Next time you’ve got a couple of hours that you want to spend with a cup of hot tea and a book, aware in the periphery of your little blanket-wrapped, couch-bound world of the smell of warmly spiced meat, make a tourtière.
Tourtière is a traditional French Canadian meat pie – a simple flaky crust with ground veal and pork spiced with cinnamon, cloves, allspice, savory, mace and bay leaves. The meat soaks in the flavour of the aromatic herbs as it cooks slowly on the stove top. Though the filling takes a little while to cook, this recipe easily makes two pies, and they freeze beautifully for a mid-week meal or a special Sunday lunch.
I got my recipe from Renee Lavallée (aka the Feisty Chef), a local chef who’s famous for her Family Dinners at Two if By Sea Cafe (best place EVER!) among other culinary feats.
Here’s what you need:
For the filling –
2 lbs ground pork
2 lbs ground veal (I couldn’t find ground veal at my butcher on the day I made this so I used pork for the whole thing…still good!)
1 onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. ground allspice
1 tbsp. savory
1/2 tbsp. ground mace (this recipe really gave me an excuse to flesh out my spice cupboard!)
2 medium potatoes, grated (skin on)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for sauteing
For the crust –
This is my Gramma’s pie crust recipe. The. Best. Note: this recipe only makes one top and bottom crust – if you want to make two pies you should double it.
2 cups all purpose white flour or pastry flour
1 cup cold butter (cut into cubes) or shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold water
Here’s what you do:
Add the olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the meat and saute until browned, and then add the spices. Cover the meat with boiling water and let it simmer for two hours. After this, add the grated potato and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Cool and skim off any fat.
For the crust, add the flour and salt to a bowl and whisk. Add the fat by breaking it apart and rubbing it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it forms pebble-sized chunks. Do not overwork! Add just enough of the cold water (you may not use all of it) to form a cohesive dough.
Now, I recommend re-chilling your pie dough in the fridge for an hour or two to achieve maximum flakiness/awesomeness, but it’s up to you.
Split the dough in half and roll out onto a flour dusted countertop (with a flour dusted rolling pin!) or silicone mat (I used mine for the first time when making this recipe and had a complete pastry-related epiphany. Those things are handy!!). When the crust is about 1/4″ thick, transfer to a pie pan. Now add in half of your meat mixture. Roll out the second half of the dough and place on top of the meat.
Use your fingers to pinch together the top and bottom crusts (if someone wants to teach me the art of doing this in a pretty way, I would welcome it!). Cut a couple slices out of the top crust for steam to escape.
To cook, preheat your oven to 350F and bake the pie until the crust is golden brown.