Thursday, 15 December 2011

Tourtière: Baking à la canadienne française

Tourtière is a French Canadian staple for the holidays. It's made up of ground meat and flaky pastry, and is served alongside the turkey for Christmas dinner. This type of pie is typically eaten with ketchup, and can be a bit of a mystery to anglophones, who are used to having gravy and vegetables in their meat pies.

These freeze easily, so we typically make several at one time to take to dinner parties and give to family and friends. Even though I wont be going home for the holidays this year, I am still looking forward to quite a feast

So let's get on with the baking. I purchased some pork from the wonderful Irving Farms, and a smaller amount of beef and veal from another local farm at the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market. I made two large balls of flaky pie dough ahead of time, and let it rest in the fridge overnight.

I cooked the meat with some garlic, onion, nutmeg, cloves and a little bit of salt and pepper until it was brown and most of the liquid was gone.

Once the meat was ready, I let it cool while I rolled out the dough for my first pie plate. I used about a fist sized ball of dough, and a whole lot of flour to prevent it from sticking.

Once I had the dough rolled out into an approximate circle big enough for the pie plate, I pressed it in there without cutting off the extra dough.

Next, I filled the pie with meat and rolled out a second ball of dough for the top of my pie. This one has a little notch in the middle for the steam to escape during baking. I also painted the edge of the pie bottom with some egg to allow the top to stick.

The hardest part of all of this is getting the little notch that you've cut in the dough aligned with the centre of the pie. I'm not very good at this. My aunt uses a toothpick to mark the middle, but I just kind of eyeball it. I believe that the wonky looking ones are made with extra love. 

Once the pie top is on, I mash the edges with a fork to seal the dough, and then use a knife to cut off the excess all the way around the pie.

Now my pie is ready to go in the oven. First, I paint the whole top with a little bit more egg so that it will bake up golden, and then I pop it in the oven to bake before starting to roll the next one. After a while, you've got an oven full of pies. I try to put the later ones at the back since they will be ready last. I always manage to burn myself doing this, and this time was no exception.

Take them out when they're golden, and enjoy! Yum.