Tourtiere (French Canadian Meat Pie)
Tourtiere is a succulent pie filled with spiced meat and pieces of potatoes simmered in broth to give it more flavor and tenderness—a meal popular in the colder month and around Christmas time in the French part of Canada.
Tourtiere is a beloved meal from Quebec, Canada, where I grew up. It’s a true familial meal everyone loves to eat, kids included, especially around the holiday season. It is usually served with ketchup for the little ones or homemade ketchup (chutney) for the grown-ups. Even if this dish is simple to make, it requires a little time, so usually, they are made by batch and frozen. This version is made with a personal twist of maple syrup and some extra spices to give it an extra festive touch.
Considered a traditional dish in the Province of Quebec, although nobody agrees on the exact recipe. Some make it with potato cubes; others mash them or no potatoes at all. However, everyone agrees that the original version, called Tourtière du Lac-St-Jean (Center of Quebec region), is made of various wild meats and is cooked slowly for about 8 hours. This original tourtiere is a more complex and labour-heavy recipe, so let’s keep it easy for now.
The Spice Mix
Open to interpretation, some traditionalists would say not to put anything other than salt and pepper. Even the garlic was not part of the first Tourtiere recipes. So I decided to ask Quebecers online what spices they use for theirs, and I’ve got a lot of cinnamon, clove, mustard seeds, celery salt, and allspice. I went ahead and used a bunch of spices I considered Holiday’ish’. They are all optional, but it’s divine if you want this fantastic aromatic meat! I put an extra spicy paprika to kick it up a notch, which I like. Especially with the added maple syrup, this added heat is barely noticeable, just enough to make it special on the tastebuds!
Once more, not everyone agrees on this; the original version was made with wild meats (moose, deer, rabbit, partridge, etc.) and usually a piece of salted lard, similar to bacon. Nowadays, most people mix ground pork, veal, beef, and sometimes chicken. For this version, I went with the most common and more accessible mix: the good old ground beef and pork.
A Holiday Meal
The one thing everyone in Quebec agrees with: Tourtière is a Holiday dish! Well, it must be eaten, let’s say, at least once around the holidays. It’s a meal you can make year-round; some even do mini versions for kids, but around Christmas time, it’s mandatory to enjoy one! It usually comes with a homemade tomato chutney or ketchup. Usually served with a lovely green salad and pickled veggies on the side, like pickles, onions, beets, etc.
Can I freeze Tourtiere?
Oh, yes, it’s a typical dish to make ahead of time. Cover with aluminum, then plastic until airtight. It lasts for a few weeks in the freezer. Store it with uncooked dough, and cook for ten more minutes; then the recipe indicates to heat it thoroughly!
What are the most used spices?
Cinnamon and clove are the most used. It saw tons of variations, but those two are common ones. For the clove, you can put them whole and pick them up in the end or make powder with it with the help of a mortar.
What type of mold/recipient should I use?
The typical mold is a deep dish pie plate with a smooth-sided (no undulations), an angle of 45°, and a 30 cm (12 inches) large pie recipient. It could be metal, pyrex, silicone, or ceramic as long as it goes in the oven. Unlike sweet pies, this one usually stays in its mold.
Other French Canadian Familial Dishes
- The Best Guedille au Poulet (Chicken Salad Sandwich)
- Pâté Chinois (French Canadian Shepherd’s Pie)
- Bouilli or Pot au Feu Québecois
- 1 pie mould 30cm / 5cm deep.
- 2 pre-made pie dough round
- 2 potatoes medium sized
- 1 cup chicken broth or meat broth
- 1 egg
- 30 ml olive oil or butter
- 400 g ground veal or beef
- 400 g ground pork
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 30 ml maple syrup
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 4 cloves in powder better
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- ½ tsp ginger in powder
- ½ tsp spicy paprika or chipotle powder *optional
- ⅓ tsp nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- Heat a skillet or big pan at medium-high heat and cook the onions with the olive oil until colored., about 5 minutes.
- Cook the potatoes in a small pot of water until tender, about 30 minutes.
- Add the meat, garlic and all the spices to the pan and cook until brown,
- Add the broth and let it simmer for about 40 minutes or until almost all the liquid is evaporated.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), add the bottom pie dough to the mould and cook for 5 minutes.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, cut into small cubes, add to the meat and mix.
- Add the filling to the bottomed pie dough and cover with the other pie dough, press the sides to close the pie and make a cut or hole on top.
- Beat the egg in a small bowl and brush it over the pie with a sprinkle of salt.
- Cook in the oven at 180°C (350°F) for about 40 minutes or until golden.