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Any Quebeckers down here that know of a reliable place to purchase good, fresh cretons? With the cold weather here, I have a yen for cretons and toast. I have stolen my mom's recipe to make my own, and I know homemade is best but let's face it...with the holidays and overnight guests I'm going to get lazy.

Thwaite's market in Methuen, Mass has long been my standby but in recent months I've found their cretons (which they charmingly spell Gorton....like the fisherman?) fatty and tasteless. Help?

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  1. I don't know about that particular Canadian style of pork pâté, but you might call some other places known for their charcuterie: the Formaggios (Huron Village and the South End), L'Alouette in Lexington, Savenor's, DeLuca's.

    1. Why hasn't anyone opened a Quebecker restaurant in Boston?

      A lot of the places MC Slim listed would probably make it for you, especially if you were getting a reasonable quanity. John Dewar's in Newton Center or Wellesley might be able to hook you up.

      [sorry for the edit, quantity and quality are not the same.]

      1 Reply
      1. re: sailormouth

        It's been about 8 years since I went to Quebec City and Montreal, but even there, I could only find one restaurant that served classic Quebecois cuisine at the time (things like classic Quebec pea soup, meat pies, duck in maple syrup sauce, sugar pie, spruce beer). And I looked hard, too. That place was Aux Anciens Canadiens in the walled Haute-Ville part of Quebec City, and I liked it so much I went a few times.

        Given how hard it was to find a real Quebecois restaurant in Quebec, I'd guess the chances of one coming to Boston are slim indeed.

      2. Thank you MCSlim and sailormouth. Sailor, I work just five 10 minutes from Newton center and you can bet I'll check out Dewar's. That's a good question about quebecois food in Boston...especially around the holidays and during the winter, it's such good stuff--real home cooked comfort food. I am guessing it wouldn't fly because of all that meat and spice and maple; health nuts could freak out over tourtiere. But it sure is good stuff. A lot of the dishes are so simple and so delicious--the sugar pies, turnip dishes. Sigh.

        1. I can't say that I've seen cretons in this area. Maybe some of the french-canadian areas such as Fall River, or Somersworth NH, or Lewiston, ME..... but that is a drive.
          I'd love to see some Quebecois food on a menu in Boston, but so far I haven't. Although the diner in Watertown serves Ployes which is an Acadian specialty.
          I'd recommend brewing up some good coffee for some inspiration, and working on that recipe. Laziness is how recipes never get passed on and culture is lost.

          1 Reply
          1. re: uman

            Thank you so much, IreneC. Fantastic information for a new Lowell-area resident.

          2. You don't have to look any farther than Lowell. Fresh-made creton (gorton, corton or pork-scrap, depending on your family's origin) is available at Cote's Market on Salem Street, 978-458-4635. You will also find such Quebecois comfort food as pork pie (toutiere), salmon pie, and habitant-style pea soup (made with yellow peas). Right now Cote's is taking orders for Thanksgiving, which includes French-style meat stuffing (made with ground pork.
            Also, although not fresh-made, some Market Basket stores in the Lowell area carry creton and pork pies from a company in Maine. I believe the brand is Malliot. They sell them in the meat counter.
            And a little local restaurant, A Family Affair on Lakeview Ave in Lowell serves, Quebec-style crepes on Sat. and Sun. Vic's Pastry Shop sells pork pies and salmon pies and the adjacent restaurant serves individual pork pies at breakfast.
            For pork pies and salmon pies, there are also several places in Fall River that sell them, for instance Plourde's Bakery, I believe on North Main St. and Hartley's Pork Pies, the South Main St. location.
            Of course, you can always make your own creton. I have my Memere's recipe and several others that I've collected over the years.

            6 Replies
            1. re: IreneC

              Irene...You bet I'll go there. I'm about to mapquest it because I'm woefully ignorant about Lowell geography beyond the immediate downtown area. Thank you!

              1. re: thegolferbitch

                That is a pretty impressive post IreneC (thank you Chowhound!), I'm doing my own Googlemap-Lowell research now for a trip.

                Not knowing much about Lowell, what else would you recommend (maybe a new post about this might be good?)?

              2. re: IreneC

                That's a cool post IreneC -- thanks. Do any of those joints sell poutine? I saw galleygirl's post about cheese curds so I could try making it at home, but I'm not so into cooking the fries in my kitchen, making up the gravy, etc. I'd like to know of a place that serves it to a hungry public.

                1. re: yumyum

                  For poutine, try La Petite Cafe - a new place in Greenfield, MA. 90 west of Boston. A small shop, but good food.

                2. re: IreneC

                  I have been trying to find a creton recipe forever...the ones I have found are made with milk - did your Memere make hers that way - mine in Maine used water I think....

                  1. re: IreneC

                    My mom's pork scrap was stringy. She used a pork shoulder (I think). Does that sound familiar? Do you have any recipes like that? I wish I had my Memere's recipies.

                  2. Do you usually eat cretons for breakfast? My husband and I took a small vaca up in Quebec City (which is a lovely city by the way) and we stayed in a bed & breakfast. Well, for breakfast they served us this meatloaf looking thing. We didn't know what it was and unfortunately, didn't bother asking the waitress. Just from reading the replies and the description of a creton, I'm assuming that was what was served to us. Am I right?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: girlygirl

                      Cretons are excellent on toast for breakfast. Yes, cretons would have looked like a meatloaf type thing.

                    2. Middydd is right. Sometimes you'll see people spread it right on toast. Sometimes they add a little mustard. Some add jam. All at breakfast!

                      But I have also used cretons on tea sandwiches, spread thinly. I've used it as an ingredient in stuffing. And my ma (Quebecois to the core) would spread cold cretons on crackers or thinly sliced, toasted baguette rounds when company came, topped by a sliver of cheese, or pimento.

                      Basically, girlygirl, you can do just about anything but brush your teeth with cretons (and god knows, I wish I could)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: thegolferbitch

                        I'm of the same opinion as thegolferbitch. You can eat cretons (my family calls it "gorton" or "corton") any time with any thing! Since I was a young girl, we've eaten it on soft bread with mustard for lunch or spread it on toast for breakfast or on crackers for an appetizer. It's the all-Canadian-American diverse food! I'm about to make a batch to bring as an appetizer to an all-Italian Thanksgiving feast. We'll see how that goes!

                      2. Best Corton in my opinion can be purchased at Steves Market in Salem, Ma. I grew up with my family speaking French as my grandfather was from Quebec. There was once a HUGE population of French Canadians in Salem... We ate Corton on toast for breakfast WAY to often as it cant possibly be good for you! All that fat is what makes it taste good! Another good place for Corton is Henry's in Beverly. Good luck!

                        1. Pork Scrap

                          1 ½ Pounds of Pork

                          1 ½ Cups of Bread Crumbs

                          1 ½ Cups of Milk

                          1 ¼ Tsp. Salt

                          1 ¼ Tsp. Pepper

                          1 ½ Tsp Cinnamon

                          ¾ Tsp Ground Cloves

                          1 Med Onion (Chopped Fine)

                          Cook On Med Heat for 1 to 1 ½ Hours Refrigerate ……..Enjoy!

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: thunderbird533

                              No breadcrumbs in my family's recipe or milk!

                            2. If you feel like driving a "few more" miles, there is a place in Hudson NH called Bull Run Beef on Route 3A - Yummy. You take exit 2 off route 3 take a left, then it's a couple miles give or take down the road on the right. They also have Pork pie and another place in Hooksett NH.

                              1. market basket carries maillot's, which is made in maine. I do think that thwaites is a pretty good product.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: stoe01832

                                  Thanks to all of you for whetting me appetite for cretons (we called them cortons in Salem, MA; in NH, they say gortons....supposed to be always in the plural, like vittles). We'll be meeting a gang of friends for lunch in Salem tomorrow (Bertini's) and methinks we'll stop at Steve's Market for starters. As transplants from there to NH, we've gotten to dine at many places, whether at b'fast, lunch, or dinner. Chez Vachon, on Kelley Street on the west side of Manchester, serves poutine, much liked by me Irish wife.

                                2. A new find to report in a most unexpected place, a little breakfast/lunch place called Emerald's Eatery in a strip mall in South Windsor, CT at the intersection of Ellington Rd. and Route 30. You can get a side of cretons at breakfast for $1.50. My 87 year-old French-Canadian Mother called it "not bad", which from her is high praise. The owner makes it on the premises. Although it's not on the lunch menu, I was told you can get a large container to go for $5.00. This little spot also serves good homemade soups and generous sandwiches.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: IreneC

                                    I'll check out Emerald's next time I'm in CT. There's also Chez Ben in Manchester (CT), on Middle Turnpike near where you get on/off I-84. They do poutine - "regular" and a lunch version which adds green peas and chicken - both are great. You can also get pork or salmon pies, either to eat there or whole pies to go.

                                  2. I've been making gorton(that'swhat it is called here) all my life, learned it from my French Canadian Mother and Grand Mother.

                                    A very simple to make recipe:

                                    2 -3 lbs Ground Pork
                                    1 large onion finely chopped
                                    salt & pepper
                                    1 tblsp ground cloves
                                    1 tblsp Bell's poultry seasoning
                                    Put all ingredients in large pot and add water to cover
                                    simmer and stir to break up pork to a fine consistency untill fully cooked

                                    ladle into small covered containers and refridgerate.

                                    Some French Canadians use cinnamon instead of the poultry seasoning but my grandmother said those people didn't know what they were doing!!

                                    1. growing up in southern New Hampshire which has a large French Canadian population we practically grew up on Gorton sandwiches for lunch (on white bread with yellow mustard. I still make it regularly

                                      1. greetings from south eastern MA!
                                        my memere and grand memere used to make Gorton.....
                                        grand memere was the youngest of 13 who started out in the Montreal area and eventually ended up in Fall River. lovely fatty clovey pork spreadable goodness came with them.
                                        i have been able to find gorton in stop and shop and shaws.... though i haven't looked recently as the product tends to be very fatty and not terribly tasteful....
                                        rather, it tastes terrible....

                                        of course, memere never measured or wrote anything down......
                                        kids! you must VIDEOTAPE these old people cooking!!! it's near impossible to get recipes out of them.... short of waterboarding....

                                        anyway..... using some fairly standard recipes, my mother and i were able to recreate memere's gorton in our own image..... so to speak....

                                        so, yes you can find the stuff in most grocery stores..... you may have to look though, deli section, french section, spreadable meats section.. who knows....

                                        your best bet, is still to make it yourself.....
                                        season to taste.... we use less fat, nice lean ground pork and while it's still warm i whizz it up in the food processor to almost a peanut butter consistency.... refridgerate (or freeze) and spread on toast as needed.....

                                        my wife isn't a big fan.... more for me!! muuahahhahaa!!!

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: inerlogic

                                          FYI - Market Basket has it sometime (althought the quality is questionable). Steve's Quality Market in Salem, MA has great Corton (that is how my french canadian Mother in Law spells it). There used to be a huge frech/french canadian population in Salem, and Steve's still lives up to the tradition! - yum.

                                          1. re: ccsw

                                            hey all you CRETONS lovers! i just made a fresh batch here, this is my mom's recipe, she was born and raised in quebec city....we used to eat this along with tourtiere, sugar pies, sucre a creme, with soooo many more goodies, for our reveillons, Christmas eve feast. i looked for other recipes, but my mom's is the only one that used all spice in place of all the other spices. so here it is...i dont know where to buy it, since i live in NC, i just would rather make it fresh.


                                            1 lb ground pork
                                            1/2 of onion, minced
                                            1 clove of garlic, minced
                                            1/2 cup of water
                                            1/4 tsp of all spice
                                            1/8 tsp of cloves
                                            1/4 cup bread crumbs

                                            brown the meat until no longer pink. add onions, garlic, spices, and water. cook on low for about 1 hour. add the bread crumbs. cook 10 min more. put in small bowls. good for about a week, if it lasts that long! i like to make extra and freeze it, so then you have it whenever you want without all the work. serve it on toast with a little mustard, or on crackers for a snack. you really cant mess this up! enjoy!

                                            1. re: joirishrose

                                              Looks interesting, forgive me ignorance but is it served cold? I used to make a similar mixture but put it in won ton wrappers and deep fried them.

                                              1. re: Pegmeister

                                                Peg, according to the recipe linked below, it says let cool before serving.

                                                1. re: Pegmeister

                                                  Yes, served cold. Almost like a poor-man's pate. I think you almost have to grow up eating it, like I did . . . both my parents are french-canadian from Fall River, Massachusetts area & my grandmother made dishes & dishes of it each year at Christmas time. We basically inhaled it on white toast.

                                            2. re: inerlogic

                                              Yes, the pork is definitely leaner these days. We therefore don't cook it until it's dry but leave a bit of water (not swimming). And using a potato masher several times during cooking (from mid-point on) may alleviate the need for the food processor.

                                            3. this is a recipe that my mom made for us when we were young, and i continued the tradition with my family. she is from quebec city and this is how they made it where she lived. this CRETONS recipe is similar to what you would find online...only my mom used allspice instead of the other different individual spices. hope you enjoy it, i just made a fresh batch....i dont live up north, so i have to make all my french goodies from scratch. i also have recipes for tourtiere, ragout au boullettes, sucre a creme, and a few others if anyone is interested.


                                              2 lbs ground pork
                                              1/2 onion, minced
                                              2 small cloves of garlic, minced
                                              1/4 tsp allspice
                                              1/8 tsp ground cloves
                                              salt to taste
                                              pepper to taste
                                              1/2 to 3/4 cup of water
                                              1/4 cup of bread crumbs

                                              cook the ground pork with onions and garlic until no longer pink. then add the spices and water. cook for about 1 hour 30 min. add the bread crumbs, cook another 10 minutes. i like to take and blend it a little so the meat is very very fine. pour into small bowls and refrigerate overnight. you can also freeze it. serve on toast with a nice mustard, or just serve on crackers. (this is an ammended recipe i submitted before.)

                                              1. Cote's Market on Salem Street in Lowell is where I get mine. I grew up in the neighborhood in the early 70's and back then it was still mostly French-Canadian. You can also get Tourtiere (pork pie), beans (brown and white) and other home cooked goodies. Everything is home made. I think the tourtiere is available all year, though I'm not sure since we only get it during Christmas. Cote's does a huge pork pie business in December, and have a huge bean business all year round.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: mlamoureux2

                                                  I purchased store made cretons at Vermette's market in Amesbury, MA.
                                                  Mostly "old french ladies buy the stuff" and they only sell it in the winter because "the French Canadians don't eat pork in the summer"

                                                  1. re: JimJamie

                                                    Corton (the spelling for my native Quebec grandparents). My mother has made this pork dish since we were children. In Massachusetts you can find two variations at Henry's Market in Beverly. Of course, nothing is as good as Mom's, but it's not bad!

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                                                  2. re: mlamoureux2

                                                    I bought tourtiere there in July....delicious, although I dislike crusts made with oil, as theirs seems to be. I know little about French-Canadian foods - is tourtiere defined as cretons baked in a crust, or are the fillings different?

                                                  3. Corton (the spelling for my native Quebec grandparents). My mother has made this pork dish since we were children. In Massachusetts you can find two variations at Henry's Market in Beverly. Of course, nothing is as good as Mom's, but it's not bad!

                                                      1. Joined this site looking for a restaurant for New Year's eve and was really interested to see this post on Cretons. My grandparents were the real deal--Fench/Canadian born and raised in southerrn Quebec. I am eating some now that I bought at the IGA in Lacolle last week. The labels in Quebec always write it as Cretons. In french, with the raspy-throat sound, it sort of sounds like Gratons. There are many varieties in Lacolle, some made with veal, but I always get the traditioanl pork, sometimes labeled Cretons de Maison. We ate this often growing up, particularly around the holidays. We always eat it on Saltine crackers--great with some sharp cheddar. I have also had it a some dinners and a few restaurants in Quebec served as an appetizer in small cubes. If you get to Lacolle, try the IGA. There is also a butcher shop on a farm there that makes excellent Creton, ham, smoked meat, and tourtierre. Ah, that great French/Canadian quisine, and so healthy.

                                                        I was interested to see the recipies here and may try to make some of my own. Not surpised to see the powdered cloves in the recipies. This is also used in the tourtiere (pork pie) and the boulettes (pork meat balls) that we make.

                                                        1. Really glad this old thread resurfaced. I made my very first batch this morning. I opted, this time, for the version with spices next time I'll try the one with Bell's. The recipe is so simple. I did, however, run it through the food processor for a smoother texture. My first taste was on ritz crackers with a dab of spicy garlic mustard on top. My second taste, I spread cream cheese on the cracker first then the spread and mustard -- delicious!! This recipe is a keeper. Thanks all.

                                                          1. I married a girl from Attleboro Mass whose family is of French Canadian descent. Was introduced to gorton (pronounced in their family as gat (rhymes with cat) tawn - (rhymes with lawn). No one ever spelled it, but on our honeymoon in Quebec City, saw it listed as "French Gorton" in a little food shop in Vieux Quebec. We like it on toast (my wife) or english muffin with butter (me). My innovation is to top a buttered english muffin spread with gorton with a fried egg (sunny side up with the bottom crispy, yolk still runny). My wife nicknamed my creation "Cochon" and it's great for breakfast on a cold winter morning. Bon appetit!

                                                            1. Mailhot's Sausage Co. in Lewiston, Maine makes cretons just like Memere's, and has been doing so for 100 years... Theirs are just like the ones I've tried in Quebec as well. This morning I stumbled upon a newspaper article about Mailhot's while looking for a link to include in a blog entry:

                                                              1. !Coton! as my family called it was eaten on very dark pieces of toast (most likely they were burned) with yellow mustard. This was made by Mem each holiday, and generally rinsed down with Molson beer. This faux pate wasn't my thing, I can distinctly recall the bitter punch and the sharp flavor of Bell's seasoning....Deviled Ham was my substitute....yuck!! I surely had the palalte of a five year old then.

                                                                And I have to agree about the recipe absence/hiding....what's up??? The finished product wasn't worth all the drama it created, but man there was lots of it. From !Coton! to whoopie-pies to banana bread (laced with Salitnes) the family dysfunction never died out.

                                                                I must commend Pep, he would always have a salad of chickory with oil &vinegar, salt & pepper before every meal. Raw Bemuda onions on sanwiches with his pupmernickle bread...noone eats like that anymore!

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: cabie

                                                                  I grew up on cretons, both my parents are French-Canadian, You are better off making it than buying it. super easy, and much better tasting.My ingredients include lard, because todays pork is way too lean for cretons- the fat is what makes it so tasty, and gives it the creamy texture! Don't omit it-you will end up with a dry crumbly product! fat acts as the "glue" to make it an adhesive spread.

                                                                  1lb ground pork
                                                                  1/2 cup of lard (pork fat)
                                                                  1 cup milk
                                                                  1 medium onion diced
                                                                  1 small clove garlic grated
                                                                  1/2 tsp clove
                                                                  1/2 tsp allspice
                                                                  1/2 tsp cinnamon
                                                                  1 1/2 tsp salt
                                                                  1/4 tsp black pepper
                                                                  1/4 cup homemade bread crumbs
                                                                  put all ingredients into pot EXCEPT the bread crumb.cook over medium heat for about one hour, add bread crumbs, cook for a few minutes more, place in containers and refrigerate.

                                                                  1. re: athina

                                                                    Athina, you're the only one who knows what she's doing. You need lots of pork fat to make "real" creton (people in Lowell called it "greton"). My mother made it all the time and we often used it as lunch meat.


                                                                    1. re: rjb00x

                                                                      Nice, exactly 1 year later, to the day!

                                                                      Damn, now I want some creton. I found some Gorton at the Stop & Shop in Natick.

                                                                2. Dear GB: Cretons are so simple to make, pork, bread crumbs, seasonings, cream or milk some grated onion, all put together in a pot and boiled down for 40 minutes. Pressed into a pan and cooled.
                                                                  Just replace the bread slices with 1/4 cup of plain bread crumbs and you will be making a very traditional recipe.
                                                                  As for not finding traditional french canadian food you might be more successful if you go to a Cabane a sucre, as you will get the pea soup, the tourtiere, piclked beets, ham and crepes, cretons etc. Some are opened year round. Also just outside Quebec city there is a restaurant on the island of L'Isle D'Orleans right on the main road and they are noted for serving traditional food.

                                                                  1. Whoever said to put Bell's poultry seasoning in cretons is way off base. I am French-Canadian, and my grandmothers, aunts, mother all used the same flavor profile, which include clove, cinnamon, allspice-with, of course, plenty of onion. poultry seasoning is not even close to the flavor of cretons.For those of you out there who want the authentic, please scroll down below for an authentic recipe, you wont regret it, I promise.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: athina

                                                                      Hello Athina, I'm with you on no poultry seasoning in the cretons. From a recent Facebook posting, i got the notion that the addition of that ingredient might be an Acadian thing. Bears verifying.