Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ma's famous tourtiere

Now this recipe is really famous! My mother Gisele (Brossoit) Dupuis has always been a great cook and tourtiere, or French Canadian meat pie, has always been one of my favourites of the things she makes. So this year on Christmas Eve she supervised us in the ritual pie-making while we recorded the process for posterity. My son Daniel took the notes as well as doing most of the work on the pastry. I did most of the work on the filling. It was a great family moment to be treasured.

Makes two pies


3/4 lb ground veal
3/4 lb ground pork
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, chopped finely
1/2 large carrot, diced finely
1 stalk celery, diced finely
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp savory
1/2 tsp sage
1 tblsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 cup bread crumbs *or* 3/4 cup mashed potatoes

1. Saute vegetables until a little soft, starting with carrots, then celery, then onions & garlic

2. Start browning the meat with the vegetables. Start with the pork, then add the veal, then the beef. Once the meat is browned and everything is well combined, add the savory and sage.

3. While browning, make sure the mixture doesn't get too dry and crumbly. You can add some bread crumbs or mashed potatoes at this point to act as a binder.

4. Let cool completely before putting in crust.

Crust & final prep

1 lb vegetable shortening (ie. Crisco)
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (approx) of ice water
egg wash (1 egg beaten with a splash of water)

1. In a large bowl, using a pastry cutter, gradually add the shortening to the flour & salt about an eighth at a time.

2. Make a well in the middle and slowly add the water, mixing quickly with a spoon.

3. Using your hands, combine & knead the dough.

4. Roll out the dough into the tops and bottoms.

5. Put the bottoms in 9" pie plates, add 1/2 the filling to each, to the top of the plate.

6. Carefully put the tops on the pies & trim excess. Using a sharp knife, cut some vents in the pies for steam to escape.

7. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush egg wash on the tops. This will help them get a nice golden brown.

8. Put the pies into a 450 degree oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 350. Bake for 50 minutes or so, until the pies are a golden brown.

As usual, it was great, a true recipe to savour as part of our family heritage. The tortieres freeze extremely well, so making one for now and one for later is a great way to take advantage of the two pies this recipe makes.

You'll also have a fair bit of pastry left over. What we did was make a bunch of pinwheels -- flatten out a one inch ball of pastry & spread 2 tblsp of a brown sugar/pinch-of-cinnamon mixture and roll them up into a cigar-shaped roll. We ended up with about 10, my son Sam doing most of the work here. Put them in a few pie plates and egg wash them. Put them in with the pies -- they take about 25-30 minutes to get golden brown.

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