It doesn’t matter where you are from, we all grew up with recipes from our cultures, our nation and of course from our family circle. This is how traditions are made… with simple little things like favorite foods and recipes!
In case some of you don’t know where I’m from originally, I was born and raised in Montréal. I was in my early 20s when I first moved to Ontario, returned briefly to Québec and then moved back to Ontario again. I’ve been living outside of the province of Québec for most of my life (almost 30 years) and yet, I still carry on my traditions. This is who I am… a French lady from Québec.
All the kids in my neighborhood grew up eating almost the same foods. When the Holidays were around the corner, we were anticipating all the dishes that would be served during those “special occasions”. Besides the traditional turkey dinner, there were other food staples that hit most Québécois family tables during that time of year and ours wasn’t any different!
Tourtière was always on the menu… tourt… iere… what? Yes tourtière! What is it, you ask? It’s simply a meat pie packed with flavor. Cooked with different types of meat and added spices, herbs and other ingredients, this dish is such an important staple in Québec during the Holidays! It has been around for 400 years in our French Canadian culture… now that should tell you something about tradition…! If there’s no tourtière on the menu, then something quite important is missing from the dinner table. I personally prefer to have tourtière over turkey and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Of course from one family to another, everyone adds their own personal touch. I’m sure mine can be slightly different than someone else’s. For an example, my mother and I don’t cook the same tourtière. I add potatoes to mine while she doesn’t. The taste and texture of mine is different but not to the point that our tourtières are far apart.
Just a quick story here… I was telling our friends Nitsa and Les about the Holidays and that I’d love to have them over for dinner. Right away Les asked me if I knew how to make tourtière. I was shocked that he’d even heard about it. I had a smirk on my face when I said – “Of course I know how to make it! ” – and before he continued, I had the feeling that he would ask me to make some for him…! Sure enough, he requested that I make him a few pies. There’s also other friends of ours, Louise and Tim, where the same scenario repeated – Tim loves tourtière and wanted some as well… perhaps there’s a business opportunity here…lol!
Anyway, this just tells you how much people enjoy the taste of it and just like the French Canadians, this is a well anticipated dish that everyone loves! It is a delicious Holiday staple to have on your table during this time of year. It freezes well so it can be enjoyed later on during the year. This is a dish that is served along with turkey and can be relished with gravy or ketchup… seriously! I love mine with a couple dollops of ketchup. So if you want to add a new taste sensation to your festive menu, this is the perfect choice…
- 500 grams lean ground beef
- 500 grams ground veal
- 500 grams ground pork
- 1 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 large red onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 1/2 tsp. mixed spice
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste (I always use mixed peppercorns)
- 1/4 tsp. garlic salt, or more to taste
- 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 1/2 cups low-sodium beef stock, or more if needed
- 2 1/2 cups water, or more if needed
- 4 (9-inch) pie crusts
- Milk, for brushing the top crusts
FOOTNOTE: After baking the pies at 425ºF for 15 minutes, you have 2 options; either you continue baking and reduce heat to 350ºF for an additional 50 to 60 minutes OR you freeze them for later use.
If you decide to freeze the tourtières, remove from the heat and let them cool to room temperature then wrap the pies tightly with plastic wrap followed with aluminum foil. To thaw out frozen pies, place them in the refrigerator overnight and then bake them in the oven at 350ºF for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden.