Christmas Tourtiere's 2013

Wednesday 18 December 2013

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When I was growing up it was a Christmas Tradition each year for my mother to make Tourtiere.    My father is French Canadian and the Tourtiere was a tradition in his family.  Tourtiere is a type of a meat pie which is served in French Canada during the Christmas Holidays, normally on Christmas Eve during their Reveillon celebrations, which last pretty much all night.  My father is from the Saugenay Lac St Jean region of Quebec.

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My mother was English however and staying up all night was not an option in our home.   Neither was meat pie on Christmas Day, and so we always had it on Boxing Day.  Truth be known  it was a very important part of our Christmas holiday celebrations no matter when we ate it and it was something all of us looked forward to each year.

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I do believe that there are as many recipes for Tourtiere as there are families that eat it.  Some opt to use finely chopped meat . . . pork, or veal . . . and others use ground meat, sometimes just pork, and often a combination of pork and beef.  My mother always used just beef.  I like to use pork and beef.  My ex sister in law always used chopped pork shoulder.  (She was Acadian French.)

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Some use dried bread crumbs to absorbe some of the moisture from their filling.  Some use grated raw potato cooked in with the meat.  Some grate cooked potato into the filling . . . I like to use dried potato flakes because you don't get any lumps of potato, but it thickens the filling nicely.

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All will have finely chopped onions and ground cloves.   Garlic, savory, thyme, etc. . . . these are optional.  I do use them, but my mother only used the savory along with the onion and cloves.  I also add a few chopped celery leaves and some parsley.  It changes each year.  I keep fiddling with it a bit here and a bit there in my quest for the perfect Tourtiere.  I think my sister always makes the best ones, but alas . . . she is 2,000 miles away, so mine will just have to do.  The Toddster isn't complaining!

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*Tourtiere 2013*
makes two nine inch pies
Printable Recipe

I have been working at finding the perfect tourtiere my whole life.  Tourtiere is a French Canadian meat pie which is generally served at Christmas.  I grew up with them.  My sister makes the best ones ever.  This one comes close.

For the pastry: (make this recipe twice, don't double)
200g plain flour (2 cups)
3/4 tsp table salt
75g of butter (1/3 cup)
73g of lard (1/3 cup)
5 to 6 TBS of ice water
one egg yolk beaten with a bit of water to glaze

For the filling:
1 pound extra lean ground pork
1 pound extra lean ground steak
2 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
finely chopped parsley and celery leaves to taste
1 tsp savory
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup boiling water or chicken stock
3 TBS instant potato flakes

First make the filling.   Place the meats in a large pot along with the onions, garlic, parsley, celery, savory, cloves and some seasoning.   Mix with your hands.  Add the boiling water/stock.  (It should be just barely covered)  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through and is no longer pink.  Simmer for about half an hour.  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.  Stir in the potato flakes.  Set aside to cool.

Make the pastry. (You will need to do the pastry recipe twice for the best results.)  Sift the flour into a bowl and whisk in the salt.  Cut the fats into bits and drop in.   Cut them in until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs with a pastry blender.   Add the ice water a bit at a time, using a fork to blend until you have a pastry that comes together.  Just use as much water as you need to do this.  You may need more or less, depending on the weather.    Shape the pastry into two round flat discs, wrap  in cling film and chill for half an hour.  Repeat.

Roll two of the pastry discs into a round large enough to fit into each of two nine-inch pie tins with an overhang.  Divide the cooled filling between each crust.  Roll out the two remaining discs to cover the tops with an overhang.  Wet the edges of the bottom crust and place the top crusts over each.   Seal and trim.  Cut out a steam vent in the centre of each pie.  Roll out the scraps if desired and use to decorate the tops.  Brush with the beaten egg yolk to glaze.

Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.  Place the two pies on a large baking try and bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30 to 35 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden brown and crisp on the bottom.

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I did a little one for Todd so you could see how flakey that pastry is and what the filling looks like.  He really enjoys this each year, and of course he doesn't have to watch his waistline!

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(My sister's pies this year!  Yes we both like to take photos of what we cook and eat!  It must run in the family!)

Note:  If you only want to make one pie, just cut all the ingredients for the filling in half.  Or make the full batch and freeze half of it for another time.   You can also bake this in individual pies.  My sister does and uses canning jar lids for the pans.  Works perfectly!


  1. That is a delicious looking pie.

  2. I enjoy reading about everybody's family traditions at Christmas. Your Tourtiere looks lovely!

  3. It would not be Christmas without it girls!

  4. beautiful really beautiful Marie, love it!! xxxxxx

  5. You did a beautiful job Marie..
    So festive and pretty..I make small ones for J too:)

  6. I know my husband would love this one Marie! blessings, marlene

  7. Wow, they look FABULOUS!!!

    And a couple of things: 1)I NEVER thought of using instant potato flakes. I have always used (preferably) leftover mashed potatoes. Have even been known to have to mash some in order to make the pie.
    2) What a brilliant idea it is to make them in canning jar lids! I have several "individual" pie dishes, which are really too much for one person. And I have some small tart pans, which, though pretty are too small. I think that your sister has come up with something "JUST RIGHT" if I can spin Goldilocks here! LOL Am definitely going to try this.

    Oh, and I've found that just a small bit of Worcestershire sauce adds just a pungent bite without overpowering. Of course, it HAS to have the summer savoury AND the clove, or it's just not Tourtiere, is it???

    PS: my recipe (such as it is with all the tweaking I've done over the years) came from a lovely French Canadian lady from Maine. Small world, eh??? :-)

  8. Sorry to be so longwinded here, but dear you serve yours, as we do...with beef gravy?

    And it's very bad of you to make me sit here, drooling over my computer screen!!


  9. Oh yay! I'm the woman who'd asked you about tourtiere last year. I didn't know you braised the ground meat, I'd seen others saute the onion, then the ground pork. Does the praising achieve a better filling? I'm game to try it if you think it's worthwhile. Here in New England tourtiere is served with Heinz bottled chili sauce, which has a spicier kick than ketchup, and steamed green beans or some lovely carrots cooked in orange juice, thyme and just a pinch of brown sugar.

  10. The pie looks delicious! I'm a little confused about the canning jar lids. Is it the ring with the separate lid inside? Won't the rubber seal melt? Maybe you are talking about different kind of lids. I don't think we get any other kind in Alberta.

  11. My sister uses those same canning lids Janice. She lives in Nova Scotia so the lids are the same as what you get in Alberta. I think she saw it on Pinterest or something. Anyways, it worked out really well for her!

  12. Hollis, we serve ours simply with some tomato or chili sauce. We don't serve gravy.

    MM We don't brown the meat or the onions first. Everything is simply simmered together and it ends up being quite delicious! It's not meant to have any crispy bits inside. The crust is flaky and crisp, but the filling is rich and unctuous.

  13. Hi Marie! I'm a French Canadian in Quebec (born in Montreal) and my husband is British =) This year, we are not having Tourtière(meat pie/pâté à la viande) but Tourtière du Lac St-Jean. Fun fact if you don`t know, there are always huge debates here from folks Du Lac when we call a meat pie a Tourtière because we are told that the name Tourtière only applies to the version from Lac St-Jean. They are usually very vocal about it LOL Have you ever tried some? It is so, SO good but much more work!

    Have you ever tried Jehane Benoit's (a French Canadian cook)version? I can't count how many different versions of tourtière I have tried in my life but I think that hers gives the best results. Not too fat, holds itself together neatly, doesn't taste like "cretons" (another French Canadian staple).
    If you haven't tried her version and what to give it a go someday, I can give you the version from her cooking encyclopedia. Versions of her recipe online are never right, there are ingredients missing or substituted.


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  15. That would be great Je Suis Moi! I would love to have her original recipe. I remember watching her cooking segments on Take Thirty when I was a girl. She was like the Julia Child of Canada! So good.

    I know my relatives make another meat pie which uses rabbit, moose and deer meat along with potatoes and onion. They soak the meat, potatoes and onion overnight in salt water and then drain it the next day and bake it in the oven in a pastry. It makes a really big pie. I love that as well, although I use pork, chicken and beef in mine. E-mail me! mariealicejoan at aol dot com

  16. The Julia Child of Canada! Exactly! LOL I used to watch her on Télé-Québec when I was a girl - I have been trying to remember the name of that show for years and can't find a trace of it anywhere. There were always two kids with her, a boy and a girl, if I remember correctly and she taught them recipes. Good times =)

    I think Tourtière du Lac St-Jean is often made with pork, chicken and beef these days, if fact, I don`t know if I have tried it any other way. Maybe when I was very young.

    I'll write out the recipe for you and send it soon.

    P.S. Forgot to say that I LOVE how you decorated your tourtière! Absolutely lovely!

  17. This looks so yummy! I am going to try this for sure!!!!
    Merry Christmas!

  18. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we do Sandy!

  19. In my oven now. I used only ground pork due to sister not eating beef. I will let u know how it turns out.

  20. I do so hope that you enjoy it! I have made it with all pork before and thought it was nice that way too.

  21. Can't wait to try your recipe.
    Saw many on pinterest and in the Canadian living cookbook
    Love the look of yours so will try it!!

  22. I hope that you like it Jam. I use the potato flakes because I don't like lumps in mine and the potato flakes give it the right consistency! Happy Christmas!

  23. I am almost year late on this post however, I am very new to blog. This pie has been a tradition in my house as part of my Christmas Eve menu. Now that t am alone I still want to continue this practice and it's too much food. It's just not a Canadian Christmas without it. The idea of the mini versions gave me a great idea for this year and will give a try for this year. Also, I have never made it from scratch. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. You are right when you say it wouldn't be Christmas without it Pat! You're very welcome! Mini ones are the answer when you are a very small family! xoxo


    1. I like tomato Ketchup with mine Anonymous.


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