By: Jessica Saunders
In my family, a traditional meal around Christmas time is Tourtière, a French-Canadian recipe. It is also known as meat pie. I decided to contribute this recipe to the class’s recipe book because it is my all-time favourite meal. Many years ago, my mother watched her mother make Tourtières “au pif”, in other words, by guesswork or by eye, and also learned how to make it herself. I have yet to do so.
Once my mother caught on to the way my grandmother made Tourtière, she started making them for my Dad and me. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Tourtière as one of the main courses at the dinner table. My English side of the family has also caught on to this tradition. My aunt on my Dad’s side of the family also makes Tourtière, but it is slightly different than my Mom’s. I’d like to show you both of them, but I’ve chosen to write about my mother’s recipe because it is the one I’ve grown up with.
It was quite difficult to get down the proper measurements for this recipe because, as I mentioned before, my mother has gotten into the habit of making it “au pif”. So I apologize in advance if the measurements are not as precise as they should be. The blend of beef, pork, soda crackers, onions and spices is magnificent in its simplicity. The filling combined with the crust fit perfectly together. I highly recommend you try this recipe. You will not be disappointed, I can guarantee it!
Pie Pastry (CRISCO® method):
- 2 cups of All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¾ cup CRISCO® All-Vegetable shortening
- 4-8 tbsp. ice cold water
- 2 lb. medium ground pork
- ½ lb. lean ground beef
- 1 large onion, chopped in small pieces
- Begin with 1 cup water, add more water until it tops up over the meat in the saucepan
- ½ tsp. of salt
- ¼ tsp. of pepper (add more later if necessary)
- ¼ tsp. of ground cloves
- ¼ tsp. of cinnamon
- a dash of nutmeg
- ½ box to 1 box of crushed soda crackers
Preparing the pastry/pie crust (directly from CRISCO® box)
1. Blend flour and salt in medium mixing bowl. Cut 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) cubes of chilled shortening into flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pea-sized pieces remaining.
2. Sprinkle 4 tbsp. of ice cold water over the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir and draw flour from bottom of bowl to the top; press chunks down to bottom of bowl with fork. Add more water by the tablespoon, mixing until dough holds together.
3. Divide dough in two, one ball slightly larger than the other. Flatten ball into 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) thick round disks, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
4. Place larger disk of dough on lightly floured work surface. With floured rolling pin, roll dough outward from center into circle 1 inch (2.5cm) wider than pie plate. Transfer dough to pie plate without stretching and trim evenly around plate.
5. Roll top pie crust; lift onto filled pie. Trim dough to ¾ inch (2 cm) overhang; fold top crust under bottom dough edge. Press edges together and flute. Cut slits in top crust.
Making the filling and the Tourtère
1. Begin by preparing the pastry/pie crust before starting the filling. After the pie crusts are made begin preparation of the filling.
2. In a fairly large saucepan bring pork, beef and one cup of water to a boil and add finely chopped onions, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium. Once meat is cooked, add the ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. *Be cautious with the nutmeg: do NOT add too much.
3. Once this is complete, begin by adding soda crackers. Add crackers depending on how much meat juice is present in the saucepan. Simmer slowly and stir occasionally until desired thickness is reached. Once there is no meat juice left, do not continue adding more soda crackers.
4. While the filling has been cooking, the pastry should have been prepared ahead of time. Fill meat mixture in the bottom crust and place top crust over the filling. Seal the edges of the two crusts together then in the centre of the top crust cut 2 or 3 slits.
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place pie in oven for approximately 10 minutes to avoid burning the crust. Reduce the ovens heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake pie for another 30 minutes or until crust is brown and the pie is slightly bubbling.
6. Let pie stand for about 10-15 minutes before cutting it into slices.