Today's lunch: Cretons Francais Few people have heard of this dish and I don't know why. It’s a French Canadian recipe that is older than the hills. It harkens back to the French dishes of Rillettes and, perhaps, Pâté. Cretons is a meat spread used for sandwiches or canapés. Traditionally made with pork, Cretons has been made with many meats, to include moose. It seems to me a way to make a tasty meat spread using lesser cuts of pork. And it preserves well. I learned to make Cretons from a Canadian who had a closely-guarded family recipe. I had assumed that it was a dish that was only homemade, so I was a bit surprised to find that Cretons is made commercially. It was still popular during the war and was rationed. Edmonton Journal, 10 Sep 1945 I found a couple of wartime recipes; this is a good example from the Montreal Gazette: The Gazette, 27 May 1944 Note that recipes vary quite a bit: Canadian family cooking: the best of regional recipes by Norman Kolpas I think every family has their own ‘secret recipe’, but the essentials are slow simmered pork ground and blended into a paste with onion, garlic, and spices. Use more or less spice as you wish. Same with the garlic. Fat is crucial in this dish. Use a nice fatty bit of pork or ask the butcher for some pork fat to add in while cooking. As the pork cooks, stir the fat back into the mix. It can be made with water and/or wine, but has a richer flavor (and I think is more historically 'true') when made with milk. Here’s what I did: Ingredients: 1.5 cups milk 3 pounds pork (shoulder is good), cut into chunks 1 yellow onion, minced 3 cloves of garlic, minced 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon thyme 2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup bread crumbs blitzed finely in a food processor Method: Place all ingredients (except bread crumbs) into a large pot, cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. (This can be made in a crock pot or slow cooker, too. Set it and forget it. Let cool and then continue as below.) If it starts to become dry, add some water or milk to keep meat covered. When very soft (falling apart), remove lid and continue to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in bread crumbs and mix for next 5-6 minutes. The mixture should be thick. Let cool thoroughly. Once cool, run through meat grinder using fine plate. (I run the mix through twice.) Store in jars or zip top bags. This freezes well. Serve on toast. I like it topped with mustard, fresh onion, or pickles. (I’ve been reliably told by a genuine French Canadian that it should be eaten plain on toast and that mustard is heresy. Consider me a heretic.) Results: Mrs Jack loved this. “OMG!” She scarfed her sandwich down in the blink of an eye. OK, it is good, really good, but I don’t think it warrants that much excitement. As a way to use up some pork scraps, I think it excels. And it is a little addictive, too. Definitely worth a try. Experiment with the spices. Develop your own "secret family recipe." I'm still working on refining my recipe, but I do now have few jars in the freezer for a rainy day….