Tourtiere, or simply, Meat Pie, is a dish my husband, whose father was French Canadian, remembers from childhood. Mr Delightful hadn't had this dish since his Mémé died many years ago. I decided to make it for him this week in honor of his sister who recently died.
Living far apart, we vacationed together every year and had such good times. I loved her and her sense of humor. One day on my first stay in her home we had watermelon. I was fixing some for Mr Delightful when she asked me what I was doing. When I told her that her brother only liked it this way, she rolled her eyes and said to him, "Brother, Ma would be so happy to know you married a girl who takes the seeds out of your watermelon."
I don't know whether my sister-in-law ever made any foods from her childhood, but if she did they would have been foods from the French Canadian side because she and Mr Delightful did not think too highly of their mother's general cooking!
Some of my sister-in-law's specialties were the Middle Eastern dishes she learned from her husband's family (here's tabbouleh). Everyone loved her stuffed grape leaves, which she always made in huge quantities. Another Middle Eastern dish she made was simply called meat rice, made with ground meat (lamb, I think) and spices, including cinnamon.
So she wouldn't have hesitated to use cinnamon in her tourtiere as many people do; but I just couldn't bring myself to do it, though I did use the allspice, mace and cloves, albeit in smaller amounts than generally called for.
Cooking foods connected with a loved one who has died is one of the things that comforts me ... so ... for Linda ...
Tourtiere - French Canadian Meat Pie
(Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie, 6 to 8 servings)
The Meat Filling1 medium-large (12 ounces/340 grams) russet potato
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onion (1 8-ounce onion)
1 pound (454 grams) organic pastured ground pork
3/4 pound (340 grams) organic grass-fed ground beef
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon mace or nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
The Pastry2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces/354 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 15 minutes
2 tablespoons lemon juice or cider vinegar
Ice water to make 3/4 cup liquid
The Egg Wash1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
Note: That makes waaaaay too much egg wash for one pie, so if you hate food waste like I do, plan to use it in something else the day you make this.
1 Peel potato, cut up, boil and mash (you should have 1 to 1 1/4 cup); set aside.
2 In large skillet, heat oil and saute onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the ground pork and ground beef and cook over medium heat, stirring to break up the meat so that it won't cook into clumps. Add in the seasonings as the meat cooks until most of the liquid is gone, about 20 minutes, Stir in the mashed potato, mixing well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled, about 2 hours.
3 With metal blade in place, add flour, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses or until the frozen butter is the size of large peas. Add remaining butter and pulse for three 1-second pulses.
4 In cup, combine lemon juice or cider vinegar and ice water. Pour 1/2 cup of liquid over all of flour mixture and pulse for three 1-second pulses. If needed, add a tablespoon at a time, over all of flour mixture, doing a 1-second pulse after each tablespoon, or just until dough forms large clumps; do not over-process. (The amount of water you will need depends on your climate and the moisture content of your flour.)
5 Turn dough out onto two pieces of plastic wrap, using a little more for the bottom crust, and flatten each slightly into a 4-inch round disk. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6 Roll out the bottom crust (save the plastic wrap). It should be 13 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer dough to 9-inch pie plate, pressing it in place without stretching it; cover with reserved plastic wrap and refrigerate. Roll out top crust (again, save the plastic wrap) and place it on a rimless baking sheet; cover with reserved plastic wrap and refrigerate.
7 Preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas7. Spoon the meat filling into the pastry-lined pie plate, pressing it down lightly to compress it a bit. Brush the edge of the pastry with water and place the top crust, pressing the edges together to seal; trim and flute.
8 Beat the egg and water together and brush crust with the egg wash. Cut some steam vents or use a fork to make a pattern of small vent holes. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375F/190C/Gas5 and continue baking for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Note: After the first 15 minutes, I put a pie crust shield on it to protect the already browned crimped edge.
9 Some families have the tradition of serving tourtiere with mustard, some with ketchup; still others, gherkins or pickled beets.