(French Canadian pork pie)
When the French migrated to the wilderness of Quebec, they brought with them their favorite recipes from home. Tourtière was one of those recipes. These savory meat pies are traditionally served at Christmastime accompanied by homemade tomato ketchup and pickled beets. There is no one true recipe. Each family has its own version passed down over time.
6 to 8 servings
- Heat the oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until cooked through and just starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the pork and saute, breaking it up, until it is cooked through.
- Drain off any excess fat and add the stock or water, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is mostly evaporated but the meat is still moist, around 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the breadcrumbs and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a double-crust pastry or pie crust according to your favorite recipe and place the bottom crust in a 9-inch pie plate or springform pan.
- Add the pork mixture to the bottom crust. Cover with the top crust, seal and crimp with your fingers. Cut a hole about the size of your finger in the middle of the top crust. Roll a piece of aluminum foil into a tube around your finger and stick it in the hole to make a vent. Brush the crust with an egg beaten with a little milk.
- Place the tourtière in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- Meats: Old-time tourtières were often made with game meats like rabbit, duck or venison. These days pork is most common, although many use a mixture of pork, veal and beef. Along the Atlantic coast, salmon or seafood tourtières are common. Chicken tourtière isn't unheard of.
- Ground or Cubed: The meat for tourtière can be ground or cut into cubes. If using cubed meat, you will need to simmer it longer, adding stock or water as needed, until the meat is tender.
- Vegetables: A variety of vegetables are often added to stretch the filling. Try potatoes, celery, carrots, or other root vegetables.
- Seasoning: Some tourtières have no seasoning beyond salt and pepper. Others add thyme or sage. Still others, especially at Christmastime, have spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.
- Tourtière du Lac-Saint-Jean, or Cipâte: Use a mixture of cubed meat (beef, chicken, pork, veal, game, salt pork). Toss the meat with some seasonings (see above). Cube some potatoes and chop some onions. Alternate layers of meat and vegetables a deep casserole. Add chicken broth to just cover the ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Preheat oven to 300°F. Cover the casserole with a pastry crust and cut slits in it. Gently cover the crust with aluminum foil and bake 3 hours. Remove the foil and bake for another hour until the crust is golden brown.