Saturday, January 2, 2010


OK I love tourtiere. It is a pretty amazing dish. I made it for the first time this past New Year's Day, and it received compliments from a genuine French-Canadian, so hey, here's the recipe! It uses equal parts pork and lamb, simmered in turkey stock plus the necessary spices and a minimal compliment of sauteed veggies, packaged in a flakey butter crust because butter makes the best pie crusts and you are not going to sell your tourtiere short.

  • 500g ground lamb
  • 500g ground pork
  • 3 cups turkey stock
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 small onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tspn nutmeg, 2 tspn allspice, 1 tspn cinnamon, black pepper to taste
  • butter (for frying)
  • 2 tbsp corn starch or flour

  • Crusts:
  • 4 1/2 cups pastry flour
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • 220ml water
  • 30ml cider vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cups butter

  • For the filling, start the meat frying (feel free to fry it all at once, but my pan could only really take one pound at a time). You want it to be all broken up, so mix it and prod it. While that's going, start chopping your vegetables. As the meat is done, drain it and dump the meat into a bowl, and continue frying the rest of the meat. When all the meat is done, melt some butter in the pan to fry the veg and put the stock in a pot and bring it to a boil so it's ready when you want it. When the vegetables are all good and soft, combine the meat, spices, and vegetables with your stock and bring it to a boil. Let this simmer gently for an hour or so uncovered. The juice can reduce and get everything good and tasty.

    While the filling is cooking make your pastry! There is nothing special here, so you can skip this bit if you know how to make pie already. If you are still reading, combine the water and vinegar and put them in the fridge to keep cool. Mix your flour, salt, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl, then cut the butter up into cubes maybe half the size of the last segment of your left-hand pinky finger (it helps to bring the butter out of the fridge back when you started cooking so it is workable now). Toss the butter in the mixing bowl, and cut it through the flour. This involves using a pastry blender or just slicing it double-time with two knives kind of like scissors through the flour. Keep cutting it through until you've got a bunch of pea-sized bits of flour/butter.
    Spread this stuff over a large work surface, and sprinkle the water/vinegar over it. Gently toss it around then work it together into a big ol' raggedy mass (you may need to scrape some of it off the counter). Put the dough in the fridge to chill while you wash some dishes or something.
    When your kitchen's clean again, crack some black pepper into the filling that's cooking on the stove (I have heard pepper is best if you add it only for the last ten-fifteen minutes of cooking). Back to the pastry, roll out and fit two bottom crusts to pie tins, then roll out two top crusts. Back in the fridge again until you're done with the filling!

    So, now you've got two pie bottoms and two pie tops ready to go! Time to finish the filling! Hey, you were mixing that stuff on the stove semi-regularly while you were making the pastry, right? Right, OK. Oh you could probably turn your oven on to 375F now too.

    Strain the broth from the meat, dump the meat in a mixing bowl and put the broth back on the stove. Mix the meat and the breadcrumbs together, then mix the flour/starch in a quarter cup of cold water. Dump the starch-water in the broth, and cook over medium-high heat until it's thickened up and bubbly again. Turn heat to low and get your crusts out of the fridge.

    Half the filling goes in each pie, then the tops go on, then you get four radial steam vents, and they're ready for the oven. Forty minutes or so and the pastry should be done, and you've got two delicious tourtieres!

    Afterthoughts and concerns!
    I used about a liter of broth because that is what I had. It gave me about a cup too much broth after cooking so that is why I have said to use three cups. Alternatively, use a litre of stock and you'll get some tasty tourtiere gravy out of it, too. Which you might want, so hey, maybe use an extra cup
    My 'stock' was about the bare-bonesest of stocks possible, in that I just boiled all the bones plus gibbly scraps of one roasted turkey in water and reduced it to about a litre. I think the pies benefited from this simple stock because I do not think tourtiere needs busy flavours, it just needs simple, strong, delicious flavours mixed together in proportion. Use what you want but if you've got turkey bones, boil them and use that.
    I also don't know how long they cooked for, because I put them in then got lost in a book. Just bake them till the pastry's done and brown, as the insides are already OK.

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