Friday, December 16, 2011

Homemade Tourtière

Every year we have tourtière for Christmas Eve dinner.  It is a traditional French Canadian meat pie, and although we aren't French Canadian we have it anyway since we don't really have any traditional food for Christmas Eve.  It also helps that our whole family thinks tourtière is delicious.

Recently I got together with my friend Kim to make tourtière for the first time.  Now given that we have tourtière every year for Christmas Eve dinner you might think I already knew how to make it - not so!  In the past I have always bought tourtière from the grocery store, but I decided this year to try my hand at it and asked Kim if I could join her when she was making hers.  

Kim likes to wear a Hanukkah apron when she cooks Christmas tourtière, being the rebel she is!
Kim's mother was introduced to tourtière when they lived in Labrador back in the 1950s (you can see her blue recipe card in the photo below on the right).  Kim combines her Mother's recipe with another one that she got from a magazine years ago.  

Tourtière is a double-crusted meat pie usually made with ground pork, but may also include ground veal or even beef.  Traditional recipes include onions, seasonings, and mashed potatoes, although recipes vary from region to region and family to family.  

Kim was making a lot of tourtière as she needed it for their Christmas Eve dinner as well as mini tourtière tarts for a Christmas party.  To be uber-efficient we divided up the work and I did the peeling and chopping while Kim did the cooking and adding seasoning and mashing of potatoes.  We were a good team and got the tourtière filling ready in jig time.

Here's the recipe we used for a 9-inch double crust tourtière:

1 medium potato, cooked and mashed
1 lb ground lean pork (0.45 kg)
½ cup boiling water
1 medium onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp dried thyme
½  - 1 tsp dried sage
¼ tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
dash of garlic salt (optional)
1/2 each red and green bell pepper

1.  Combine pork, water, onion, garlic, and seasonings (down to the dashed line) in a saucepan and simmer for 25 minutes or until liquid is reduced stirring occasionally.  Can also be made with half pork and half veal.
2.  Remove from heat and if necessary pour off water but keep moist. Stir in potato, mashing to make sure the mixture is well combined.
3.  Add all the seasonings listed below the dashed line and mash again.
4.  Chill thoroughly.  Mash a few mores time.
5.  If desired add chopped red and green peppers to give a festive appearance. 
6.  Fill pastry-lined pie pan with chilled meat mixture, then place top crust over filling.  Use a knife to make air holes to allow the steam to escape.
7.  The tourtière can be wrapped well and frozen at this point (allow to thaw before baking).
8.  Bake at 450 for 10 minutes; reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes until the crust is golden (I'm not exactly sure how long it will take so I will let you know after I've baked mine) 
9.  Let rest for 5 minutes to facilitate perfect slices.   Serve hot.

Since we were making large quantities we had to put the pot outside to cool the filling down as there wasn't room in the refrigerator.  Kim told me that they always put the pot in snow to cool the filling down.  Given our mixed weather here in Toronto I was surprised that they almost always manage to find at least a little bit of snow to use.  Not this year, though, as we have had a VERY warm fall - so we just put the pot outside on a post and went out every few minutes to stir it so it would cool down.

I look like I know what I'm doing,

but I really don't.  I was flying by the seat of my pants.

And couldn't believe it turned out looking like a real Christmas tourtière.  It's all wrapped up and safely in our freezer waiting for Christmas Eve.

Do you think cooking with such a gorgeous combination of pots helped make the tourtière taste better.   I'll let you know after I eat it.

What do you serve for Christmas Eve dinner?  I'm always curious because it seems to vary much more than the traditional Christmas Dinner menu.


  1. The tourtiere looks so delicious and I love the little snowflake/stars on the top. My brother-in-law is Ontario French Canadian and his family always serves a 3 or 4 meat (not sure) tortiere that is delicious. I am more familiar with Shepherd's Pie but I have always wanted to try tortiere.

  2. Your pie looks delicious. We also have Tourtiere on xmas eve, but I don;t make it. My friend Paul is from Quebec and makes the best one around and always sends one my way at Christmas...I absolutely love it. I have found that Fortinos carries an excellent one. It is called Farmers Market beef and pork pie and they keep them by the fresh pasta's and pizza's....well worth trying if you are short on time.

  3. That looks fantastic! Thanks for the cooking lesson too. Can't wait to see how it tastes. But I think I already know. Very good! Kit

  4. I have to try this one, too, what a lovely way to spend time together with friends, too! ps. we made your three-sisters-soup again yesterday, it is so good and the children love the story!

  5. I love meat pies! Our family has a very similar recipe...I think that's a brilliant idea placing it in the 9 X 13! Delicious!

    We eat crab buns (the recipe is so yum!) and homemade clam chowder on Christmas eve. We play silly games and eat tons of baking...I always feel a bit sick. When my sis & I were little girls, we got to each light a candle in the living room and Dad would read the 'Christmas story' from the Bible. Headed to bed, we'd dream of the magic that would come with the next morning! :)

  6. Oh my gosh am I impressed...great job. Anything with a dough crust is a winner in my book! We make stuffed shells every Christmas Eve. We put them in the oven on a low heat before we leave for mass. When we get home, the house smells wonderful and the pasta is piping hot. I pop garlic bread in the oven and we're eating in 10 minutes. Happy Christmas Grace...I have so enjoyed getting to know you this past year.

  7. I am making tourtiere today! I have a few friends who wanted me to make it for them so I am doing a big batch - 9 or 10 pies. Yours looks great. I like your steam vents. Very pretty.

  8. I love your cooling platform :)
    Looks wonderful!

  9. It looks so good Grace! I am going to make a tourtiere sometime over Christmas vacation! I like tourtiere but just never think to make it! Angie xo

  10. That looks good and you do look like you know what you are doing. It is better than I could do. We are having lasagna this year at my daughter's. We always have something different each year at whoever's house we are at.

  11. I volunteer for a monthly community dinner and we are making Tourtiere for our holiday dinner this year. I came across your blog looking for inspiration and love your idea of the stars on the crust! Thanks - Happy 2012 Holidays to you.

  12. Yours is the second post I've seen this Christmas for tourtiere and I want to give it a try. I love the stars and Christmas tree cuttings into the crust. Really holiday looking.

    Have a wonderful 2013.

    FlowerLady Lorraine

  13. Looks like a lot of work! Loved your Christmas china...would you tell us the pattern and who makes it?

  14. Oh my, this sounds delicious! I will be trying it for sure. We serve Pike Place Market crab chowder with a green salad.