Many French Canadians eat tourtière during the Christmas season, a traditional spiced meat pie with a flaky crust.
Tourtière recipes vary from region to region. In Montreal, people tend to make it with ground beef and pork. Out in the Gaspe, it’s usually a hearty seafood pie made with salmon, cooked potatoes and sauteed onions. Up on the Lac Saint Jean region, they make it with chunks of meat, including wild game whenever they can get it.
You can always but your tourtière – but why not make your own this year? It’s not difficult, it’s tastier than anything you buy, and people will “oohh” and “ahhh” at your cleverness.
Classic French Canadian Tourtière
Of all the versions of tourtière in Quebec, this is my favourite. It’s a simple, fragrant meat pie, thickened with potatoes, and baked until golden brown. This recipe makes two 9″ meat pies, or one giant deep dish pie.
Prepare 3-4 hours ahead of baking time
- 11/2 pounds ground pork or veal
- 11/2 pounds ground beef
- 2-3 onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 6 potatoes, cooked them mashed
- 1-2 cups beef or vegetable broth (or just water)
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- Salt and pepper to taste
Pie Crust Ingredients
Makes 2 covered pies or 4 single pies
- 5 cups flour (635 grams)
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 2 ½ cups shortening (320 grams)
- 1 egg
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 tbsp. white vinegar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon cold milk
Start by making the tourtiere filling. Heat large skillet, add oil, then saute chopped onions for about 10 minutes on medium heat, until onions are soft and golden.
Mix the ground pork and beef together in a bowl with your hands. Add the fried onions, then return the meat and onions to the fry pan and cook for another 10 minutes, chopping up the meat as it cooks.
Add the broth, mashed potatoes and spices to the meat, mix well, then cook over medium-low heat with the lid ajar, for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat. Taste the meat mixture and add more salt, pepper or spices if needed. Cool in the fridge for about 2 hours, until completely chilled.
Making Pie Crusts
Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add room temperature shortening. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture until rough crumbs.
Beat egg, water, and vinegar together, then pour over flour mixture. Stir mixture together with a fork until moistened. Divide dough into four equal size balls, roughly 275 gm each.
Roll out out one of the 275 gram balls of dough, and put it in the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Spoon in half of the meat filling, patting it down lightly to compress it a bit. Brush the pie rim with water and place the second circle of dough on top, pressing the edges together to seal. Trim edges and decorate the top.
Repeat to make the second pie.
The egg wash will give your tourtière a golden glow, so don’t be tempted to skip this step. Beat the egg and milk together and brush the mixture over the top of the crust and around the edges.
Cut steam vents on top of both pies to let moisture escape.
With the rack in the bottom third of the oven, bake at 375F for about 50 minutes or until the pies are golden brown.
Yield: Makes 2 meat pies