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Tourtiere du Lac St Jean


My father grew up in the Saguenay/Lac St Jean region of Quebec in a town near Chicoutami called Bagotville. It is now called Ville de la Baie.  
Situated on the banks of the Baie des Ha! Ha!, it is an area of great beauty. Growing up we visited the area several times to visit my Grandmaman and our French Aunt's, Uncles and cousins. We could not speak French, and they could not speak English, but we all spoke the language of love.

I remember my grandmother making this Toutiere for us once when we visited. It was delicious, and is very regional, differing a great deal from the other traditional tourtiere I shared with you last week. 

Tourtiere du Lac St Jean 

This one is composed of small cubes of meat, poatoes and onions in a lovely flaky pastry crust. It is meant to be cooked all night or all day in a slow oven until the meat and potatoes are meltingly tender.

I can remember my grandmother pulling it out of the oven onto the oven door and feeding it with water every now and then while it was cooking. It smelled absolutely tantalising when it was cooking.

Originally it was meant to hold three kinds of wild meat. Rabbit, partridge and venison or moose. Meat and game that would have been available and indigenous to the area.

We have always used chicken, beef and pork as we don't have ready access to those wild meats.  Irregardless, it is most delicious! 

We had promised to make one for my father over the holiday season. We had done the more common one for Christmas Eve and so did the Lac St Jean one for New Years Eve. Traditionally a time of celebration.

This is a holiday pie but I have been known to make it any time. Its so delicious we just enjoy it whenever we can!

We used my sister's lard and butter pastry recipe.  Its basically the recipe off the box of lard but she replaces some of the lard with butter.  

Her hints and tips for a flaky pastry are, one,  to always reserve some of the flour for when you are rolling the pastry out so that you are not adding too much flour, and it doesn't end up too dry. Measure the flour by spooning into the cup and leveling it off. Handle the dough the least amount as possible. Make and chill over night or at least for a few hours.

Cindy's Pastry

Cindy's Pastry
Yield: makes 6 single crusts
Author: Marie Rayner
This is my sister's butter/lard pastry. It is flaky and fool proof.


  • 1 3/4 cups lard (385g)
  • 1/2 cup butter (120g)
  • 5 1/2 cups flour (scant 5 1/4, reserving 1/4 cup for rolling) (770g, reserving 35 g for rolling)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 TBS vinegar
  • cold water to fill to one cup (240ml)


  1. Measure flour and salt into a bowl. (reserve 1/4 cup of flour for rolling) Drop in the lard and butter. Cut in using a pastry blender or two knives until the  mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Put the egg into a measuring cup, adding the vinegar and enough water to equal one cup.
  3. Add liquid gradually to the dry ingredients, stirring it in with a fork, until you have a dough which is not dry and which forms a ball in the bowl. Don't work it too much.
  4. Wrap and chill for several hours. Use as required.
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Tourtiere du Lac St Jean
Tourtiere du Lac St Jean
 We always begin these tourtiere the day before we plan on cooking them.  The meats, potato and onions need to be trimmed, peeled and cut into small cubes and then soaked in salt water over night.  

I suspect that originally this was so that they could lessen some of the "wild" flavour of the game.  But we still do it because it really helps to tenderise the meat and adds flavour.  

The next day when we go to bake it, we drain this mixture really well before adding it to the pastry.  We never have a soggy pastry or a dry pie.  It always turns out perfect.

It is not a slow process, baking this pie. It bakes in a slow oven all day, tantalising you with its delicious smell as it bakes.

My father had been so looking forward to this pie.  He was really excited when he saw it. As you can tell he was one very happy man. 

He could hardly wait to dig in.  A taste from all of the holidays of his childhood. He is 86, almost 87 now and slowing down a lot. His appetite is not what it used to be, but yesterday he enjoyed two servings of this.

It does make for rather a large pie.  We baked it in a really large aluminium roasting pan. Well two of them actually, one being inside the other for strength. It is also a heavy pie. 

You might think that it would be soggy on the bottom, but if you place the baking tin onto a heated baking tray in the oven, this helps to start the bottom crust cooking right away and keeps it crisp.

Also never heat up or cook the filling ahead of time.  Adding hot filling to the pastry would melt/melts the fat in it too soon. This also creates soggy. 

As you can see ours was perfectly baked and wonderfully crisp and flaky.  You also want the pastry a bit thicker for this as it is a very sturdy pie. 

Doesn't that look delicious? I can assure you that it is!  We were all in meat pie eating heaven last night. Not just my father! 
Both the men had two servings and we froze the remainder of it to have another time. We also kept out a piece to send home with dad today. It is supposed to snow a lot tomorrow and he may not be able to get over for his supper like usual.

The corners are always my favourite bit  The pastry is a bit thicker there and I am crazy about pastry. Who isn't!! 

You can get a closer look at the filling here. It was just right. I had not had to add any liquid to it at all during baking this time. Funny how that goes. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't.

This was absolutely perfect.  With a rich and delicious filling.  Beautifully flaky pastry. Just enough potato, onion and seasoning.

We always add a pinch of cloves.  Some people add garlic and its certainly delicious that way, but dad is not fond of garlic and so we don't.

Tourtiere du Lac St Jean

We do add a bit of summer savoury, which is an herb which is grown in Eastern Canada abudantly. It is a real favourite and flavours much of our Eastern Canadian savoury dishes. 
And while it is not traditional for this kind of tourtiere, it is traditional in ours.  We all enjoyed this very much with a mixed salad on the side and some pickles. Dad enjoys his with ketchup. I like mine plain. Its delicious any way you choose to enjoy it!

Tourtiere Lac St Jean

Tourtiere Lac St Jean
Yield: 16
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 24 Hourcook time: 6 H & 45 Mtotal time: 30 H & 45 M
This very generous meat pie is indigenous to the Saguenay region of Quebec. Originally it would have been made with wild meats, but today we use beef, chicken and pork. Its delicious!


  • 1 3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken
  • 1 3/4 pound boneless pork
  • 1 3/4 pound beef steak (we use bottom round)
  • 5 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 TBS salt
  • pinch cloves
  • 1/4 tsp summer savoury (not traditional, but we like it)
  • black pepper
  • water to cover
  • Pastry for six crusts (We bake this in a large, deep roasting tin)


  1. Cut all of your meats, onions and potatoes into a small dice. Place into a bowl along with the salt, cloves, summer savoury and cold water to cover. Place into the refrigerator or some other cool place, covered, and leave to soak overnight. When you are ready to make your pie, drain really well.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400*F/200*C/ gas mark 6. Have a large baking tray in the oven heating up with the oven.
  3. Roll two thirds of your pastry out to line your baking tin amply. You will want it between 1/4 and 1/3 of an inch thick. Spoon the meat and potato filling into the pan, without compressing it. Roll the remaining pastry out large enough to cover the filling, cutting a hole in the centre to vent and to give you a place to add any liquid as needed. Place over top and then trim and flute the edge all around. You can put a few slits in the corners if you want.
  4. Place onto the heated baking tray and pop into the hot oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350*F/180*C/ gas mark 4. Bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until you see the filling bubbling through the hole in the centre. The pastry should be starting to turn light golden brown. Loosely tent with some aluminium foil and reduce the oven temperature to 250*F/about 125*C/ gas mark 2. Continue to bake for a further 5 1/2 to 6 hours. Check it periodically to make sure it isn't going dry. If you think it is, you can pour a bit of water or stock into the hole in the centre.
  5. Uncover for the last 1/2 hour and turn the temperature back up to 350*C/180*C/ gas mark 4 to crisp up the top of the pastry. Leave to sit for about 15 minutes before cutting it into squares to serve.
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Tourtiere du Lac St Jean

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Marie Rayner
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  1. The look of bliss on your dad's face says it all. It certainly looks delicious. It was fun to hear the history of the toutiere, too. Was the chicken white or dark meat? I heard you were to get some heavy snowfall. Stay safe and warm. I roll my pie crust out between sheets of wax paper so I don't have to add flour to roll it out. Cindy's pastry almost looks like a puff pastry.
    Love and hugs, Elaine

    1. Its a beautiful pastry Elaine! Dad serouosly enjoyed this! Love and hugs. xoxo

  2. Happy New Year my friend, your pie looks delicious. At first i thought it was a Cornish Pasty but as a pie. The when I realised it had three meats in it, it is far from a pasty!! I can understand why it’s a party favourite, ideal for family gatherings.

    Scotland has the tradition of steak pie for New Years Day when the family gathers. Sadly Ralph’s family is scattered and all the elders have sadly passed on.

    Sending love and hugs across the ocean to you and yours.
    Keep safe, keep well and keep looking to the future, it is bright and shiny for you .

    Sheilagh xxx

    1. Thanks so much Sheilagh. I can remember you and Ralph often going to Scotland for breaks. THis is a lovely pie.Maybe one day you can try it. Love and hugs to you and Ralph and Happy 2021. May it be a better year for us all! xoxo

  3. Oh my gosh,that looks so delicious. I can see why your father was so happy.
    A good start to the year. I bet everyone is delighted you are cooking up these wonderful food.
    All the best for this new year and new lufe

    1. Thank you so much! All the best to you and yours also! xoxo

  4. Nice job. Fabulous pastry. I’ve flown in to Bagotville, when it was called that, on my way to Chicoutimi. The heartland of la belle province. Bonne Annee.

    1. Bonne Annee! Its probably one of the most beautiful areas of La Belle Province I think, but then I am a bit biased! xoxo

  5. We will probably try this one too, Marie. It looks just wonderful and Rick would love all that meat!

    1. I am sure you would both love it Jeanie! At least I hope so! xoxo

  6. That looks amazing. As amazing as the expression on your dad's face :)

    I really enjoy hearing about these different traditional regional foods. How lovely that your family continues that tradition - a link to your heritage and a way to keep these valuable links alive.

    1. I agree with your thoughts re keeping our heritaage alive with food. THank you Marie, it is pretty amazing and freezes very well also! xoxo

  7. That is wonderful, Marie. The look on your dad's face says it all. I've got a treat for the next time I see my father. In the town where he lived, one of his buddies' dad had a butcher shop and then he took over from his father. They make the most wonderful Czechoslovakian sausages ever. I have a package of them frozen and will take them when we go see my parents and cook them for dad. Happy New Year!

    1. Sounds delicious Raquel! Don't we love to spoil our dads when we can! Happy 2021!! xoxo

  8. Your sister's pastry is the exact same as the one I have used since age 8, minus the part butter. It came from my grandmother, who was a wonderful baker. I have never seen this recipe posted anywhere else. I can't wait to try it with butter. The Toutiere looks wonderful, as well. I will soon try it out.

  9. I made this recipe this past weekend. It was wonderful! I followed the recipe exactly as written. The pastry was amazing to work with. Though I was worried about handling such a large piece of pastry, I had no issue with it tearing in handling. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Sorry for such a late response! I am way behind! I am so pleased you tried this recipe and that you enjoyed it! That pastry is unbelievably delicious! I am so grateful to you for coming back to share your experience with us! Thank you! Happy 2021! xoxo


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