Recipe 1: Classic Tourtière

Tourtière originated in Quebec and is frequently enjoyed in the winter months, particularly during the holidays. Since the weather is turning chilly and our need to cocoon has begun, this is the perfect recipe for a lazy weekend brunch or a simple supper. Add a tasty salad or some steamed seasonal veggies, your favourite bottle of red wine or mulled cider and you have a wonderful meal.

The name Tourtière supposedly comes from a pie-making utensil, but by 1611 tourtière more or less referred to the meat pie as we know it today. Historically, the tourtière was the pie-pan named for the key ingredient: the cooked meat of the once abundant and now extinct passenger pigeon, the “Tourte”!

There are no absolute rules for making this meat pie except that it requires meat. Some variations can include root vegetables, pork, beef, veal, game or seafood in the filling. My preference is for a nice thick crust that I glaze with milk before going into the oven, but even the pastry is up to individual interpretation. Classic pastry dough is the most widely-known version, but some swear by a seasoned mashed potato topping (which for me borders on becoming a cottage/shepherds pie cross). Any way you make it, this French Canadian meat pie is a delicious way to warm up during the cold months. To make this meal super easy and convenient you can purchase prepared pie shells to save time.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Pâté Brisée (recipe below) or store-bought pastry dough for a double crust
1 tablespoon light olive
1 pound of ground lamb or 1/2 pound lamb & 1/2 pound veal combo
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1/3 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2/3 cup beef stock
2 teaspoons Cognac (this may be omitted or substituted for red wine)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
1/16 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/16 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs

Pâté Brisée (Pie Crust):

Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9 to 10 inch pies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Directions for Pie Crust:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

While dough is chilling prepare meat as follows:

Using a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté the lamb, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery until the vegetables are tender and the meat is cooked through. Drain any excess fat from the pan. Add beef stock, Cognac, herbs, and spices to the meat and vegetables; simmer the mixture over low-medium heat, covered, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir the dry breadcrumbs into the mixture. Allow the meat filling to sit and cool slightly. Preheat oven to 400F.
Remove pastry dough from refrigerator allow to sit for a few minutes. Roll pastry dough into 2 equal-sized circles to fit a 9-inch pie pan. Line the bottom of the pie pan with 1 circle and set aside the prepared pie pan and remaining pastry for later.
Spoon filling into crust and top with the remaining pastry dough. Crimp the dough shut, flute the edges, cut vents in the top, and bake the pie for 12 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350F and continue baking the pie for 25 to 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

This tourtière will yield 6 to 8 servings.

FOOTNOTE: This pie is SO delicious you will want to eat more!

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