Tourtière is a meat pie originating from Quebec, usually made with finely diced pork, veal or beef. Wild game is often added to enhance the taste of the pie. A traditional part of the Christmas réveillon and New Year’s Eve meal in Quebec, it is also sold in grocery stores across Canada all year long.
Tourtière is not exclusive to Quebec. It is a traditional French-Canadian dish served by generations of French-Canadian families throughout Canada and the bordering areas of the United States. In the New England region of the U.S., especially in Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts (e.g., Chicopee and Attleboro), late 19th and early 20th century immigrants from Quebec introduced the dish.
There is no one correct filling; the meat depends on what is regionally available. In coastal areas, fish such as salmon is commonly used, whereas pork, beef, rabbit and game are often included inland. The name derives from the vessel in which it was originally cooked, a tourtière.
In Manitoba, Tourtière is an integral part of holiday-time meals for French Canadians in St. Boniface, as well as in Manitoba’s rural Francophone areas. Browned meat is seasoned with varying combinations of savory, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, celery salt, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Pies are served with mustards and various types of relishes.
My version of this delicious meat pie definitely leans heavily to the Manitoba version of the recipe – I hope you enjoy it, Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
Ingredients for the dough
4 cups flour
16 tablespoons butter, soft
1 teaspoon of salt
2 egg yolks
½ cup water
3 tablespoons summer savory
1 beaten egg yolk to brush dough
Ingredients for the meat stuffing
1 lb beef, ground
¼ lb venison, ground (if unavailable, use the more traditional ground veal)
¼ lb bacon, ground
½ lb pork, ground
3 onions, minced or grated
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 potatoes, grated
2 bay leaves
½ cinnamon stick
3 ½ cups of homemade or low-salt chicken broth plus additional if needed
1 tablespoon of dried summer savory
½ teaspoon of allspice
¾ teaspoon powdered or finely-minced rosemary
1 celery stalk, minced
½ cup minced celery leaves
½ teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon mustard powder
5 whole black peppercorns plus freshly ground black pepper
5 sprigs thyme
celery salt to taste
1 ½ tablespoons brandy (optional)
⅓ cup soft bread crumbs
Sift the flour.
Cut the butter into small hazelnut-size pieces and place on the flour with the salt and summer savory.
Incorporate flour to butter by kneading quickly with the fingertips.
Dig a well in the middle of the flour. Dilute the egg yolks with water. Combine with flour gradually.
Roughly form a ball.
Work the dough with the palm of the hand by pushing and crushing on the worktop. Form a ball. Wrap in a clean cloth.
Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight, so that it is easier to roll.
In a large pot, sauté the bacon 1-2 minutes over medium heat.
Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Add garlic and minced celery, sauté 1 minute.
Add all the remaining ingredients and mix gently.
Season with celery salt and pepper.
Cook covered over medium / high heat until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Put the meat mixture into a baking dish and bake 20-30 minutes, stirring regularly.
Remove the bay leaves, whole peppercorns, cinnamon stick, thyme and cloves. Stir in bread crumbs. Allow to cool.
Assembly of the tourtière:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Grease an 8-inch diameter cake or pie pan.
On a floured surface, roll the dough into two unequal discs of about 11 inches and 9 inches in diameter.
Place the dough in the pan so that the dough overflows slightly.
Place the stuffing into the pie shell. Cover with the second disc of dough.
Attach the pie circles with a little water, pinching the edges or crushing them with the back of a fork.
Create a little chimney through the center of the pie shell to slide a small roll of parchment paper.
Brush the dough with egg yolk.
Bake 20 minutes at 450 degrees.
Lower the thermostat to 350 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes.
Wait 15 minutes before serving. Serve with several different mustards, chili sauce or spicy ketchup and various types of relishes.