Pate Chinois!! That was the answer whenever we were visiting my Grandmother in St-Gregoire, the small (*small*) town about two hours north of Montreal, Quebec. This French Canadian rendition of Shepard's Pie is supposedly named so as a dish Chinese cooks made for the rail workers during the building of the North American railroads in the late 19th century.
The question was , qu'est-ce que vous voulez pour souper? Or what do you want for dinner. This was my absolut fav, a combination of silky potato pillows over sweet corn, and rich buttery ground beef- served with ketchup.
This is one of my fondest food memories. As an adult, I have adopted a diet with less meat.
This revised recipe is savory- a touch of miso paired with mushroom and walnut gives the tofu that craveable umami I am looking for in the ground beef component.
Don't be scared by the long ingredient list, this recipe is adjustable to what you have in your pantry- if you don't have red wine vinegar, use what you have on hand, if you don't have liquid smoke (it's a wonderful pantry item I recommend buying) but just omit it.
**Check the shop for pottery featured in this post!**
Preparation 1h30, Serves 4
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- 4 medium potatoes, cut in half or quartered if especially large, for quick cooking
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 1/2 cups diced baby bella mushrooms
- 1/2 cup roasted walnuts
- 1/2 table spoon butter
- couple tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon dry oregano
- pinch clove or one clove ground
- pinch fennel, ground
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon miso
- 2 splash white wine (I used chardonnay)
- 1 can sweet corn kernel (14 oz)
- 1 can creamed corn (14 oz)
- 1/2 tbsp liquid smoke
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- Salt and Pepper to taste
*Twist - add boiled or steamed turnip or cauliflower to the mashed potatoes for extra veggie points!
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Drain, rinse and press tofu to remove excess water so it can better absorb flavors. I usually sandwich the tofu between two plates, and set a heavy cast iron for weight on top for about 15 mins.
2. Set a pot of salted water & boil potatoes.
3. Saute onion in 1/2 a tbsp butter over medium heat until softened (5 mins), add garlic for a few more minutes, and then the mushrooms & spices. Drizzle with olive oil if pan is getting dry. Saute for 10 min, stirring occasionally. Once mushroom is browning around the edges, crumble in tofu. Your going for a ground beef texture.
4. Add a couple of splashes of white wine to deglaze pan, and a tablespoon of miso, the red wine and the liquid smoke, allow to cook for 10 mins.
5. Add walnuts, and fresh parsley, remove from heat.
6. Prepare whipped potato- I prefer to leave the peels of the potatoes on if I am using organic for extra nutrition. If organic is not available, I peel potatoes after boiling (instead of before), because it's easier! Mash potatoes with milk, whipped cream, and remaining tablespoon of butter. Salt and Pepper to taste.
7. In a separate bowl, mix creamed corn and kernel corn.
8. Assemble the components- the tofu mixture on bottom, followed by corn layer, and top with the mashed potatoes, using a spatula or large spoon to smooth out the top.
9. Pop in the oven for 25 min, or until it is bubbling and the top is browning. Serve Warm, with ketchup if your me, and the remaining wine!
- What to do with the little odds and ends? I freeze the parsley stems, and onion bottoms- when I have enough to fill a pot, I add water, and boil for an hour- it's the best stock I can get my hands on! and recycle the empty wine bottle