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
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.