There were a couple things I remember about Christmas at my Grandma’s and I associated those with French-Canadian traditional food. My grandparents spent many years as snowbirds (Canadians who live in the southern states during winter-Part time Americans), so I don’t remember too many Christmas dinners there. One thing that left an impression was tourtiere. Tourtiere is a meat pie made with pork and beef or veal, and as I later found out, it’s traditionally eaten for réveillon (big dinners on Christmas Eve and/or New Years Eve).
It always seemed a mystery and I had this belief that it was a lot more complex to make than it was. That was until I saw Laura Caulder do a version of it on her show. It was an awakening of sorts to realize that the hard part was the crust not the filling. Well as I was a good procrastinator I put it off year after year, until my wife’s dad invited us over for his annual tourtiere production (15-20 pies). I was now more motivated to try my own.
This year I stopped procrastinating and even researched how to make the best crust. I did try to make a crust and the first one didn’t work, I will try again, but since I was in a bit of a time crunch I bought pre-made dough at the store that worked just as good. Nowadays, you can find store bought dough, or even prepared crusts that are almost as good as homemade, and a lot less hassle. If you are short on time or just don’t want the bother it is perfectly fine to buy it.
Recipes for tourtiere vary from family to family, and well I always add my own touch to recipes. Here goes the start of the Hurley tourtiere recipe:
Makes 3 pies:
1 Kg(2 1/5 lbs) ground pork, veal and beef. *In Montreal they sell it mixed together-but you may have to buy separately. If you buy it separate be sure there is a bit more beef than pork.
2 Cups potatoes diced
1 cup fine to coarse breadcrumbs (I used panko-but any unseasoned ones would work)
4 cups Chicken stock
1 onion finely diced
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp Olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced
¼ tsp smoked paprika ( I have a good Hungarian paprika that I use)
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp sage
Pinch of cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat large pot with olive oil on Medium heat. Soften onions until translucent, and then add garlic, bay leaves and spices. Heat for no more that 20 seconds before adding stock so that garlic doesn’t burn. Add potatoes and bring to a boil, then remove bay leaves and add uncooked meat to stock. Simmer for 20 minutes (or until meat is no longer pink) skimming fat as it cooks. Stir in breadcrumbs and turn off the heat. Cool and let sit in fridge overnight before using.
If using uncooked pie dough:
Roll to a thickness of 2mm (1/16th inch) a bottom and top for 3 pie pans. And cook at 190 C (375 F) for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Using Precooked pie crust:
Follow directions on package.
This is a traditional dish but it doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy this dish, could be just to try making something new. What kind of traditional food did you make this year? Let me know in the comments section.