A Traditional Tourtiere

A year ago I was already making tourtiere.

You can make this traditional French Canadian meat pie any time of year, of course, but most of us prepare it for the winter holidays. No Christmas is complete without it, preferably washed down with some Champagne, an incongruous pairing of heavy and rustic with light and sophisticated.

But it works. Perhaps the bubbly is a foil for the hearty meat pie. Why question something that feels so right?

Meat pie, made mostly with pork, is equally tasty paired with merlot or cabernet sauvignon, in my book. I like to pair it with a salad, preferably one with a hint of fruit or tomato.

But I am rambling on here. The real star is the meat pie.

Some recipes call for potatoes, something my aunts, grandmother and great-grandmother never used. I skip them, too, in part top honor the memory of those wonderful women, in part because of the carbs.

Here is my family's take on tourtiere:

Three pounds ground meat: I like a combination of fresh ground pork and ground chuck
One large onion, minced
Dash nutmeg
Dash allspice
Dash freshly-ground pepper
Dash sea salt
1-2 eggs

Prepare your crust. You can use your favorite recipe. My father used to make his with lard, so I have never included it here.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown the meat and onion in a large skillet. Season with pepper and spices. Set aside; you can make this ahead and keep it refrigerated.

Pat your bottom crust into a greased pie plate. Before adding the meat, blend in an egg or two, depending upon the size of your pie. The eggs keep the pie from crumbling. I also add the salt at the last minute.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. I used an egg wash on the crust.

You may serve tourtiére warm or cold. You can even freeze it.

Here is another version of tourtiere.


I'd never heard of tourtiere until I married a Canadian! Here in Rhode Island, there are restaurants in the northern part of the state near Woonsocket, which used to have a large immigrant French Canadian community, that still serve this.
Unknown said…
In the old days, butchers always had extra pork this time of year. I atill see it once in a while, usually marked "For Meatpies."
breadchick said…
Wow! This looks like a a great late fall/early winter treat! I am definitely going to try this very soon. Thanks for the lovely comments on The Sour Dough this morning too!
Judy said…
I've never heard of tourtiere before but it looks wonderful and I love the idea of being able to freeze part of it. Living alone it's hard to make a lot of recipes that don't freeze well. Week nights my freezer is my best friend.
Unknown said…
BC, this is right up your alley!

Judy, I know what you mean about freezing - with just the two of us, we do a lot of that, especially with soups, chili and stews. Meat pie is versatile, too - I;ve had it for breakfast.
It wouldn't be the same with turkey leftovers would it. Gosh Mimi this really does look holiday and oo with champagne . . . well I do believe rustic and sophisticated belong together.
MaryRuth said…
OK Mimi, I am accepting the challenge. I WILL make tourtiere for Christmas Eve. I may even use lard because I think that is the way my Gramma made it. (She complained my mom used Crisco for hers..and that's why it didn't taste as good).
I probably haven't had this for 30 years or so...but I remember potatoes AND peas. Could that be possible?
I'll have to ask my dad.
Anyway, I'm sending a link to your post to my sis and my female cousins.
Thanks for the inspiration.
Unknown said…
Tanna, I think ground turkey would work, juts like it does in meatloaf. But pork is king!

MaryRuth, I am sure I have seen it with carrots, too, and certainly potatoes. When I was writing a food column on tourtiere, I learned that everyone has a slightly different recipe.
Anonymous said…
I hadn't heard of tourtiere myself until I had an odd craving for a meat pie a few weeks back and wanted something more exciting than chicken pot pie. I'd stumbled across a recipe for tourtiere, found a new seasonal love, and now you've got my stomach growling again...
Unknown said…
Ah, seasonal gastronomical love! Mike, I love how those special foods enhance the seasons. This pie is really satisfying! It can get a bit dry, though.
Erika W. said…
Interesting Mimi. It's like a large scale pasty- but without the vegetables. Do you ever serve it with a gravy at all? I think Andy would love this.
Unknown said…
Erika, I was thinking the same thing! The filling is very much like that of a pasty, but much spicier, less earthy.
Jann said…
Such a festive dish you have whipped up and serving it with champagne~that's right up my alley! Actually, with a small salad, this is a complete meal for hubby and myself!
Unknown said…
I agree, Jann, and that is usually how I serve eat pie - as an entire meal - so filling!
Anonymous said…
My sister, Mary Ruth, wrote a comment the other day after viewing your site and recipe for toutiere.
Our grandmother, Ethel, who was French Canadian also made a 'unique' version of the french meat pie. She used rubbed sage rather than the spices (like clove or allspice)and of course, onion, salt and pepper. Our recipe doesn't call for eggs, but instead, we make a gravy with flour and water and some of the pan drippings.
The crust is a baking powder biscuit dough, not pastry crust (but I do use shortening, not lard.
My dad says they served the toutiere on New Years Day with buttered carrots and asparagus.
Yes, they do freeze well. Some relatives make extras early in December and then take them to homebound neighbors as gifts during the holidays.
Unknown said…
Andrea, that sounds wonderful!

In our family, meat pie was served after midnight mass. The custom of a Christmas Eve celebration continued for years at my grandmother's house, long after she died. There were quiet years and years when the house filled with family and longtime family friends.
OMG reading about tourtiere and French towns made me home sick for my home town Espanola ontario canada. ty for the walk down memory lane. Bookmarked your blog.We always went to christmas eve mass ( my Mom's birthday)
Unknown said…
Thank you for the visit, Fran!
Not sure if anyone remembers but.... we use to celebrate "St Theresa" day by making pull taffy. Does anyone have a recipe? ty
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