Showing posts with label French Canadian holiday dishes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French Canadian holiday dishes. Show all posts

04 November 2012

Time for Tourtiere (Meat Pie from Québec)



Here on the Wisconsin-Michigan border, and probably where you live, too, the pace of life changes in November. There's a speed-up and then a period of calm before the holidays descend.

Deer hunting season: The time of year when deer camps - rural property, sometimes held in the family for generations - are filled with convivial groups of fathers and sons, brothers and cousins, or just good buddies, who hunt together and - admit it - drink beer together. Or other seasonal libations.

Grocery, hardware and sporting goods stores offer plenty of specials from low prices on sausage to sales on blaze-orange gear. Even if you don't hunt, you can feel something different in the air.

Deer hunting in Wisconsin and Upper is an almost sacred tradition. It's not just for men, either; plenty of women hunt. Some have told me it's the tranquility of sitting in a deer stand that attracts them. I can believe that - and I can thoroughly understand it. Still, you won't get me out there this time of year! A walk in the neighborhood is enough.

The run up to Thanksgiving doesn't mean deer hunting, or its female equivalent, Christmas shopping, for me. I have my own traditions. I indulge in a bit of pampering, read familiar and dearly-loved books, and ponder my holiday menu. My husband doesn't hunt either, so he's home to help with holiday projects, culinary or otherwise.

This year, for the first time in many years, I'll have time for some holiday baking. I'm going to make a tourtiere, or meat pie, a French Canadian holiday classic. Grandma Annie made it every year; so did my  aunts. Somehow the meat-pie making gene bypassed my mother. Nonetheless, tourtiere is a tradition I embrace.

Grandma Annie's Basic Tourtiere Recipe

  • Three pounds ground pork
  • One large onion, minced
  • Dash nutmeg
  • Dash allspice
  • Dash freshly-ground pepper
  • Dash sea salt
  • 1-2 eggs
Prepare a pate-brisee, or use a store-bought pie crust, top and bottom.

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. Season with salt, if necessary.

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

There are many versions of tourtiere, and I expect the recipe varies from family to family. Here's one that adds carrots. And another that's a bit less basic than mine. Here's an elegant but hearty version.

Because this is a rather heavy dish, I like to serve it with a green salad, fruit salad, or cole slaw.

Here are some ideas for wine pairing.

26 November 2007

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.