The best cretons recipe in Quebec
Before writing this article, I have searched all around the internet in order to find the best possible recipe. Only judging based on pictures and written text is not very obvious. My interest has stopped on this recipe, on the site Catherine Cuisine, gourmandise assurée, plaisir assuré.
The interest is that they add panko, a type of japanese breading that they mix with warm milk. Prepared with butter, good spices and leeks, the result is superb, the cretons are rich and sumptuous. I have tried it.
For those who do not know what cretons are, they are a traditionnal Québécois meal, usually eaten at breakfast. Cretons are a type of cold cut made with ground porc. When the meat used is not porc, it is called cretonnade, generally used with leaner meats, like veal or chicken.
In Quebec, there exist many cretons recipes. In this article, I will show you four, including the one from Catherine Cuisine. What sets them apart most of the time is the technique that gives the paté it's consistence. Traditionnally, people used pork panne, a firm and white fat that you find under the pig's skin. In many other recipes, people use gelatin, which makes it less rich and healthier. The spices usually used are cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or jamaican chili peppers. At the end of the cooking, to add a bit of flavour, you can add herbs like dill, corianger, rosemary, sage or thyme. Here is one of the four recipes.
1- Recipe from Catherine Cuisine
1 onion, ground very finely
2 french leeks, very finely ground
2 garlic bulbs, very finely ground
1/3 of a cup (85g) of butter (you can reduce the quantity of butter but the texture will not be the same)...the butter replaces the quantity of lard from traditionnal cretons.
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 pinch of jamaican chili pepper
1 pinch of ground nutmeg
1 pinch of ground cloves
250 ml (1 cup) of panko breading or crumbled bread
375 ml (1 1/2/ cup) of warm milk
500g (around 1 lb) of meduim-rare ground pork (you can also use ground veal, not too lean, but the taste will not be the same, obviously.)
Salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a pan and cook the onion, the leeks, the garlic and the spices for a few minutes, at verylow temperature, without browning them. Let the onions and the leeks tenderize and the spices let their flavours in the butter. During this time, put the panko in the warm milk. Incorporate the meat and the mix of milk andpanko into the pan. Mix well.
Note that at this stage, there exists a variant, that you cook the mix in the oven. Personally, I have simply cooked them in a pan for an hour, and it has worked very well.
Variant in the oven: But in a pot and cover. Cook at 300 F/ 150 C for 90 minutes, while moving it from time to time so that it doesn't become solid. Take off the cover and continue the cooking for another 30 minutes. Divide the cretons in little pots, like glass pots. Leave it to cool down. Recover with a plastic wrap or a cover and put in the fridge. Eat on a piece of bread, breakfast toast or crackers, or in a sandwich.
2: Old-fashioned cretons (from a traditionnal quebecois recipe book)
1 kg (2 1/4 lb) of lean ground porc.
500 g (1lb) ground veal
125 ml (1/2 cup) of ground onions
375 ml (1/4 cup) of water
450 g (1 lb) porc fat
Pepper and salt
1/2 teaspoon (3 ml) ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) cinnamon
Mix the porc, the veal, the onions and the water. Cook on medium heat during the complete reduction of the liquid, around 2 hours and a half. Melt the fat and add the meat to the seasoning. Let it cool for a few minutes in cold water. Pour in small pots and let it cool before putting it in the refrigerator.
3- Recipe from the Chaudière-Appalaches region
This recipe is different from the others because of the use of gelatine, which gives the cretons it's consistence.
550 g (1 1/4 lb) lean ground porc
90 ml (3 oz) ground celery
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) ground onions
550 g (1 1/4 lb) ground beef
300 ml (1 1/2 cup) of water
5 ml (1 teaspoon) garlic salt
20 ml ( 4 teaspoons) neutral gelatine
Salt and pepper
150 ml (2/3 cup) cold water
Melt the ground porc in a saucepan. Make the celery and onions sweat. Add the beef anf cook a bit. Wet with water. Add the garlic salt, add salt and pepper and let it stew for an hour. Put the gelatin in the cold water. Add the gelatin to the mixture and let it dissolve well. Pour in a mold pf 1 litre ( 4 cups). Let it cool in the refirgerator.
4- Rabbit cretons recipe from Manicouagan
For those who don't know, the Manicouagan region is a territory that follows the St-Laurence river on the north coast, bordered to the west by the Saguenay river and to the east by the Pointe des Monts municipality. One of the main touristic attractions of the region is whale watching. This recipe is the most sophisticated of the four, which, in my opinion, is the one you would most likely find in a fancy restaurant. The preparation seems fastidious but is really worth it.
500 grams (around 1 lb)of pork shoulder
525 grams (1 lb 1/4) rabbit
salt and pepper
160 grams (around 5 oz) of pork fat
150 grams (5 oz) kidney
Boil the rabbit and pork for around an hour. Salt and pepper. De-bone the rabbit and pork and put the meat in the meat grinder. Cut the fat in cubes and melt them, reuse the melted fat. Let the kidneys sweat for 3 hours, and put them in the meat grinder. Cook all the meats for around 45 minutes. Check the seasoning and let them cool down. Bon apétit!