Monday, January 10, 2011

Tourtière: Quebecois Meat Pie

Tourtière, originating from Quebec, is a meat pie made with minced pork, veal or beef and flaky pastry. A traditional part of Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve meal in Quebec, tourtière is now enjoyed throughout Canada and all year long!
Did you know: The term "tourtière" came from a cooking utensil that was used to make a pie or tourte. Tourte also means passenger pigeon in French and was traditionally used as the pie's meat filling. It was in the early 1600's that the word tourtière became known for the Quebecois meat pastry.

I was introduced to tourtière by my boyfriend's grandma, Mame, who grew up with this classic Quebecois meat pie as a food staple in her youth. She continues to make it till this day! I soon learned that the secret to a good tourtière is the texture of the filling and the flakiness of the pastry. According to Mame, to get really flaky pastry, you need to use lard.

I did some research and found out that the fat's purpose in the pastry is to melt during baking, leaving air spaces. When in the oven, flour starches tend to set around the fat, leaving layers and spaces as the fat slowly melts and is reabsorbed into the dough. The longer the fat takes to melt, in this case lard has a higher melting point than butter, the more defined the little air pockets become which form more flaky air pockets. So lard it is!

Another wonderful thing about
tourtières, they can be made in advance and frozen, then served hot or cold. I prefer hot, of course! Mame gave us a lesson to make her deliciously flaky and fragrant meat pie and hope you'll try it for your friends and family to enjoy.

Makes six, 9-inch pies

For filling:
- 3.5 lb ground pork
- 3 lrg onions, minced
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups peeled potatoes
- 2 tbsp celery salt
- 1 tsp allspice
- salt & pepper to taste
Did you know: Allspice is known as "quatre-epices" in French. The name literally means "four spices" and includes the following spices, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.
For pastry:
  1. For the filling, combine pork, minced onion, & minced garlic. Cook slowly over med-low heat, for about 1 hour. Try not to brown the pork.
  2. Cut and peel the potatoes then boil over med heat, for about 30 minutes. Take off from heat and mash the potatoes to make smooth mashed potatoes.
  3. Combine mashed potatoes and cooked pork mixture then set aside to cool.
Did you know: The goal behind chilling the meat filling is to give the pastry time to cook and puff up before the filling warms and becomes more liquid.
Pastry prep:
  1. For the pastry, mix together flour and salt. Cut in lard with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Gradually stir water into flour mixture, stirring constantly with a fork. Add only enough cold water to make dough cling together. Let dough rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Roll out half of the pastry and fit into six, 9-inch pie plates, and trim edge of pastry with a knife so that's even with pie plate. Then spoon cooled pork filling mixture into prepared pie shell.
  3. Roll out remaining pastry to 10-inch rounds, cut steam vents and place over filling. Trim the edge of pastry so that's even with the pie plate and crimp edges. Brush pastry with egg wash and bake at 375 degrees for30 minutes, or until pastry is golden and filling is bubbly. Bon appétit!


  1. Whenever I am at my best friend's house during their gathering every Christmas, they serve various pie dishes, from potato, apple, and meat, in which they knew that were my favorites since I was a young boy. Due to the number of delicious food served to us, there is one time that my friend accidentally got her tooth cracked due to a metal fork, she laughed it off though, but the pain was painted on her face every other bite.