Monday, February 15, 2010

Recipe: Creton (Pork Paté or Gorton)

For years I didn't know how to spell the title of the recipe below. Sure, I may have eaten it my entire life and even pronounced its French name near perfectly at a young age, but I never knew how to spell it. Apparently, neither did the commercial manufacturers of the stuff in my region. The closest they ever got was "gorton" which while kind of phonetic is wrong nonetheless. In fact I walked on God's green earth for about 40 years before I happened upon the correct spelling.

I was sitting in a popular Montreal breakfast diner one morning with several friends. Most were new to the city so those among us that had been before were helping with the items on the menu pointing out favorites, etc. Then someone came across "creton" and we were all stymied. We puzzled over it for a few moments and then took the next logical step and asked the waitress.

"What is this?" I asked pointing to the word in the menu.
"It is creton" she answered "a kind of pork paté."
"AH!" we all answered after hearing it in French. "We know creton!"

Creton (kind of sounds like "KrrrAW-tohn" or "GAH-taw") is a food most people with Quebecois parents or grandparents may remember growing up in my area. It is a mildly spiced pork paté spread that used to be popular and via nostalgia is gaining in popularity again. It is used at breakfast on toast and with mustard in sandwiches for lunch. Some people will use it with breadcrumbs to stuff a turkey and I'm sure there are other uses.

It's not healthfood by any stretch of the imaginaton, but it is much loved. In fact when I told my mother I had begun experimenting with it she was quite pleased. "I remember my mother's creton." she said, "It was so good on toast for breakfast."

Mom got her much loved creton on toast the very next morning. It's good stuff and simple to make. If you like French meat pies or devilled ham, give it a shot. I prefer mine on bread with mustard. It's damn yummy and makes me feel like I'm 9 years old again, running into my parents apartment to wolf down a sandwich before rejoining my friends outside.


1 pound ground pork
2 Tbs bacon fat
1 medium onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
beef stock or whole milk

Place an appropriately-sized sauce pan over medium heat.

When pan is hot, add 1 Tbs bacon fat and gently fry the ground pork until cooked through. While the pork cooks use a fork to keep crumbling it.

Add the onion, garlic, spices, salt and pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and garlic are soft and translucent.

Lower the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for about an hour.

If mixture starts to dry out add beef stock or milk to keep it at a very-thick-sauce consistency.

Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.

If needed add beef stock or whole milk so the mixture seems just spreadable.

Put the mixture in a food processor and process until fine and granular but not pasty.

Place the mixture into a glass or ceramic container and add a small layer of bacon fat over the top to seal and add extra flavor.

Refrigerate until needed. Serve on crackers as a snack, toast for a hearty breakfast or with mustard as a sandwich for lunch.


  1. Wow, that brings back memories. I should get Mom's (actually it was my great grandmother's) recipe before she's gone. Like you, I've never known the spelling ...until now. Thank you for your post!!!

  2. Right! I treasure the recipes I have in my dad's or mom's own handwriting. They are sacred texts, hopefully more so when my children get them.

  3. I ate this my entire life growing up in Connecticut. French Canadian parents on both sides and big extended family. I remember my mother using allspice as the primary spice. Also, to this day I make French Canadian meat stuffing, much like creton except with bread crumbs and potatoes....mashed together. Ahhh, memories.

  4. I have eaten this all of my life and loved it. But, like you said it is not exactly healthy. A few years ago (a few too many). I was in a Weight Watchers meeting and the leader was talking about a recipe that she got from a canadian leader which is much lower in fat and tastes the same which is all that matters. I haven't made it with pork since and if I were going to make the french stuffing I would use this recipe as the base for it. Thank you for posting the proper spelling and pronunciation.