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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Bolduc

Harvest Parmentier

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

A variation of the humble Québec-style shepherd’s pie with freshly harvested vegetables.

Garden version of a Québec-style shepherd's pie • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2021

A shepherd's pie is an old and typical dish to people from many countries of Europe, North America and Oceania... but there are recipe variants and ways to name it depending on where you come from. In most English-speaking countries, a shepherd's pie is made with lamb and a cottage pie with beef. The meat is minced or from a roast leftover, cooked in sauce and spices, and covered with a layer of vegetables (like peas and carrots) and a crust of mashed potatoes. In French, it is named "Hachis Parmentier": "Hachis" as finely chopped, and Parmentier after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a French pharmacist and agronomist who promoted the potato as edible food throughout Europe, at the end of the 18th century. However, in Québec, we have our version (since the 1930s) with corn in the middle of meat and potatoes, and it is commonly (and mysteriously) called a "Pâté Chinois" (meaning Chinese Pie). This is another widely debated thing from French Canadian gastronomic history, as the provenance remains unknown. The dish has nothing to do with Chinese cuisine and there are multiple hypotheses of its naming origin... The one we heard the most was that the recipe was created with readily available and affordable ingredients provided to the Canadian Pacific Railway workers (mostly of Asian origin). The Québec pie is mainly made with three layers of main ingredients: minced beef, corn kernels and mashed potatoes. "Steak, blé d'Inde, Patates" (meat, maze, potatoes) was a famous line from the humorous TV program "La petite vie", where a character needs to be reminded how to make a proper Pâté Chinois (and of course, she always fails).


Québec-style Pâté Chinois • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019


With seasonal crops of potatoes, sweet corn and beans being harvested around the same time in our garden, I thought of making this garden version. Snap beans are not usually added to this classic dish, but in my family, it was! My grandmother made it with half corn on one side, and half with yellow beans (all from tins). This was because my grandfather and uncle did not like corn. I did not mind any of them, and the middle was good with a mix of both...! In my version, I use a mix of both... except I chop some fresh green beans and remove fresh corn kernels from the cob (homegrown or locally grown). My mum's pie was (and still is, I'm sure) the best. She always added some grated cheese on top of the potatoes, which made the crust even better, and I indeed do the same. This is an economical and comforting dish, with many leftovers to save you the trouble of cooking for a few days. It can be stored in the freezer if you prefer saving some for later, especially while your garden is exploding and the cooking-the-harvest marathon is on!


Beans, steak, corn and potatoes • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2021-22


RECIPE


INGREDIENTS:

500g extra lean minced beef

2 fresh sweet corn cobs, kernels removed and blanched (or 1 tin of 400g) Snap beans bunch (about a dozen), chopped and blanched

6-8 potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

½ capsicum and/or tomato, chopped

Fresh herbs (chives, parsley, oregano, basil and/or thyme) chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

¼ cup of milk

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper


Shredded cheddar cheese for grating (optional but genial)

Tomato sauce (ketchup) for serving (optional)


PREPARATION: Boil potatoes, drain, and mash with milk and butter.

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

In a non-stick skillet or cast iron low casserole dish, sauté the onions in oil.

Add minced meat, garlic, herbs, seasoning and Worcestershire sauce and stir until cooked.

Turn off the heat and pour the meat mixture into a rectangular baker dish, or leave it in the cast iron dish.

Spread a layer of corn kernels and beans over the meat.

Then spread a layer of mashed potatoes on top.

Use a fork as a finishing tool to give the mashed potatoes a crispy texture.

If you like, top it with a bit of shredded cheese and a pinch of chopped chives.

Bake in the oven until the potato and cheese topping looks golden (about 40 minutes).

Let cool down for at least 15 minutes before serving.


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