This year I had the opportunity to make tourtière for my Danish family and friends for Christmas in Copenhagen. None had ever heard of it, and it was a nice addition to the traditional 2.Jul Dag buffet that we served.
Tourtière is originally a Québecois dish, but has been enjoyed across Canada for generations. In my opinion it is Canada's most known and unique traditional dish. Unlike so many Canadian recipes, there is no equivalent in Europe. The French people I've described tourtière to claim there is no such thing as meat pie in France, and seem a bit indignant that such an English sounding thing could be labelled French. I partially agree, because tourtière is closer to a Cornish pasty than anything I've seen on the continent.
There are endless recipes for tourtière, but a mixture of ground pork and veal is most common. My sister lives near North Bay, In the French speaking part of Ontario, where moose meat is often used. Some people claim there is salmon tourtière on the east coast, but that's straying a bit far from the concept in my opinion. The spicing of tourtière varies from pie to pie, but almost always contains cinnamon and allspice. I consider sage to be indispensable in a tourtière, and the cinnamon / sage pairing is the flavour profile that makes the tourtière so distinct from any other savoury pie. Marjoram is also a nice addition that I use, although I don't see it in many recipes.
|Christmas at my Sister's Farm|
The condiments that accompany tourtière vary from place to place and family to family. In Toronto my mom served tourtière with Sharwood's Major Grey Mango Chutney. Piccalilli is also a popular choice, but chow chow tomato relish seems to be preferred in Quebec. Ketchup is also popular, but possibly an injustice. Pickled beets, cranberry sauce and gravy are also served by some people, but these are oddities in my opinion. For my tourtière, I served piccalili, nigella and cumin spiced chow chow, and Mia's mother's home pickled green tomatos with ginger and vanilla. All three compliment the pie and each other. I highly recommend the trio for the supreme tourtière experience.
The short crust pastry for the tourtière is standard and can be decorated with Christmas trees, stars, maple leaves, moose, or fleur de lis if you like. Mia made the nice design on ours. My recipe for the filling is based on the recipe we used at Le Rendez-Vous Restaurant in Yorkville, where I worked as Sous-Chef in the 80's, as well as some influences from various family members recipes. I've been perfecting this recipe for years, and I take pride that it is one of the best.
Recipe for Tourtière
500g ground veal
500g ground pork
250g small diced potatoes
1 large chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 tbsp dried sage
1/4 tbsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1tbsp cider vinegar
salt and pepper
1. Saute garlic, onions, and potatoes until onions soften
2. add spices and blend well
3. add meat, vinegar and 1/2 cup water, and stir to break the ground meat up well
4. season with salt and pepper and simmer until the water is absorbed and the potatoes are cooked
5. cool mixture to room temperature
6. fill a 9 inch pie crust heaping with the cooled mixture and top and decorate with another crust
7. egg wash and bake at 175 degrees until crust is golden brown
8. serve at room temperature with your choice of condiments
Tomato Chow Chow
4 large tomatoes diced
1 small onion finely diced
1 tsp nigella seed
1tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp coriander seed
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
1. dry roast seeds in a pan for a couple of minutes
2. add 1 tbsp olive oil, then the onions and tomatoes and saute
3. add sugar, vinegar, water, salt and pepper
4. simmer until a thick jam consistency.