French Canadian Cretons is a traditional French Canadian breakfast meat spread. Although the appearance of the spread may not look appealing, the taste is something else. This recipe for Cretons is a very easy recipe to make and makes enough for a small crowd or for freezing for later use.
All it took was a trip back to Quebec City to remind me of this tasty dish from my childhood. When we returned home, I got to work looking for the recipe I remembered growing up. The one that was served at breakfast alongside my grandmother’s famous Mustard Pickles.
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to consumers. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these products because of their quality, not because of the commission we may receive from purchases.
What are Cretons?
If you grew up anywhere other than Quebec or the Ottawa area, you may not know what this dish is. Although it is starting to gain popularity in other regions.
Creton dates back years, to when early French settlers came to Canada in the 17th century. The dish was created because of the simplicity of the recipe and its affordability. It was a dish that could be served through the cold winter months in Canada.
The recipe varies from family to family and many recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. Some ingredients may have changed over the years to accommodate ingredient availability or dietary needs.
But the recipes are all similar when it comes to the main ingredients.
What Ingredients Are in French Canadian Cretons?
The main ingredient is lean ground pork. This is the only meat I have ever made this recipe with but I have heard of recipes using ground chicken or turkey, offering a lighter dish. But I grew up on this recipe that has been passed down to me, so pork is the only meat I have used.
There is also onion and garlic in this recipe. These ingredients are newer additions to the recipes. Traditionally, cretons did not have garlic and onions, but they make a nice addition and really add to the flavour.
Cinnamon, cloves, and all-spice are used to flavour the recipe.
Cream or milk is used to add moisture to the meat so it is dry. Half and half (10%) cream is our go-to but whole milk or 2% can also be used. I once made this with skim milk and it did not turn out as well. It was very runny, so I do recommend using nothing less than 2% milk.
Breadcrumbs are what hold this meat spread together. Unseasoned breadcrumbs are best because there are so many spices in this dish that are meant to be the focus.
I also add lard to the meat as it is cooking. The fat in the lard helps to bind everything together, but it is optional.
What Does Cretons Taste Like?
Cretons are a rich, savory meat dish that combines pork with spices and milk. It has a thick, creamy texture with very small pieces of pork mixed into the spread.
Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg are the spices that give cretons their flavour along with onions and garlic. This meat spread has a unique savory flavour that is very popular in the province of Quebec.
It is fairly simple to make cretons. It takes one pan or pot to make this recipe. I like to use an enameled cast iron pot to make these because it distributes the heat evenly for better cooking.
The recipe does take a little time to prepare and cook, but the time is worth it. Start to finish takes about 90 minutes. It then takes a few hours to cool the cretons before serving. Waiting is the hardest part of this recipe.
This is a recipe I like to double and have on hand in the freezer.
How to Serve Cretons
Typically Cretons are served cold with breakfast as a side dish with eggs and bacon or sausage and toast. Try it with Eggs In A Hole.
Some other ideas:
- On crackers. Some like to add a little mustard to cretons and crackers
- On toasted French bread or slices of baguette
- As a pate for a Charcuterie Board
- Spread on a sandwich with deli meat, lettuce, tomato, and pickles.
- Spread it on a bagel, and add a fried egg and a couple of slices of bacon to make a breakfast sandwich.
How To Store Cretons
This dish is best served cold so it should be kept in the fridge until ready to serve. Keep in a closed container for up to three days in the fridge.
Cretons can also be frozen for later. Either in a large container or in smaller containers for single portions. Cretons will last in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
Need the ingredients to make this recipe? Why not try Voilà and have it delivered or order for curbside pick up?
French Canadian Cretons
- 1 pound lean ground pork
- 2 Tbsp lard
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp all-spice
- ¾ cup 10% cream or whole milk
- ⅓ cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Brown ground pork with the lard in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan, over medium heat, breaking up pork as it cooks, so it resembles crumbs
- Add onion and garlic, cook until translucent.
- Stir in cloves, cinnamon and all-spice.
- Reduce heat to low, add milk and breadcrumbs, stirring to combine.
- Stir in salt and pepper.
- Simmer over low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat once the mixture has thickened and is spreadable.
- Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Store in mason jars or covered containers in the fridge until completely cooled.
- Serve cold.