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Tourtiere, a Quebec specialty - Meat Pie (recipe)

All this talk about ground pork and about chicken stock got me to bring out my favorite tourtiere recipe, for which I've made the pie dough and will finish cooking the whole thing tonight. I doubled the recipe because it 'disappears' fast! In case anyone else wants to try it, here it is:

Tourtiere
Make dough for double crust pie, chill, wrapped, for 1 hour
Filling:
1 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lb. ground pork
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup chicken stock (I use homemade)
1/2 teasp. salt
1/2 teasp. thyme
1/4 teasp. ground allspice
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons fresh bread crumbs (I use dry)

In a saucepan cook onion & celery in butter over mod. heat, stirring frequently, for 4 mins. Add garlic and cook the mix for 2 mins. Add the pork and cook stirring until pork changes color. Add the chicken stock, the thyme, salt, allspice and bay leaf and simmer the mixture, covered, for 30 mins. Let it cool and stir in breadcrumbs.

Roll ball of dough into 9-inch round,fit it into a 7-inch pie plate & spoon pork mixture into it. Roll smaller ball of dought into 7.5 inch round and lay on top of the filling. Press edges together to seal pie and trim excess dough. Make a 1/2 inch X in the center, brush dought with egg glaze (1 egg, beaten with 2 Tablesp. cream) and bake the tourtiere in the lower third of a preheated oven (425 degrees F) for 10 mins. Reduce heat to moderately hot (375 degrees F), transfer the tourtiere to the middle of the oven and bake it for 25 mins. more, or until crust is golden.

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  1. Thanks for the recipe. My mother used to make this sometimes, learned fromn her French-Canadian mother. We used to call it "tout-care" pie, hah!

    1. Thanks for the memories. Tortiere was one of the first things I ever made (in high school) and the recipe came from watching Graham Kerr's show, the Galloping Gourmet. I was watching this in Canada before I had even heard of Julia Child. Kerr's recipe used water instead of stock or wine but poured in out of a wine bottle to keep up appearances.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gourmaniac

        There are many traditional variations on tourtière, using game meats, such as la tourtière du Saguenay (ou du Lac-Saint-Jean), made of diced (not minced) meats and diced potatoes, with onions of course. And nowadays there are many tourtières featuring meats other than pork, for non-pork eaters or people who want a lighter meal.

        There are also surprisingly successful vegetarian tourtières based on millet, seitan, or "fake meats" like the popular Yves Veggie line. Something I often serve as a veggie option, for a winter meal.

      2. Thanks for that recipe... Is there a traditional way to serve it? Hot or cold? Is there anything usually served with it?

        25 Replies
        1. re: gido

          My in-laws (French Canadians) eat it with ketchup. go figure.

          1. re: manya7

            Actual ketchup or chow-chow, aka green tomato "ketchup"? We've always used the latter, and I assumed it was the traditional tourtière condiment.

            1. re: piccola

              French Canadian here. We always ate it with Heinz ketchup but I could easily see "Ketchup maison" (homemade ketchup) being used.

              We used to eat it hot.

              1. re: CaptCrunch

                Where are you from, CaptCrunch? I don't know anyone in Québec who eats it with Heinz-type ketchup, but obviously I know a tiny subset of the Québec population and French-speakers elsewhere in Canada. My francophone friends in Ottawa use homemade-type chowchows and such as well.

                1. re: lagatta

                  I'm from Montreal, originally from the south shore.

                  We ate paté chinois with ketchup too and highlighner fishsticks with a mix of mayo and ketchup. Mind you, I was a kid in the 80s so this wasn't the glamour years for cooking.

                  My mother would make the weekday Tourtière. It would be a pretty thin affair, made mostly from ground pork if I remember correctly and would most probably come from an adaptation of a recipe in the Jehane Benoit cookbook (she was our Julia Child and my mother's generation used that big fat book often... the pages were bent and the pages corrected from decades of use).

                  The Christmas holidays would be something else however and we'd always have an aunt or another member of the family whip up their "special" Tourtière recipe.

                  We didn't use homemade ketchup at home. My memories of homemade ketchup are the same category as fruitcake. The uncle would give a "Lions club fruitcake" and the aunt (always the one with the most time on her hands) would distribute her "homemade ketchup", usually pretending she got the recipe from a talking holy burning bush..

                  1. re: CaptCrunch

                    Same here on the different styles for the different time of year. A normal tourtiere the rest of the year would be ground pork/beef combo, but the Christmas holiday tourtiere was actually made from a combination of shredded roast pork and beef. Totally different.

                    And we used either Heinz-style or homemade.

                    1. re: CaptCrunch

                      Our Jehane Benoit book is cherished. My mother-in-law made many meals from that book. French Canadian cooking is very good.

              2. re: manya7

                My Grandmother served it with her homemade chili sauce (not chow-chow), so sort of a vinegary ketchup. It cuts the richness of the tortiere (her recipe had ground veal, pork and beef - lard crust - and one of these days I'll dig it up and make it). If I'm eating commercial frozen tortiere and I don't have chili sauce I will eat a dill pickle with it.

                1. re: julesrules

                  I could totally see it with a good spicy/vinegary condiment, like those pickled hot peppers. Even the veggie version (which is what I eat).

                  Something to look forward to at Xmas...

                2. re: manya7

                  We have always had it with good gravy and crispy fresh frites, but we're from NY State. Only 15 minutes to the Quebec border, but frites, gravy and peas always seem perfect. Our favorite for Christmas Eve.

                  1. re: Candy

                    Candy, I like your idea of frites and a good rich gravy plus we LOVE peas in this house! I'll make it (again) Wednesday as that's my day to buy meat at the market.
                    I'll be buying Rhubarb too so I can make the rhubarb ketchup from

                    http://afterthemarket.wordpress.com/2

                    1. re: iL Divo

                      If you are a pea-loving household, have you tried this Italian way---cooked peas mixed half-and-half with cooked rice and served with a lot of grated Parmesan cheese?

                      1. re: Querencia

                        no I haven't and I'm way late at seeing this, sorry.
                        so cook peas drain add 1/2&1/2, cook rice, mix the two, lots of parm cheese. that could be my entire meal. TFS

                  2. re: manya7

                    Traditionally it's *ketchup maison*, homemade ketchup that bares little resemblance to American store-bought ketchups like Heinz's. It comes in a jar; is loose, chunky and watery (similar to salsa); sweet; vinegary; and redolent of sweet spices.

                  3. re: gido

                    lagatta, great that you reminded me of the vegetarian tourtieres too. I've got to look up some recipes for that - do you have any that you like/use, by chance?
                    gido, It's served so many ways. You could have it as part of a brunch for example, with baked beans, ham etc. Here it's often served along with other offerings at holiday turkey dinners. I'd serve it warm, keeping the crust a nice texture (in other words I'd avoid heating it in a microwave). Myself, I'd eat it with any(or all) of these: baked beans, mashed potatoes, &/or a salad if I'm eating it at lunch. And I do make it at Christmas, to serve along with roast turkey. At times, I've made several & have frozen a couple of them, ready for the final baking another day; a great time saver!

                    1. re: morebubbles

                      I'll have to remember exactly what I put in the veg tourtière. I've had luck using some Yves fake ground meat, but I also add vegetables as I don't like the fake meat taste to dominate. Mushrooms, sautéed in red wine, are a nice touch. Onions are mandatory. Personally, I do like to bind tourtière with a bit of grated or mashed potato (or other root vegetable), but that is a bone of contention among tourtière makers.

                      One that was very successful featured some St-Ambroise oatmeal stout as the liquid...

                      For meat eaters, I make a lovely one from venison. You do have to add a bit of fattier meat, or some other fat or oil,

                      As for the ketchup, I think it depends on the family, the region, the mileu. Tourtière "ketchup" for me is a kind of relish, made from tomato or various fruits - and typically best bought at autumnal church bazaars.

                      1. re: lagatta

                        hi, my family is from the three rivers area and we used to eat what my grandmother (and everybody else in watertown, ct) called PUTSINS....they are dumplings with ground meat, cinnimon, nutmeg, and cloves...in a great gravy made from the broth of many different meats boiling for hours together.....they are the best....but i can't find anything about them on the internet.......have you heard of them?

                        1. re: redsoxmama

                          Your description makes me think of "ragout de boulettes", a stew of meatballs made in a thick pork gravy, but the word "putsin" with the word "dumpling" makes me think of "poutine râpée", an Acadian recipe made of ground meat stuffed potato dumplings. Does any of those two ring a bell?

                          1. re: redsoxmama

                            I know that "soon" I want to do a gravy like you described.
                            a pot on the stove for a week being added to with dinner vegs and various meat scraps/bones + liquid day by day simmering away slowly. at the end of the week full of flavor.

                            And I do remember those little bundles of goodness-heard about them somewhere, online, magazine, TV...can't remember.

                          2. re: lagatta

                            i find the whole relish on tortiere wierd...but a vegetarian version...i did side by each my pork based and with yves ground round...did pretty much everything the same...the end of the day yves was chewy...so i just took two thirds of it ...minced it in my blender stirred in the last third...and it was so close to a "traditional" meat pie

                        2. re: gido

                          Regular ketchup is traditional and you absolutely have to eat pickled beets with tourtière !

                          1. re: gido

                            Mémé always served it (after midnight Mass on Chrismas eve) at room temperature or warmed, with fresh cranberry sauce and dill pickles. I see after looking at other replies that these are apparently not the usual accompaniments. :-) On the other hand, the theme in general seems to be something vinegary or tart to cut the richness of the pie.

                            1. re: alyciamarie

                              Oh, I'm glad you started this up again in time for ""Les Fêtes". Any new recipes you've found?

                              1. re: lagatta

                                When the wife makes a batch (usually about 20 pies at holiday time), I'll shanghai two before baking. I add cayenne to one, making a "hot" pie and cretons seasonings to another, a cretons pie. Not quite traditional, but very tasty indeed.

                            2. re: gido

                              Yes, you serve it hot and put ketchup on in or you can serve it with gravy on top. But mostly Ketchup. And it can be made with 1/3 pork and 2/3 ground beef. You can also add crused garlic to it. Very good.

                            3. I just busted out my families recipie with a few small twists. I added 30% ground turkey to the ground pork. It makes it a little lighter. I also used water and 2 tablespoons of salted butter instead of stock. I also add cinimmon, nutmeg and sage to the mix. The extra herbs and spices really kick up the flavor a little. The sage is a hint from my french relatives.

                              Also I made it in tart sized pans so that each one is a nice individual size. They are easy to keep and easy to reheat this way.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jdean1

                                I had tourtiere in the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou on Cape Breton Island a few weeks ago. It had a nice, allspice flavor to it.

                              2. My grandmother used to make this (she lived in central Maine and called it "toochie" pie) and would add about a cup of mashed potatoes to it. It's great in the winter- one of my favorites!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: kelseyfrost

                                  Yup, my Maine family calls it "toochie" too.

                                  We use 3/4 lb. lean ground pork, 3/4 lb. lean ground round, and allspice -- but no other spices. No garlic. I was taught to boil the meat and one very finely chopped onion with 1/2 c. water in a pot for about 2 hours, until the meat is, well, grey. Boil 2 potatoes, peeled and diced, separately. When they're soft, skim the fat off the meat mixture, add the potatoes, and mash it all together with a potato masher. Add salt and allspice, some pepper, then spread the mixture in a crust-lined plate, add top crust, brush with egg wash, and bake for about 20-25 mins. until golden.

                                  Even better the next day. I do like it cold and with ketchup.

                                  1. re: lobsterfest

                                    Funny how you say 'until the meat is, well, grey.'
                                    My mother-in-law frequently complained how my wife's meat pie (we don't call it 'tortiere') was pinkish. "The meat's not cooked"
                                    "But ma, it boiled for 2 hours, how can't it be cooked?"
                                    "I don't know, but it ain't cooked..."
                                    I paid more attention to her technique - she was adding salt to the pork/water mix immediately, the pork was still raw and the water cold. In the time it took to come to a boil, the ground pork had been slightly cured by the salt, retaining a pinkish color.

                                    Afterwards, she only salted at the end of the cooking process. Mother-in-law was happy, no longer eating 'raw' meat pies. HAHA
                                    She needed that 'greyness', simple as that.

                                    1. re: porker

                                      Yeah till the meat is grey or gray,,,my family tradional tortiere is pork water salt and cloves.....no potato no veggies just very simple,,,but the colour is wierdly the key

                                    2. re: lobsterfest

                                      Yup... my family is from Quebec and this is exactly how I remember my aunt making it, and how I make it now too!! She left the potatoes cubed in the pie though,and so of course since this is how I first had it when I was young, this is how I prefer it now. We would have it hot for dinner with some gravy (although it didn't need it, IMO), and then cold with ketchup in the morning with our coffee. I MUST make it again this year, per request of my younger son who's asked me to write out the recipe for his wife. And the tradition goes on... (smile)