In Québec, following the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL is akin to a religion. A great aunt and uncle of mine watched every game they could. He, a francophone, voiced his own commentary on the action while she, an anglophone, knitted quietly on the sofa or listened in from the kitchen. Later on, his blood pressure worries led him to do crossword puzzles at the kitchen table while she watched the game on TV, volume off, knitting, calling updates to him. Les Glorieux, Les Habitants, the Habs.
Early settlers to New France some three hundred years ago and more, those who dug the soil, raised families and farmsteads and communities, became known as les habitants. A tradition their generations have carried forward is for the Christmas Eve dinner to include a meat pie, a tourtière. My cousins host a family reunion around Christmastime, and they continue to serve up a tourtière along with roast ham, squash, potatoes, and apple pie. They won’t give out their recipe, only their two daughters have been told… what? I don’t know. I imagine it’s in the details of the herbs and seasonings. Some recipes call for potatoes, but not theirs. Folks will mix ground beef, veal, and/or venison with the ground pork, but not them. In the absence of their formula, here’s a tourtière recipe Mrs and I have tried and enjoyed. Served cold is okay with me too, along with some pickles or salsa. Served from a tailgate at the Arrowhead parking lot would be fine as well. Good eats and go, Chiefs!
Preparation time: 30 minutes (includes making and rolling pastry)
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
A French Canadian Christmas Eve tradition for generations. Serve with a homemade chili sauce or hot pepper jelly.
2 lbs ground pork
1 cup water
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried sage leaves, crumbled
1 tsp each salt, mace and dried thyme
1/2 tsp each dry mustard, allspice, grated nutmeg and freshly ground black pepper or to taste
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
pastry for two 9” double-crust pies
1 tbsp milk
- Combine pork, water, onions, garlic and seasonings in a large saucepan. * Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, until pork is no longer pink and most of liquid has evaporated, about 45 minutes. * Remove from heat, stir in breadcrumbs and let cool to room temperature. * Line pie plates with pastry. * Divide pork mixture between two pie shells and cover with top crusts. * Trim, seal and flute edges. * Slash steam vents. * Brush with milk and bake in preheated 425 °F oven for 10 minutes. * Reduce temperature to 350 °F and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and filling is bubbly. If tourtière is made ahead and frozen, bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through.
- The Recipes Only Cookbook by Carroll Allen and the food writers of Recipes Only Magazine, A Recipes Only/Lorraine Greey Book; 1989, Recipes Only Magazine Ltd., Telemedia Procom Inc., Toronto, Canada; page 93.