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Pâté Chinois (Quebec Style Shepherd’s Pie )

In Quebec, the classic Irish Shepherd’s Pie takes on a new name: Pâté Chinois. But, don’t let the name or simple ingredients fool you. It is still an incredibly easy and tasty comfort-food casserole.

Potatoes, ground beef, and corn combine in this Canadian version of Shepherd's Pie. | www.curiouscuisiniere.comGrowing up, I loved when my mom would make Pâté Chinois. It had been a staple in her household growing up, and it became a staple in ours.

I loved hearing her pronounce the French Canadian name too. It reminded me of when we would stay at her parent’s house, and I would listen to my grandparents speaking French to each other in the early morning before we all got out of bed.

What Does Pâté Chinois Mean?

Growing up, the meaning of Pâté Chinois was a bit lost in translation for us. No one in our family really knew why the French Canadians called their version of Shepherd’s Pie Chinese Pie.

It was simply what it was called.

To me, that three-layered casserole was synonymous with Shepherd’s Pie. And, I had never heard of using any other vegetable in Shepherd’s Pie besides corn.

Needless to say, when my college roommates introduced me to strange vegetables like carrots and peas in Shepherd’s Pie, I was one confused cookie.

But, after doing a bit of digging into my grandparent’s French Canadian heritage and into traditional Quebecois food, I finally found the answer to my questions.

Cooks for the Chinese railway workers in the 19th century came up with this dish as a variation on Shephard’s Pie because it was an economical way to feed all the workers.

Apparently, Canadians liked it so much, it stuck around and became the national dish of Quebec.

Our Pâté Chinois Recipe

Traditionally, Pâté Chinois is made using canned creamed corn, however, my Grandmother was not a fan of creamed corn, so she would use fresh corn instead.

That version is what has been passed down in our family, and it’s the one we’re sharing with you today.

But, if you’d like to try it using creamed corn, I’d suggest making your own creamed corn, rather than using the canned version. (It’s actually quite easy.)

Potatoes, ground beef, and corn combine in this Canadian version of Shepherd's Pie. |

Similar beef casseroles from around the world

This layered beef casserole concept pops up in a number of countries around the globe. If you like this recipe for Pâté Chinois, you have to give these similar dishes a try!

And, probably the most unique, but no less tasty Pastel de Choclo (Chilean Beef and Corn Casserole)


Potatoes, ground beef, and corn combine in this Canadian version of Shepherd's Pie. |
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4.78 from 9 votes

Pâté Chinois (Quebec Style Shepherd's Pie)

In Quebec, the classic Irish Shepherd's Pie takes on a new name: Pâté Chinois.
Yield: 1 (8x8) pan. (Double the recipe to fill a 9x13 baking dish. Cook time remains the same.)
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Canadian
Author: Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere


For the Mashed Potatoes (Alternately, use 4 c of leftover, seasoned mashed potatoes, warmed and beaten until smooth.)

  • 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1 Tbsp salted butter
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

For the Dish

  • 1 Tbsp salted butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 c sweet corn,* thawed if frozen


  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Put peeled and quartered potatoes into a medium soup pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Drain and add the milk, 1 Tbsp butter, ¾ tsp salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Beat using an electric hand mixer to achieve very smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes. (If using leftover mashed potatoes, beat them to create a smooth texture, adding a splash of milk if necessary.) Set the potatoes aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp butter. Add the diced onion and sauté over medium-high heat until the onions are golden, 3-5 minutes. Add the ground beef and brown the beef until it is cooked through. Add the paprika, thyme, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.
  • Pour the onion and beef mixture into the bottom of a greased 8x8 baking dish. Evenly distribute the corn over the meat. Finally, dollop the potatoes over the corn, spreading them to create an even top crust.
  • Place the dish in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.


*To make the dish more authentic, use 2 c of creamed corn. You can make your own using THIS RECIPE.


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Potatoes, ground beef, and corn combine in this Canadian version of Shepherd's Pie. |

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Gilles Deschamps

Monday 15th of February 2021

Bonjour, Je vous transmets une recette originale, que vous pouvez utiliser ou publier. Cordialement Gilles Deschamps

PJ : Recette en Français Recette en Anglais

Recette du Crocus de Nîmes

Ingrédients 1/2 Pélardon, coupé horizontalement 2 tranches de pain complet ou de pain de mie 1 ou 2 cuillerées à café (selon les goûts) de tapenade verte (de préférence de Picholine) quelques amandes effilées (peu, seulement pour la sensation de craquant) des lamelles d’oignon doux des Cévennes (quantité : selon le goût du consommateur) 1 cuillerée à café de miel des Cévennes ou des Garrigues une grosse pincée d’herbes de Provence, dont du thym une petite pointe de safran 2 cuillerées à café d’huile d’olive de qualité supérieure

On peut y ajouter un peu d’oignon (doux ou fort) préalablement un peu roussi à la poêle.

Préparation > Sur la tranche inférieure du croque-monsieur : Mettre l’huile l’olive, après y avoir intégré le safran, sur la surface du pain Étaler la tapenade Poser le Pélardon au centre Mettre le miel sur le Pélardon Répartir les oignons sur la surface de la tranche de pain Rajouter les amandes Saupoudrer d’herbes de Provence > Recouvrir avec la seconde tranche de pain > faire chauffer dans un appareil à croque-monsieur, jusqu’à ce que le pain soit légèrement doré

Version anglaise

Crocus de Nîmes An original recipe : It is the gastronomic emblem of Nîmes. All of the ingredients could have been found during Roman times.

Ingredients 1/2 of Pélardon (goats cheese) cut into slices Wholemeal bread – ideally pain de mie Green olive tapenade Picholine du Gard Flaked almonds from the Gard Sweet onion from the Cévennes – sliced Honey from the Cévennes High qualily olive oil Thyme and aromatic herbs from the garrigue Saffron

Preparation Lightly sprinkle the bread with the saffron and with a dribble of olive oil. Spread green tapenade on one slice. Put the cheese in the middle. Spread a thin layer of honey. Sprinkle on some flaked almonds. Garnish the slice with the sweet onion. Cover with the second slice of bread. Dribble on some olive oil. Put it into a toasted sandwich machine or put it under the grill until the bread is golden and crusty.

Gilles Deschamps


Friday 22nd of January 2021

Looks nice. I am not against ( in fact all for!) " variations on a theme", but sadly the original use of lamb meat in shepherds pie is disappearing! Using beef meat would produce cottage pie, (or a variation of!) A variation of mine is to add a large dollop of Branston pickle (available?) or chutney to the meat mix, and grated cheese to the potato mash.

Sarah Ozimek

Friday 22nd of January 2021

Very true! Your variations sound delicious!

John Lefebvre

Sunday 6th of December 2020

I love Pate Chinoise and your story. I grew up in a French Canadian family in New Hampshire and loved mornings at my grand parents house and the cooking. I recently experimented a bit. I made the basic recipe but added some sour cream and shredded cheese to the mashed potatoes. Then I layered it into a pie crust with a top and baked until the crust was brown. Any creamy Campbell’s soup such as mushroom or cheddar cheese makes for a great sauce topper on your slice.

Sarah Ozimek

Sunday 6th of December 2020

Hi John! Thanks for sharing. That does sound delicious!

Melanie Caron

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

I love this recipe - almost to point of making me cry. Currently in ISO due to Covid-19 in Australia and supposed to see my french canadian familly but thats unlikely - this year. (now 4 years)

This has been a blast from the past, and much needed warm hug.

Sarah Ozimek

Thursday 9th of July 2020

I am so sorry to hear that you are separated from your family. But, I am glad that we were able to offer you a bit of comfort. I hope you and your family are able to see each other soon!


Tuesday 12th of May 2020

I haven't tried the recipe yet but I've added it to my list! It seems very similar to Hachis Parmentier and Shepherd's Pie (I'm French & British), all but without veggies and with sweetcorn. You may want to 'study' the recipe for Gratin Dauphinois. It's thinly sliced potatoes (not like French fries, just lengthwise) cooked with double cream in the oven. Towards the end, you add grated cheese and nutmeg (or mace). It used to be a big favourite at the school canteen when I was a kid.

Sarah Ozimek

Thursday 14th of May 2020

Yes! It is similar to those other two. (In fact we have recipes for all of them if you use our “Search” function.) We love Gratin Dauphinois as well! Such comfort food!

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