Disclaimer: This is not your typical British Shepherd’s pie, but it’s the closest translation I can find, so to all British readers out there please don’t be offended by the way we make it.
(Made on December 18, 2012) Nico doesn’t eat this as he’s currently anti-mashed potatoes but eats cubed ones, he also only likes whole corn kernels not the creamy kind but he does like ground beef. So for now I keep a few portions at the basic stage for him, then make the pâté chinois (literally means chinese pâté, but it’s got nothing to do with it, no clue where the name came from). This I normally make in big quantities for several meals as it’s easy to make and lasts a long time in the fridge. I probably could freeze it but never tried, let me know if you do
Even though Nico doesn’t eat it, he helps me prepare it like most cooking that is done at home. First I peel and cube potatoes (2 more potatoes were added to fill my pot), Nico always helps with cubing and sometimes also holds my hand as I peel them.
I get those cooking and move on to the onions, I chop them differently every time depending how I feel (fine or coarse) and also how strong the onions are, lol. I get the onions cooking/browning in the wok with a little butter until golden, then I add my loose ground beef (about 2 3/4 pounds of it) and some Montreal Steak spice and stir it all together, making sure I stir often to get the ground beef to stay loose and not in one big lump.
While that finishes off, the potatoes are done cooking. I drain them and mash them. I put butter, dry garlic/onion (salt version would do) and some parsley, mashed them a little, then added milk (about a 3/4 cup). I use a hand masher and I get them creamy but still with some small lumps, not perfectly smooth.
Now the ground beef is all cooked and brown, most of the time I strain it because there is too much fat at the bottom of the wok and I don’t wanna eat this. I spread the ground beef/onions mixture in the oven safe dish to cover the bottom well, about 2 cm thick, but it could be a little more. The cream corn layer is next, now this one has evolved for me since living in Germany where I had to make my own as it’s not sold there. Originally it’s just cream corn directly from the can to cover your meat. In Germany, I had to use whole corn kernels and mix milk into it with a stick hand blender to get the creamy consistency I needed. It was a weird feeling to make your own from scratch like in the old days but see cars drive by. Back to our pâté chinois, I now mix a can of whole kernel (no juice) to a can of cream corn to make it more consistent and less liquid. For this batch I ran out of cream corn so I just made some the old fashioned way I did in Germany and Nico came to help, he liked doing it so I may do it more often, so he can help more and maybe eat some eventually. So after layering your cream corn, you do the same with your mash about the same thickness you did your meat. I flatten my big spoons of mash using a fork and creating a stripe pattern the length side of the dish, why? No idea, I was taught that way. I sprinkle paprika and little nobs of butter on it before sticking it in the oven at about 375F for 10-15 min until your mash is golden brown and lightly crispy on top.
Fun story update: Just asked my mother were the name came from and she said she thinks it’s because of the following: Back in the days, when my grand father was in school, they used to make these because it was very economical to make for a big family (ground beef was inexpensive, everyone grew potatoes and it used to be loose corn kernel, creamed didn’t existed). Also back then you used to be able to “buy a Chinese” as in give money to help them out (kinda like today’s child sponsoring in third world countries) and every time they would make that dish (pâté) they would say they had money for the little Chinese kid, so I guess it kinda blended together to Chinese pâté…
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