try to reserve them to top your masterpiece. 😉
The last layer to complete is the ground beef and onions. My added touch here, is caramelizing the onions before adding the ground beef to the mix. Start by softening the onions in a little olive oil and salt and once they are translucent, add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Let them go on a low heat for a good 15 minutes, stirring once in a while. Turn the heat back on high and add the ground beef. Do not touch it until a beautiful golden crust forms then you may go ahead and crumble it up. Once the beef is cooked through and no longer pink, add 1 tablespoons of soy sauce and stir an extra minute or so. Rectify seasoning with salt an pepper.
The last step is to assemble your “pâté” and cook it off. The trick is to get an even layer of each starting with the beef, then the corn and topping the whole thing with the mashed potatoes. As an added bonus, I sprinkle some grated Parmesan on top with a little Panko breadcrumbs in order to get a crunchy top.
Pop it into a 375°F oven for 30 to 45 minutes until your top is golden and the juices are bubbling. Let it cool for 15 minutes before cutting.