Easy tourtière, a traditional meat pie

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Family traditions are especially important at Christmas. Tourtière is one of them. Vinny just wouldn’t feel right without this savory meat pie for the holidays.

History  People have been making tourtière in Canada ever since the French first settled on the Saint Lawrence river over 300 years ago. Some believe the pie is named after the passenger pigeon, which the French called “tourtes.” The meat from these birds was cooked into the original pies. Although pigeons are not related to blackbirds, the result was “fit for a king.”

passenger pigeon

Passenger pigeons were so popular as a food source that they were hunted to extinction by the end of the 1800s.

Recipe notes There are many ways to make a tourtière. Original recipes depended on what foods were available in the area. Pork and beef are used most often today. But family recipes passed down through the years could contain poultry and of course wild birds and other game. In my version this year I used some roasted rabbit meat finely chopped, along with ground pork.

The grated potato is essential to the thick juicy goodness of the pie. The carrot provides further nutrition and color, as well as a little sweetness.

The method is fail-proof and dead easy, especially if you have an electric grater. Kids can make it themselves if they can safely grate the potato and carrot.

If you are good at making pastry and have the time, you can make your own pie shells. Vinny thinks of the pastry only as a dish for the meat filling, so the store-bought shells suit him fine. Besides, they turn out flakier than his own homemade fiascos.

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Vinny’s easy tourtière
A savory meat pie fit for a king
Serves 4-6 (the recipe can easily be doubled to serve 8-12)

  • two frozen prepared pie shells (I use 1 deep-dish and one regular shell)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (or canola, if you prefer)
  • 1 pound lean ground pork (or pork plus any mixture of ground meat)
  • 1 onion, diced (about 125 grams/4.5 ounces)
  • 1 medium potato, grated (about 125 grams/4.5 ounces)
  • 1 large carrot, grated (about 125 grams/4.5 ounces)
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt (sea salt is best)
  • ½ teaspoon each savory, sage, & cloves
  • ½ cup water (optional)
Elie's tourtiere filling

Easy one-pot filling.

A few simple tools

  • medium-sized pot
  • chopping knife
  • grater or food processor
  • stirring spoon
  • measuring cups
  • cookie sheet
  • oven gloves
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Easy enough that kids can make it.

  1. Set the oven to 400°F.
  2. Set the pie shells out to thaw.
  3. Measure the ingredients and take out your equipment.
  4. Heat the fat on medium-high on the stove top until it sizzles.
  5. Add the onion and stir fry until it starts to brown.
  6. Add the garlic and stir for a minute.
  7. Add the ground meat, and stir fry until it starts to turn brown.
  8. Add the veggies, stir until the whole mixture sizzles, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.
  9. Stir every 5 minutes or so. Add water if the mixture starts to stick to the bottom.
  10. Pour the cooked mixture evenly into the (deep-dish) pie shells.
  11. Place the second pie shell right side up on top of the filled pie. Press the rim downward gently and pinch the edges of the crust together to seal. Trim the edge. Cut a slit in top.
  12. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes.
  13. Let the pie cool for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with ketchup, tomato salsa, or maple syrup. Or wrap in foil when cool and store in the freezer. To reheat, place in oven heated to 375C for 45 minutes from frozen or 30 minutes from room temperature.

 

Le Crystal, boutique hotel in Montreal

Give this a whirl and when you see how good tourtière is, pack a few away in your freezer to serve over the Christmas holidays.

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