The French Canadian province of Quebec is home to a meat pie whose origins can be traced to the “tourtes” or savory pies of the Middle Ages in France. Encased in pastry, these pies were created to make use of roasted meats that were left over from a “festin” or banquet.
Present-day tourtières or pies are made with fresh meat and are absolutely exquisite. Using a combination of ground pork, beef or veal and potato and are served as part of the Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve dinner.
While baking, the pie spices will warm up your home with holiday aromas. Whenever I prepare tourtières, I am magically transported to my past Christmases where I suddenly see the snowy streets of Montreal lined with quaint homes or shops – all sparkling with yuletide lights and décor. And then, I imagine coming home to my family to enjoy “le reveillon de Noël” to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This is our modern-day, traditional Christmas banquet.
Merry Christmas and Bon Appétit!
2 medium potatoes (will yield 1 cup mashed potato)
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ pound ground pork or veal
½ pound extra lean ground beef
½ cup finely chopped brown or white onion
Dash ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon each ground allspice and ground cinnamon
Dash each cloves and black pepper
Ready-made frozen pastry for one two-crust, 9-inch pie
1. Peel the potatoes and then cut them into one-inch cubes.
2. Immediately place potatoes in a 2-quart saucepot, covered with cold water.
3. Bring to a boil and stir in ½ teaspoon of the salt.
4. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender.
5. Drain potatoes completely and mash finely, removing all lumps.
6. Transfer the mashed potato to a glass or porcelain bowl; cover and set aside to cool.
7. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil on high setting.
8. Add meats, onion, remaining salt, spices and pepper.
9. Cook on medium-high heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, 4 to 5 minutes or until onion is translucent and meat is cooked through.
10. Drain the cooked meat to a colander set over a glass or porcelain bowl to drain; set aside.
Assemble the Pie:
1. Preheat oven to 425˚F and line a 9-inch glass or porcelain pie plate with one pâte brisée or readymade pastry sheet.
2. Using a fork, make intermittent holes in pastry-lined plate and set aside.
3. Transfer the drained meat in a 4-quart mixing bowl and stir in the mashed potato until mixture is uniform.
4. Carefully spread the meat filling evenly onto pastry-lined plate.
5. Place second pastry sheet over meat filling; trim edges and seal.
6. Using a fork, make intermittent holes over pastry top and cover edges of pastry with aluminum foil strips (this prevents burning).
7. Place pie on a rack positioned in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes.
8. Remove foil strips during last 5 minutes of baking.
Serve warm, garnished with ketchup (on the side or drizzled over each individual slice).
Wine pairing suggestion: Bordeaux (red).
Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real