French Canadian Shepherd’s Pie – Pâté Chinois

The French Canadian Shepherd’s Pie is one of the many classics of the Quebec culinary repertoire. In this article, I present my own version of low sodium French Canadian Shepherd’s Pie, also called ”Pâté Chinois”.

A freshly baked French Canadian Shepherd's pie serving with greens.
A freshly baked French Canadian Shepherd’s pie serving.

Renal nutrition

Red meat

First of all, be aware that red meat is not an ideal ingredient for kidney patients and it is recommended to prioritize proteins from vegetal sources instead.

However, this does not prevent you from enjoying red meat from time to time if you really want to. However, moderation is necessary. That’s why I present a version of this recipe that at least reduces sodium to make it more kidney friendly.

Potatoes and potassium

It’s no secret that French Canadian Shepherd’s pie is made with a lot of mashed potatoes. If you didn’t know, the potato is a root vegetable that contains a lot of potassium.

If you need to keep in check your potassium intake you may not want to make this recipe, or at least double boil the potatoes. Double boiling is a technique to reduce the potassium content in some vegetable by boiling them two times, using new water for the second boil.

Unsalted kernel corn

To reduce the sodium content of this recipe as much as possible, you need to use unsalted kernel corn.

Reduce the potassium content

If you need to limit your potassium intake, you can use the following tips.

The first is to boil your potatoes twice. Double boiling involves boiling your potatoes twice, replacing the cooking water for the second boil.

The second is to cut the potatoes into smaller pieces and cook them in a larger volume of water.

The nutritional value of this recipe does not take into account these tips.

Nutrition facts and claims

Here are the nutritional values and claims of this recipe.

Nutrition Facts
French Canadian Shepherd's Pie – Pate Chinois
Serving Size
 
1 serving (1/6 of recipe)
Amount per Serving
Calories
303
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
8
g
12
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Trans Fat
 
0.3
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
4
g
Cholesterol
 
49
mg
16
%
Sodium
 
154
mg
7
%
Potassium
 
1023
mg
29
%
Carbohydrates
 
37
g
Fiber
 
4
g
17
%
Sugar
 
3
g
3
%
Protein
 
21
g
Vitamin C
 
32
mg
39
%
Calcium
 
60
mg
6
%
Iron
 
3
mg
17
%
Phosphorus
 
287
mg
29
%
*5% or less is a little, 15% or more is a lot

For informational purposes only.

How to make a good French Canadian Shepherd’s pie

Don’t forget to broil

You need to broil for a few minutes your French Canadian Shepherd’s pie to get a slightly crispy top. This is an important part of the recipe.

Prioritize lean meat

When buying your ground beef, prioritize leaner meat to reduce the amount of fat. This way, you can significantly reduce the amount of saturated fat you will consume.

Cook thoroughly you ground beef

You need to cook your ground beef until it starts to turn brown and become a little crispy. This is how you will get the best flavor from it.

French Canadian shepherd’s pie variations

Here are the variations I suggest if you want to customize your French Canadian shepherd’s pie.

Use cream corn

One of the most well-known variations of this recipe is to use cream corn instead of grain corn. On the other hand, it may contain salt. Don’t forget to look at the sodium content before buying it at the store if you use it.

Play with spices

Many different spices can be used to customize this recipe. Personally, I like to add cumin to ground beef while cooking it. Sometimes I also add garlic powder and herbs to mashed potatoes.

Plant based proteins

This recipe is ideal for introducing plant based proteins. This is a very convenient way to reduce your red meat intake and get into the habit of consuming more plant based protein for those who are not used to it.

To do this, you just need to replace half of the meat with cooked lentils, tempeh or tofu that you will crumble.

Root vegetables

Another easy and delicious variations is to replace some of the potatoes with other root vegetables. For example, you can use carrots, parsnips, turnips, etc.

More recipes

If you like this recipe, you might also like these:

Low Sodium Meat Mix for Burritos and Tacos

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

Classic Low Sodium Meatloaf

A kidney friendlier version of the classic pate chinois.

French Canadian Shepherd’s Pie – Pate Chinois

A low sodium variation of an old recipe that continues to garnish tables and offer a warm family meal. Made with few ingredients, this French Canadian Shepherd's pie is a classic.
4.7 from 10 votes
PREP TIME15 mins
COOK TIME1 hr
TOTAL TIME1 hr 15 mins
SERVINGS6 servings
KIDNEY NUTRITIONHigh phosphorus | High potassium | High protein | Low sodium | Source of fiber | Source of iron
PRINT RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups potatoes peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups unsalted whole kernel corn or unsalted cream corn

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
  • Put the diced potatoes in a saucepan filled with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Then, let simmer over medium heat for at least 15 minutes or until tender under a fork. If you have to limit your potassium intake, consider double boiling your potatoes. (Note 1)
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the garlic and onion until soft.
  • Add the ground beef to the pan and cook until slightly brown and crispy. Break the meat finely in the pan with a wooden spoon during cooking and set aside once fully cooked.
  • Drain the potatoes when they are ready and put them in a bowl.
  • Pour the milk over the potatoes and puree them with a potato fork or a potato masher until you get a smooth texture. If your mashed potatoes aren't smooth enough, add a little more milk. Put your puree aside when it's ready.
  • Cover the bottom of an 8" (20 cm) square baking dish with the cooked ground beef.
  • Add a uniform layer of whole kernel corn over the meat.
  • Add a uniform layer of mashed potatoes over the corn.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the layer of mashed potatoes is golden.
  • Bake on broil (500°F – 260°C) for 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven when the top is lightly broiled and let cool a little before serving.

NOTES

Note 1 – Reduce potassium content
If you need to limit your potassium intake, you can use the following tips.
The first is to boil your potatoes twice. Double boiling involves boiling your potatoes twice, replacing the cooking water for the second boil.
The second is to cut the potatoes into smaller pieces and cook them in a larger volume of water.
The nutritional value of this recipe does not take into account these tips.
Note 2 – Best served with
This recipe is great when served with a garden salad and lots of fresh vegetables.
 

NUTRITION FACTS

Nutrition Facts
French Canadian Shepherd's Pie – Pate Chinois
Serving Size
 
1 serving (1/6 of recipe)
Amount per Serving
Calories
303
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
8
g
12
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Trans Fat
 
0.3
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
4
g
Cholesterol
 
49
mg
16
%
Sodium
 
154
mg
7
%
Potassium
 
1023
mg
29
%
Carbohydrates
 
37
g
Fiber
 
4
g
17
%
Sugar
 
3
g
3
%
Protein
 
21
g
Vitamin C
 
32
mg
39
%
Calcium
 
60
mg
6
%
Iron
 
3
mg
17
%
Phosphorus
 
287
mg
29
%
*5% or less is a little, 15% or more is a lot

For informational purposes only. Nutrition data is primarily calculated from the USDA National Database. Values may vary from accuracy of measurements, brands, nutritional data and more. All measurements are metric (1 cup = 250ml). Readers are encouraged to make their own calculations.

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