This French Canadian tourtière is the taste of the holidays for many Quebecers. A flavourful beef and pork filling wrapped in a flaky pâte brisée pie crust, how can anyone go wrong?
There’s a region in Québec that’s a couple of hundred kilometres north of the famous St. Lawrence River, up the Saguenay River, called Lac St-Jean. I have family who live there and if they hear someone call a meat pie that isn’t from Lac St-Jean a tourtière, they are quick to disparage it.
There are tourtière recipes out there that are branded as Lac St-Jean style, but really, everyone’s recipes are so different that it’s hard for me to understand what makes that a tourtière, and my tourtière a meat pie.
By the way, here’s some food history for you. The name tourtière comes from the cooking dish these pies used to be prepared in, and the dish itself is of French origin.
Oh, and just so you know, this is not a tourtière from Lac St-Jean, nor is it in that style. It’s a French Canadian tourtière. The family can flay me later.
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FRENCH CANADIAN TOURTIÈRE RECIPE VIDEO
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THE FOUNDATIONS OF A FRENCH CANADIAN MEAT PIE
There are three important elements in making a great meat pie: the crust, the meat and the seasonings. Everything else is a bonus, and I encourage you to play around with the recipe to make it yours.
I say it again and again, but a recipe is a guideline. If you follow my recipe to a tee, I’ll be flattered, but maybe you like more garlic than I do, or perhaps you’re fresh out of savoury.
In any case, my recipe is pretty darn good. Here, I’ll quote my husband, Big Papa, “It was really good. I keep having tourtière flashbacks”.
It was really good. I keep having tourtière flashbacks.
THE TOURTIERE PIE CRUST
When it comes to making tourtière, I turn to a classic pâte brisée, which is a shortcrust pie dough.
Considering the meaty nature of this pie, I would also be open to using a pie dough where lard is the primary fat. This would make the recipe more traditional, but I would go out of my way to make sure I’m sourcing something that’s pure and not super processed. I spent a couple of years in high school greasing pizza pans with commercial lard, and I refuse to taint my good pie dough with that, but something like this, yes.
Naturally, you can also buy a crust, but it’s easy to make a pie dough, and you can even make it ahead and freeze it. Plus, when you make it yourself, you can guarantee that your ingredients are pure.
MEAT FOR A TOURTIERE
Several Christmases ago, Big Papa made a seven meat tourtière. Big Papa can be a bit decadent sometimes and when he gets a recipe idea, he’ll latch on to it until he sees it to fruition. That year, he wanted to make a tourtière with many meats, and he got it. There was pork, boar, beef, partridge, veal, venison, and I don’t even remember what else.
My French Canadian tourtière recipe is a bit more reasonable and in line with with what you can expect from Quebec meat pies.
Pork and beef fill this traditional dish, and if you can, I recommend sourcing the meat close to home.
Quality meat is more expensive, but it’s better for our health. There are so many problems with industrial farming practices, and that extends to the meat industry. Yes, the price tag is cheaper, but we’re paying for it in the long run with our health.
Anyhow, beef and pork are the classic options. Sometimes tourtière is made with veal, but that’s not an option in my kitchen.
This is the one area where you can play around the most. While it’s not a seasoning, some folks cube up potatoes for their meat filling to give it extra oomph.
The herbs I use in mine are rosemary, savoury, parsley, and a couple of bay leaves.
I usually eye ball my herbs and seasonings, sprinkling it in until I’m satisfied. Do you do that, too, or do you carefully measure out each ingredient? If you belong to the latter group, I invite you to take a walk on the wild side. Try to eyeball a teaspoon instead of using one; just don’t do that when you bake!
CAN I MAKE TOURTIÈRE IN ADVANCE?
You sure can! If you’re serving tourtière around the holidays, it’s an easy recipe to prep ahead of time. Freeze it unbaked, and then bake it for 20-30 extra minutes while it’s still frozen.
WHAT DO I SERVE WITH MY HOLIDAY MEAT PIE?
When your tourtière is on the table, ready to serve, you’ll want to have one or two condiments to offer the folks around your table.
The first is ketchup. We don’t use much ketchup in my household, but tourtière is one of the rare occasions that it gets pulled from the fridge. The same is true with chutneys and pickled beets.
OTHER PIE-RELATED RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE
FRENCH CANADIAN TOURTIÈRE INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp avocado oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup beef broth
1 garlic clove, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried savoury
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
FRENCH CANADIAN TOURTIÈRE INSTRUCTIONS
Heat a 12" cast iron skillet and add the oil. When hot, add the onion.
Sauté the onion with the savoury, rosemary, parsley, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and pepper for 3-5 minutes, until translucent.
Add the meat and start browning.
When the meat is half-way cooked, add the oats, broth, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and more salt and pepper, if desired.
Taste and adjust the seasonings, remove from heat and cool.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF
Grease a 12" pie plate and roll out the dough.
Line the pie plate with the dough, add the meat filling, and cover with the top crust.
Score the top and brush with egg wash.
Pop it in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
PRINTABLE FRENCH CANADIAN TOURTIÈRE RECIPE CARD
French Canadian Tourtière
- 12" Cast Iron Skillet
- 12" pie plate
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 medium onions finely chopped
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/3 cup beef broth
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried savoury
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- pie crust
- 1 egg beaten
- Heat a 12″ cast iron skillet and add the oil. When hot, add the onion.
- Sauté the onion with the savoury, rosemary, parsley, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and pepper for 3-5 minutes, until translucent.
- Add the meat and start browning.
- When the meat is half-way cooked, add the oats, broth, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and more salt and pepper, if desired.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings, remove from heat and cool.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Grease a 12″ pie plate and roll out the dough.
- Line the pie plate with the dough, add the meat filling, and cover with the top crust.
- Brush with egg wash and score.
- Pop it in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
PIN IT FOR LATER
Love and gratitude,