What are Cretons?

O. Parker

Cretons are a French-Canadian savory dish that is considered part of Quebec's cuisine. The dish, made from pork and a variety of spices, is most commonly served as a breakfast dish. Cretons is a spreadable meat dish that resembles a light version of pate. It is traditionally served with fresh, crusty French bread.

Cloves are often used to season cretons.
Cloves are often used to season cretons.

Like many traditional food dishes, there are a variety of different combinations of spices and seasonings that can be used to make cretons. Traditionally, the dish was made with the fattiest pieces of pork available, along with lard, milk, bread crumbs, onions, garlic, salt and a combination of spices such as ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. A modern interpretation of the dish uses lean pork and no lard, but the rest of the ingredients are the same.

Lard is traditionally used in cretons, but it has been widely replaced today.
Lard is traditionally used in cretons, but it has been widely replaced today.

To make cretons, first the pork is ground and combined with lard, onions and garlic in a sauce pan. The pork and lard is cooked slowly with the onion and garlic until the pork has lost its pink color and is beginning to cook down. The spices are combined and added to the sauce pan, followed by milk and bread crumbs. The cretons are cooked for several hours on low heat until the water is cooked out and the ingredients have a thick, uniform consistency similar to porridge.

Once cooked, the dish has to set for a minimum of four hours, though overnight is ideal. It is spooned out into a serving bowl or into individual ramekins. Cleaning up the edge of the bowl before chilling will make for a more attractive presentation when serving. The cretons should be covered with plastic wrap and then set in the refrigerator.

Good cretons should have a creamy texture similar to pate. Crispy bread, toast, and crackers all make suitable accompaniments to this dish. Though this dish is traditionally eaten at breakfast, it is also suitable served as an hors d'oeuvre or appetizer.

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