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Creton (spicy pork pate) - is it a Quebec thing?

Someone was asking if creton could be frozen and I was wondering what it was. It seems it is a Quebec thing. AKA gorton, corton or pork-scrap.

Someone was asking about where to find it in Massachusetts and there was a rather good discussion about it with some gratuitous recipes thrown in.

Is it called creton or cretons?

Is it like pate, rilletes or as described in the above thread ... looking like meatloaf?

Is there a good online source?

There seem to be vegetarian versions of it

What makes this of Quebec origin? Anyone know the history of it?

Some other creton info

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  1. Hi from Montreal,

    It's cretons, plural.

    IT des resemble meat loaf before portioned out for packaging, but we mainly see it in a smaller form, as in packaged in a plastic container. Every grocery store sells it in the deli section.

    It looks, to me, like gound pork sitting in lots of pork fat, then chilled. Not in the least bit appetizing but pretty tasty. Much milder than a liver pate, with a special blend of spices.

    It's commonly served with breakfast here.. Some spread it on toast with or without mustard. As a former breakfast server, I can't tellyou how many non-Quebecois have asked me, "what's CRETINS?"

    1. Pork Scrap AKA (Creton)

      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!

      1. i'm not quebecois but i am ontarian (i'm not even sure if that's what we're supposed to call ourselves) and my first experience with cretons was in montreal and i fell instantly in love.

        there's a breakfast restaurant that orginated from quebec called coras and it's made its way over to ontario. they do list cretons on the menu but so few people order it that you're unlikely to get it because they won't stock it.

        i randomly found it at a deli in one of our major farmer type markets and it's my first encounter with it outside of montreal/coras. i had to buy some and would describe it's texture somewhere between a meatloaf and pate. it has the granular texture of a meatloaf but the fat pockets make it soft enough to almost spread like a pate. i wouldn't compare it to rilettes as most rilletes i've had have a pulled/stringy quality definitely not in cretons.

        it's repulsive to my boyfriend but i really enjoy it.

        i tried scrapple in philly and it's interesting how different all these pork mash products can get. scrapple i would liken closer to spam but still not quite... it's got a softer pate likeness to it. i definitely prefer cretons.

        3 Replies
        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          My first cretons were in a Cora's in Montreal. It was quite good.

          1. re: Blueicus

            my aunt from montreal was surprised that i would try it let alone like it. she doesn't mind it but really doubted ontarioans would go for it at the coras here.

          2. re: pinstripeprincess

            Try it with mayo and mustard, gonna repulse your boyfriend even more.

            If you're a mayo bad-girl, check out my reply below for a technique for getting an un-godly amount of mayo in there.

          3. My 2 cents: It's spelled Cretons but pronounced more like Crey-toh-n ... not like crouton or baton is in english but less emphasis on the N sound... hard to explain.

            I moved to Calgary from Montreal in '99 and I'm happy to report that Chez Cora has made it's way out here and cretons is available at the Calgary Farmers Market Quebec kiosk. Now if we could only get real bagels and baguette ;)

            2 Replies
            1. re: maplesugar

              There are "real" bagels right at CFM. And Manuel Latruwe makes a killer baguette.

              1. re: John Manzo

                Thanks John, I'll have to head back to Manuel Latruwe for more goodies baguette included. I have seen the bagel place at CFM ... there was a bit of "sticker shock" when I got a good look at their price list however... mind you it'd be cheaper than overnighting some from St-Viateur :)

            2. Cretons are much softer than meat loaf, as they are typically eaten as a spread for bread, often at breakfast. Remember, this was all about people working outside on farms and forests in bitterly cold weather - people needed a lot of calories and fat, and were rarely overweight in those old photos. Modern cyberslaves must be most moderate in our consumption of such hearty victuals...

              Some homemade versions I have had are more similar to rillettes. Nowadays one can buy vegetarian cretons (Le Commensal makes a tasty version) or cretons made from chicken or veal for non-pork-eaters or those who want something rather lower in fat.

              The pronunciation of the "on" is the same in French for creton, bâton, croûton, but baton and crouton have been adopted into English, with the "n" sounded. In French it is a dipthong (changes pronunciation of vowel to a more "nasal" sound, best I can explain it non-technically).

              I don't know where you can buy cretons in Massachussets, but logically you would find it in Franco-American towns such as Lowell.

              2 Replies
              1. re: lagatta

                "In French it is a dipthong (changes pronunciation of vowel to a more 'nasal' sound, best I can explain it non-technically)."

                Technically or not, a diphthong (and since you're such a stickler for correct spelling, please note that it's *ph*, not *p*) is a combination of vowels, not of a vowel and a consonant. And, anyway, as Le Petit Robert's definition of *diphthongue* clearly states, there are no diphthongs in modern French. The *on* in *cretons* is actually a nasal vowel (see *nasal, ale, aux* in LPR for confirmation).

                1. re: carswell

                  Yes, you are absolutely right - I wasn't very awake yet when I posted that.

                  Anything to add about cretons?

              2. I was raised in massachusetts and my mom always made cretons. As an adult I found a packaged product in Salem and realized that my mom never seasoned it according to recipe. Now either I make it or I will buy at market basket (maillots cretons) or buy at thwaites market in methuen.

                1 Reply
                1. re: stoe01832

                  The product which was made in Salem (on Boston Street) was Doris' Corton, which is a variant spelling of cretons. I think she stopped making it in the mid-seventies. Another posting in this thread refers to Mailhoit's Cretons, which are made in Lewiston ME. These are a very fatty (and, in my opinion, inferior) product which you can find all over New England. Thwaite's Market in Methuen MA makes very good cretons, which are leaner than most, but will still clog the arteries if eaten too often. Thwaite's also makes individual English pork pies which are always available hot and are amazing.

                2. Found all over Maine. Boudain too. Maine has the largest % of Francophones of any state. Many high schools teach Quebecois instead of Parisian French.
                  Gravy on the fries and ployes too.!
                  If Wolfe hadn't won on the Plains of Abraham, most of Maine would still be part of Quebec. What a yummy thought.

                  1. Fairly common sight in New Brunswick as well....Costco was even carrying it at one point.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: im_nomad

                      Sounds just like a more expensive headcheese which is a French Canadian specialty.

                    2. Is it a Quebec thing? You bet! Forget the store-bought stuff! You need a grandmother like I had, who made it herself and sent it to us every Christmas! That spoils you for life - and no, she didn't ever share her recipe! Suffice to say, many, many decades later, it is still a memorable breakfast experience!!

                        1. I lived in Mass my whole life, right outside of Boston. My grandparents were both French-Canadian Mainers. Living with them when I was young, I grew up on ployes and corton (AKA cretons), pronounced (by everyone in our family at least) "cuntau", for breakfast. Having said that, I have never seen it on sale anywhere in Mass. The closest I've seen it was in a Hanaford in NH once and it can definitely be found in Maine. Be careful of what you buy though; there are sooo many different recipes for it. Depending on how you like it, it can often be either too bland or have too much seasoning. My Grandma made it pretty well seasoned, lots of clove and allspice coming through, with just a bit of cinnamon on the back of the tongue. Unfortunetly, like most of her recipes, she did it by memory so never wrote it down. After she died, my mom went through probably a half a dozen batches before she got the right combination of flavors.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: thedude469

                            old post but...you can purchase cretons (spelled gortons here, pronounced GAH-TOHns,) especially around the holidays in specialty stores and smaller markets in New Bedford, MA. try: Trucchi's super market, Normand's Meat Specialties. Cyd's Restaurant sells it to go in the winter.

                            1. re: thedude469

                              You should share the recipe with us. My parents are French Canadian and we grew up in MA. My mom also never wrote down the recipe, I tried to make it once and it was nothing like my moms. I have recently became in contact with my family still in Canada and am getting recipe's from them for the spread and meat pie. I'd like to compare recipes'

                            2. Yeah, Thwaite's Market in Methuen, MA sells homemade cretons labeled as "Gorton", a phonetic jab at the pronunciation.

                              My mom's family from the Maritimes (French speaking PEI, for ex) also made and loved cretons. For them, it was a snack spread cold on hearty crackers, but in Quebec City, the family would spread it on toast.

                              1. Pronunciation Cretons, the "e" is pronounced the same way as the "e" in "the": The-tons, Cre-tons and the "n" serves to change the sound of the "o". It's not cretone, it's creton.

                                Quebec has a strong breakfast tradition from the early times when people needed to ingest alot of food to have energy for work and to keep themselves warm. Like "fêves au lard" and "pudding au chômeur", cretons are an easy and inexpensive way to fill up before a days work.

                                No one has mentioned it, MAYO and mustard. I est my cretons with tremendous amounts of mayo and mustard as a sandwich. So much that the cook at the restaurant where I eat came up with a genius way to get the cretons on there without pushing the mayo aside. He actually flattens a portion of cretons on a piece of paper, then puts rediculous amounts of mayo on both toasts, some mustard, then he deposits his sheet of cretons thus not removing any of the mayo.

                                Note: I get my face covered in mayo.

                                Oh and I'm from Montreal. Just made some cretons yesterday.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: PewMcDaddy

                                  Not to nit-pik or anything, but the "e" in "the" is usually pronounced as a short "ah". Id say the "e" in cretons is more like the "e" in "bet". Replace the "b" in "bet" with "cr" (cret) and you'd get the first part pretty good, no?
                                  The second part is a bit more tricky and subtle. Correct, no "s" sound, no "n" sound. More like the "on" in Cordon Bleu...not cord-on, but more like cor-deau (but not quite...).
                                  I'm just sayin...

                                  Old thread, but fun to see interest.

                                  1. re: porker

                                    In the french pronunciation, it's the "e" from the (but the way I say "the") Allow me to clarify. You're right that some people say it as thah, or thee, it's the "e" form a "the". You have to say "the" and try to give a kiss at the same time. Cause if you say "thah", than you're mouth should look like you're about to take a bite out of a cheeseburger, and if you say thee like "thee Michael Jackson (the Simpsons)" then you're sorta smiling. You want a kissing "e". Makes any sense?

                                    It's the best way I have of describing that sound, can't think of anything better.

                                    "bet" is close though and easier to explain. I'd say if you go with that, then very good! And if you pronounce it that way in Montreal, you will not get funny looks.

                                    You're right about the no "s" or "n" sound. Someone explained something about "dipthongs".

                                    I don't know if in english you're supposed to say it like we do or there's some adapted way of saying it. Like do you use the french "r" or the english one when you say it.

                                    Edit: If you've learned a bit of french, you may have learned the word "Je" which is the same as "I" in english, It's exactly the "e" sound from "Je". Je-tons, Cre-tons. And if you know the word "Jetons" (like a token for a bord game or something) then that's exactly it but change the "J" for "Cr". But then again, if you know that much french, then you don't need help saying "cretons" so I guess that doesn't help much.

                                    1. re: PewMcDaddy

                                      I always smile at the pronounciation threads (saveur, bruschetta, gyro, and pho come to mind). I picture people (like you and me) making funny mouth and face shapes, obscure references, and desperately trying to nail down sounds with the written word.

                                      1. re: porker

                                        I had to look at myself in the mirror to come up with the about to eat a cheesburger "the", then the smiling "the" and the kissing "the".

                                2. I grew up in a very small town in New Hampshire, which once had a significant Quebecois French-speaking population (no one speaks French anymore). I'm half French and half Portuguese. My nana (mémère) and my Portuguese mom both had excellent versions of this paté, which was referred to locally as gorton or corton. Nana sometimes made it the old-school way with ground pork only, but both Nana and Mom also cooked a variation that included a small amount of ground beef. We always made small sandwiches with it (usually plain, but sometimes with a little Gulden's mustard) at the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays -- the kitchen and the whole house smelled great as the spicy meat boiled down. It was also used, along with bread dressing, to stuff the holiday turkey, giving the bird a subtly aromatic flavor. My mouth is watering right now.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: unclefactor

                                    I just noticed that you were from NH and you used to eat gorton. I am a NH native and I'm also half French and half Portuguese. Other than my cousins you are the only one I've met with this combination. I make gorton myself and use it mainly on toast

                                    1. re: unclefactor

                                      Unclefactor, where did you live in NH? I lived in Nashua for 60 years until I moved to Ohio. I make my own gorton and I'm also half French/Canadian and half Portuguese