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Christmas en Croute


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#1 Daily Gullet Staff

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 10:57 AM

hspace="5" align="left">by Margaret McArthur

I remember going to Woolworth's -- which sported its year-round but especially seasonal red-and-gold shop sign -- on the rue Des Forges in Trois-Rivieres, and casing the racks of Christmas cards. I had 50 cents, so I had to settle for robins and holly. The two-dollar assortment, so out of reach for a seven year-old on an allowance, gleamed and glittered and glammed. I wanted that box -- it showed the landscape from my bedroom window as I pressed my nose against its lacy ice-etched pane, waiting for Santa.

The sky was deepest midnight blue on those cards, plastered with foil stars, the snow a dusting drift of metallic sugar. Lights peeped from the windows of steep-roofed cottages. All was cold, all was bright.

There's no describing the cold of those Christmas Eves. I’ve lived in Chicago for 30 years, and, by comparison, I'm living in Palm Springs. When we were courting, my Chicagoan husband waited at a bus stop with me in Montreal in January and we wrapped ourselves around each other against the stunning cold. He breathed on my face to warm me up "like the animals did in the stable, breathing on the Baby" -- and Montreal was a sultry microclimate away from my home town.

Christmas Eve snow stood five-foot deep, glassy and hard as a Caspar David Friedrich sea. A child could walk on that polar continent until she crashed through the crust and felt the shards bite the exposed inch between boots and snow pants like the fangs of a white shark. It hurt, that crust. But as Christmas Eve turned to early Christmas Day, it shone gold from the bungalow lights of my neighbors (French Canadians returning from midnight mass to break fast at the reveillon). Just like the snow on the two-dollar box.

The reveillon is an early Christmas morning fete, traditional in Quebec after midnight mass. It was a right whoop up: The Cinqaunte and Ex flowed; so did the Canadian Club highballs. Oysters on the half-shell, viandes without number, desserts and music -- happy families packing calories against the cold. (Christmas Eve was a day of both fasting and abstinence -- no snacking between meals, no meat.) The tiny Anglo population in our town woke early for stockings and shortbread and Santa, rested and refreshed, except for the Dads who crashed at four a.m. after hours of dollhouse wrangling. Our French Canadian neighbors slept in later, checked out the cadeaux Pere Noel had left, and rested up for le Jour de L'an -- New Year's Day, which remains the true Quebec family holiday. But I’m willing to bet the contents of my stocking that they were eating at two a.m. what we’d polished off at suppertime: that sublime carb-and-pork antifreeze called tourtiere.

+ + +

Tourtiere is a double-crust ground pork pie -- and it's my vote for the national dish of French Canada, not just because you can find mass-produced versions in any frozen food aisle or bakery counter, but because it’s such an old dish. The seasoning -- that whiff of allspice, nutmeg and clove -- testifies to its seventeenth-century origins, the age of the first great push of Norman and Breton settlers to Voltaire’s "few acres of snow." These immigrants brought with them the heady spices of the late Renaissance cooking, flavors we associate with eggnog. French chefs in the eighteenth century began to play with the herbs we use in modern French cooking, but in far-away Quebec, the seasoning for tourtiere changed little. I'm not saying that tourtiere tastes or smells like a porky pumpkin pie: there's the mere hint of nutmeg and clove that can't compete with the onion, and that pinch of sauriette (savory, winter or summer) that flourishes on farms and in kitchen gardens all over Quebec.

There's argument about the etymology of tourtiere: some say it refers to a French meat pie made from a dove-like bird called a toutre, a pigeon so witless and slow it begged to be massacred along with its dim extended family. Others trace the dish to the old iron cooking vessel of the same name: a tourtiere hunched on the hearth on short legs and had a heavy concave lid, into which coals were poured -- our New England brethren would have called it a spider. There are regional recipes and traditions too: the tourtieres of Lac St. Jean or the Mauricie or Quebec City may differ in big ways, like using chunks of game instead of pork mince, or including ground beef and veal. Quebec City’s ancient tourtiere was thickened with oatmeal, not potatoes, the culinary legacy of the Highland regiments who stayed on in Quebec City after 1759, marrying the local desmoiselles and producing descendents who rejoice in names like Jean-Marie MacDuff, the boss machine tender on number three machine at the CIP newsprint mill in Trois-Rivieres.

Julian Armstrong, in her 2001 book, A Taste of Quebec explores these variations for the filling:
  • Tourtiere de Quebec: straightforward ground pork, onions and aromatics, with the aforementioned oatmeal.
  • Tourtiere de Charlevoix: One inch chunks of pork, beef and potatoes.
  • Tourtiere Leboutiller from the Gaspe – two to one ratio ground beef to ground pork.
  • Tourtiere de Fleur-Ange, from the Laurentides: ground pork once again, but a cup and a half of celery and celery leaves and: Tabernacle! -- a half cup of parsley -- a renegade tourtiere for vegetarians. In truth, things green and leafy were items conspicuous in their absence at la table de Noel -- the vegetable accompaniments to tourtiere were as traditional as the sides at Thanksgiving: pickled beets (store-bought -- we ate them once a year) baked beans (I pimp a can of Campbell’s these days like any traveling pit master) and a big dish of chowchow or piccalilli.
Some fine modern cooks may roll the crust from puff pastry, pate brise or phyllo, for all I know. It's tempting to fiddle with the filling: my mother bought a caribou and cranberry version from a fine charcutier last year. There’s nothing the matter with these tourtieres nouvelles, but they’re the products of professionals with too much time on their hands. Tout le monde understands that a tourtiere is a bland pork pie, encased in pale flaky pastry made with vegetable shortening or lard, cut in with a pastry blender or subjected to the gentle frottage of deux mains.

Last December my daughter Honor called from Los Angeles, mildly bummed by her first balmy Christmas -- there's something so wrong about stringing lights on palm trees. But she made me dictate my mother's tourtiere recipe, so she could duplicate her traditional Christmas Eve dinner for some in-laws. When I asked her how it turned out during our Christmas Day chat, she sounded discouraged.

"Well, it kinda stank. My pastry was hard and tough (too much water, I thought – she’s a novice pastry chef) and it all looked grey and depressing. The crust never got really brown. The beans were good, though."

Well, my tourtiere never browned up nicely either, though decades in the kitchen guarantee me a flaky crust. I was thinking of the box office suicide of Honor's LA tourtiere when I dragged the November/December 1986 issue of "The Pleasures of Cooking" from its hallowed sticky stack. Jehane Benoit, "the Canadian Julia Child" and a medical student in 1920s Paris of Edouard de Pomiane, wrote about "The Night Before Christmas in Quebec." Tourtiere, of course. A golden-crusted beauty. The filling was straightforward: ground pork, grated potato and onion, big pinch of clove. But what rocked me was the pastry recipe: boiling water, baking powder, lemon juice, an egg -- all whizzed about in the Cuisinart along with the salt and the flour. Could it be edible?

Remembering her chapter in Christmas Memories With Recipes (Farrar Strauss Giroux, 1988) I checked out the recipe for the crust. She uses a pastry blender for the crust, and ice water. The leavening is there: baking soda this time, and the lemon juice. She tosses in a quarter teaspoon of savory -- sure, why not? Her method may be conventional in this version but one ingredient sure isn't: "A pinch of turmeric?"

A pinch of turmeric wasn't going to add a whole lot of flavor, so this must have been Mme. Benoit's cagey solution to my daughter's dismal grey dilemma. Genius.

Presented with a pastry recipe as counterintuitive as the one in "Pleasures of Cooking," not to mention a set of whacky ingredients, I decided to push the tourtiere season up a couple of weeks. I had a lovely tub of lard in the fridge (the supermercado down the road renders its owns -- no hydrogenation happening here), a Penzey's a few miles away to provide a fresh stash of savory, and a pound and a half of ground pork.

I prepared the filling and placed it in the freezer to cool. Then I assembled my pastry mise-en-place -- instead of my faithful four ingredients (flour, salt, lard, water), I found I'd acquired ten. I whizzed the dry ingredients in the Cuisinart, then pulsed in two-thirds of the lard. I added the rest of the lard, a teaspoon of lemon juice and a beaten egg to a third of a cup of boiling water and stirred well. Madame said "With the motor running, add to the flour mixture and turn off the motor immediately. The dough will be soft."

It was as shiny and soft as a baby's bottom, if the bottom in question had picked up a faint glisten from a turmeric self-tanner. I diapered it in Glad Wrap and tucked it into the fridge for a four-hour nap.

It rolled out like a dream -- I'd been afraid that its very suppleness would make for a scrappy, pieced together crust. I peeked into the oven after twenty minutes or so: the baking powder was doing its magic and the crust had puffed. When I pulled it from the oven, it glowed like the gams of a Brazilian supermodel.

I nabbed a nibble of the crust while I stirred the beans. Flaky it was not, but I'd known from the get-go that the boiling water would nix all possibility of flakes. Tender and crispy it was, sturdy enough to stand up to the filling and melting on the tongue -- it would be excellent for Cornish pasties or empanadas. Had I not made it myself, the flavor would have seemed mildly mysterious: meaty from the lard, a touch of tin (in a good way!) from the turmeric -- or maybe the lemon -- and savory from the savory.

Merci, chere Mme. Benoit, We from Chicago and the kids from Los Angeles are meeting at my parents' home in Ottawa this Christmas. I'll tote along the recipe with the Christmas presents, so Honor and I can make tourtiere together.

In my childhood neighborhood, every back yard, including ours, was glazed into a skating rink. Every school had a professional set up: lines, boards, center ice. Trois-Rivieres owned the farm team for the Montreal Canadiens; gods like Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau and Boom Boom Geoffrion had walked among us. As their parents partied on, serious boys tested out their new skates, a present from Grandmaman they'd begged to open early. No lights except the stars; no roughing, no slashing, no fighting, no high-sticking.

I like to think that my hoped-for grandchild will place a funky French Canadian pork pie on her Christmas Eve table, next to her paternal grandmother's spring rolls. But what she won't hear is the Christmas morning lullaby that once escorted me to dreamland: no singing, no talking. Just the icy slice of sharp new blades fueled by tourtiere, and the thwack thwack thwack of the puck against the boards.

+ + + + +

Tourtiere Belle Femme

Filling: Marilyn McArthur/Jehane Benoit Hybrid

1-1/2 lbs. ground pork
2 medium potatoes, grated
1 small onion, grated or chopped molecularly fine
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground clove, or to taste
1/2 t savory
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of celery salt
1/2 C water

Combine the ingredients in a medium frying pan and cook for about thirty minutes. Grey the meat, do not brown it. Chunk up the pork with a spatula: you don’t want lumps, you want a fine uniform mix. Stick in the fridge to cool off -- room temperature minimum.

Pastry: Patched from two recipes by Jehane Benoit

2 C all purpose flour
1-1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t celery salt
1/2 t savory
1-1/2 t lemon juice
1/4 t turmeric
1 large egg, beaten
5-1/3 oz (150 g) lard, cut into pieces
1/2 C boiling water

In a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients, herbs and spices until combined. Add 2/3 of the lard and pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs -- about 8 pulses. Add the remaining lard to the boiling water off the stove -- stir until melted. Beat in the lemon juice and egg. With the motor running, add to the flour mixture and turn off immediately. Knead briefly on a floured surface, wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours.

Roll out the bottom crust in a standard pie pan, preferably Pyrex. Smooth in the pork filling, spread the top crust thereon. Slash, decorate, and bake in a 350 oven for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove when the pastry is puffed slightly, golden and crispy. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Joyeux Noel.

* * *

Margaret McArthur, aka maggiethecat, is host and Dark Lady of the Daily Gullet Competition forum. She writes, cooks and tends her garden near Chicago.

#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 11:15 AM

Great piece, Maggie, as always.

Your pie reminds me of rappie pie, an Acadian dish that my dad's family from Nova Scotia makes at family gatherings. (Click here for a brief discussion.) Unfortunately, I've tended to have them during summertime reunions, when they're not exactly picnic fare. Your piece encourages me to try out your tourtiere and, perhaps, even a version of rappie pie, when it's brutally cold outside.
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#3 Brasco66

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 11:29 AM

Thanks Maggie....great article. As a newbie to egullet I really like your prose. Every Canadian kid can relate to the one inch between the boot and snow pant and that nasty shark bite! I have had this dish before but have never made it myself. That will change this year as I will definetley be making the tourtiere.

Merry Christmas!
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#4 Carrot Top

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 03:12 PM

I miss Woolworth, though the last one I remember was on Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn, which was a Place Unto Itself entirely. A super-Woolworth of sorts. Two floors even, with an escalator. And with quite an exciting lunch counter.

I miss the end of winter with a shallow brook hidden in the barren woods out behind the house, where the ice would start to crack into small floes that were just large enough for a not-too-large child to climb onto and try to balance while pushing oneself along down the "river" with a broken tree limb, thinking either of Wind in the Willows or maybe punting on the Thames. . . :biggrin: (Always, always, soaked ice-cold feet encased in dreary wadded socks as the boots would never be quite tall enough to keep out the water when one fell into it. . .!)

And I stray dangerously close to sacrilege, as my tourtieres are made all enclosed in a (toothsome to me) cream cheese pastry.

Very nice story, Maggie, with its sense of a chill world outside, a warm hearth inside.

A Joyeux Noel to you, too. :smile:

#5 Domestic Goddess

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 04:58 PM

Wonderful story and recipe. Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed t. I might try your tourtiere pie soon.

Maligayang Pasko.
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#6 racheld

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 11:47 AM

What a lovely taste of far-away, especially for a Hot-Christmas child who also spent swaying, knee-knock hours in Woolworth's, gazing longingly at the glitter-stars of unattainable glory. Sprigs of pine, pressed a little higher than the paper, and the green not-quite-hitting the marks, were the usual settle-for for parents, Grands, teacher, etc.

I've always loved the IDEA of the late-night church-going, the return from Mass to a festive table, the candle-lit crunch through the midnight snow---try conjuring any of THAT from a sixty-degree, adamantly-green, all-Baptist small town, whose sidewalks were barely extant in the daytime, and whose parental insistence on just-dark bedtime on Christmas Eve precluded anything but the most brief of suppers. Midnight awakenings, perhaps, but only for breath-held listenings and squintings for that first chink of releasing daylight.

And I love the recipe, the reasons, the history---I've been meaning to make one for months, since I read Lucy's how-to and commentary, and have also been murmuring the name from time to time, tasting the savory syllables on my lips in lieu of the actual WORK of the thing. I have the squatty pan, the recipe, the several alternatives for the pastry.

This short season is already reserved for almost every moment, with guests, meals, celebrations, more guests, a long whirlwind trip for four-generation visits down South. Iron-cold January will be the season to visit the local mercado for lard, to sift the flour, measure the salt, and get my chilly fingers into that malleable mass. Pickled beets, I have. Showboat beans, to lace with onion, brown sugar, bacon. Chowchow, as much a staple as coffee and salt. And some snowfly night, Chris will come home to a Maggie-meal, I promise---more to myself than to you, I think.

Your words were an unexpected treat this morning. Thank you for the early gift.
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
Fairy Tea

My Blog--Thanksgiving and Goodwill

LAWN TEA

#7 Worldly

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 03:03 PM

Thanks for the post! My Grandmother was a Woolworth chef for years!

There isn't a recipe for tortiere, but you might find this short set of 18th c. French Canadian recipies of interest, by way of Food Timeline

http://fortress.uccb...et/recipes.html

#8 JasonZ

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 02:05 PM

Maggie, only your recipes were prose ... the rest was sheer poetry!

... and the comments from others were equally eloquent ... you helped open a font of memories.

Thanks all for sharing and joyeaux Noel to all!

Regards,

JasonZ
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#9 chromedome

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 01:01 PM

A pleasure to read as always, Maggie.

I've been churning out tourtiere filling in 20kg batches for my work, ever since the weather got cold. Our head office chef's recipe is a little different from the ones you cite: three parts ground pork to one of beef (no oats or potatoes), onions in big chunks, and the seasonings restricted to salt, pepper, and an utterly unreasonable quantity of allspice. It's very different from the ones you've cited, but it's exactly the way his own grand-mere made it; and several customers have told me that it's the first "boughten" tourtiere they've had that tasted like the ones back home.

Of course, it's one of those dishes...every farmwife had her own version.

Chris, rappie pie is somewhat heavier on the grated potato than a tourtiere would be, but they exist at different points on the same continuum (what part of NS did your family come from? I'm a Bluenoser myself...).
Fat=flavor

#10 ckruse

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 06:38 PM

What a lovely taste of far-away, especially for a Hot-Christmas child who also spent swaying, knee-knock hours in Woolworth's, gazing longingly at the glitter-stars of unattainable glory.  Sprigs of pine, pressed a little higher than the paper, and the green not-quite-hitting the marks, were the usual settle-for for parents, Grands, teacher, etc. 

I've always loved the IDEA of the late-night church-going, the return from Mass to a festive table, the candle-lit crunch through the midnight snow---try conjuring any of THAT from a sixty-degree, adamantly-green, all-Baptist small town, whose sidewalks were barely extant in the daytime, and whose parental insistence on just-dark bedtime on Christmas Eve precluded anything but the most brief of suppers.  Midnight awakenings, perhaps, but only for breath-held listenings and squintings for that first chink of releasing daylight.

And I love the recipe, the reasons, the history---I've been meaning to make one for months, since I read Lucy's how-to and commentary, and have also been murmuring the name from time to time, tasting the savory syllables on my lips in lieu of the actual WORK of the thing.  I have the squatty pan, the recipe, the several alternatives for the pastry. 

This short season is already reserved for almost every moment, with guests, meals, celebrations, more guests, a long whirlwind trip for four-generation visits down South.    Iron-cold January will be the season to visit the local mercado for lard, to sift the flour, measure the salt, and get my chilly fingers into that malleable mass.  Pickled beets, I have.  Showboat beans, to lace with onion, brown sugar, bacon.  Chowchow, as much a staple as coffee and salt.  And some snowfly night, Chris will come home to a Maggie-meal, I promise---more to myself than to you, I think.

Your words were an unexpected treat this morning.  Thank you for the early gift.

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I will be having some tourtiere tommorow. We always topped our with a relish made out of pickled green tomatoes.

#11 racheld

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 08:00 PM

I will be having some tourtiere tommorow.  We always topped our with a relish made out of pickled green tomatoes.

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Got those, too---sweet or salty/sour?
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
Fairy Tea

My Blog--Thanksgiving and Goodwill

LAWN TEA

#12 iharrison

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 01:15 PM

The author of A Taste of Quebec is Julian Armstrong - not Gillian. Just want to correct that.

For a great tourtiere recipe, check out the Au Pied de Cochon cookbook by Martin Picard.

#13 Catherine Iino

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 09:08 AM

Thank you, Maggie. When I was about twelve years old (a long time ago), my family visited Quebec (we lived in the NYC suburbs). The tourtiere I ate there, at a restaurant on the Ile d'Orleans, belongs in the "You first knew you were a foodie when . . . " column; it was such a revelation. I recall it being served with a homemade ketchup, which was chunky--maybe with green tomatoes? I've tried a few times to recreate it, but it has never lived up to the memory. Probably nothing could, but I'll try your recipe.

Merry Christmas!

#14 ckruse

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 11:27 AM

I will be having some tourtiere tommorow.  We always topped our with a relish made out of pickled green tomatoes.

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Got those, too---sweet or salty/sour?

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bit of both

#15 ivy

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 01:35 PM

Maggie,
That was a beautiful read. The final paragraph brought a tear to my eye the way only nostalgic thoughts on boys playing hockey in the open air can do.
There's no snow in Toronto and your piece made me feel more Christmas-y than I have all weekend.

My grandmaman made us an early Christmas Acadian feast that included some fantastic tortiere, along with many other Quebecois favourites. You can read about it at http://gremolata.com/acadianfeast.htm

Joyeux Noel,
Ivy

#16 ivy

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 01:54 PM

I loved the line "it glowed like the gams of a Brazilian upermodel". Hilarious.

#17 MsAzadi

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 01:54 PM

That is a lovely story Maggie, and incentive for me to try a tourtiere in the New Year. I was an exchange student in Quebec City years and years ago, but only in the summer so I've never actually eaten this.

I have another cooking friend who shows us her pictures of tourtiere every year, and I vow to make one in the hopefully cold months ahead.

#18 racheld

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 10:06 PM

Over on the Dinner Thread, Ann T has a GORGEOUS pair of golden-brown beauties all laid out like a Christmas card---Post #18374.

I told her you'd be PROUD, Maggie.
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
Fairy Tea

My Blog--Thanksgiving and Goodwill

LAWN TEA

#19 maggiethecat

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 04:29 PM

I'm back from Canada, to this wonderful bouquet of posts. Ann T could almost pass for Quebecoise , so lovely are her tourtieres.

My mother was in the hospital for our entire stay -- she got sprung the day we left. No Marilyn McArthur tourtiere, but she'd laid in a couple of the caribou/cranberry variety from Les Fougeres, across the river in Quebec, along with the Les F 12 buck beans, worth every cent. We had the best time we could without her, the Queen of Christmas.

Tourtiere is a great funky New Year's Eve dish as well, lolling on the sideboard amidst your sushi and sous vide. There's nothing about it not to love.

Margaret McArthur

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#20 MargyB

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 08:31 PM

The author of A Taste of Quebec is Julian Armstrong - not Gillian. Just want to correct that.

For a great tourtiere recipe, check out the Au Pied de Cochon cookbook by Martin Picard.

View Post



That's a challenge for us in the US! It's not yet available here. I was able to order it from a Canadian site, but it's out of stock and won't be available until February. It looks very good....but it's pretty pricey. It ended up being over $70....ouch!

Margy

#21 Chocolatesa

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 11:23 AM

"carb-and-pork antifreeze"!! This one had me laughing :) I've been making tourtieres every Christmas with my parents from my grandmother's recipe for as long as I can remember and have never come across such a description. My grandmother's recipe has a mix of equal parts ground veal, pork and beef, with minced onions and breadcrumbs, and the trio of allspice-clove-nutmeg and some salt and pepper for seasoning as the filling. The crust is all purpose flour, salt, lard, an egg, and the special ingredient: vinegar. The vinegar gives it a flavour that I coveted as a kid and still do, I always eat bits of the raw dough as the tourtieres are being made and do my best (despite my mother's usual (unfounded) chiding that I'll get a stomache ache and my dad complaining that there won't be enough dough left over to make some pets de soeurs) to stash away a nice tennis or baseball-sized ball of raw dough in the fridge to indulge in later. I feel like making some this weekend :)
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Everything that's wonderful is what I eat when, we're together"

#22 Chocolatesa

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 05:49 PM

Fond memories: Tourtieres and Pets de Soeurs
"Sunshine, Lollipops, and Bacon
Everything that's wonderful is what I eat when, we're together"

#23 technogypsy

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 09:20 AM

My dad always made his from venison, wild pork, and mushrooms. I always loved it cold the next day.
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#24 maggiethecat

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 12:04 PM

Technogypsy: That venison/wild mushroom version sounds incredible. Chocolatesa: I'm adding vinegar next time.

Margaret McArthur

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#25 heidih

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 02:18 PM

I was surprised on moving day when the neighborhood kids were reminiscing about the things they would miss. They brought up the tourtiere that the neighbor across the street gifted us with last Christmas. Sunny Southern California was having balmy weather and I only had a small taste. The pie disappeared overnight. I thought the ravenous teens were just desperate. Hearing their fond memories made me wish I had paid closer attention. The tourtiere had minced pork and also vension as I recall from the description. The potatoes were in small chunks and the spicing was subtle. He mentioned that he was going to add some wild duck that his brother had hunted in this year's version.

#26 Dove

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Posted 24 December 2009 - 07:16 PM

Well, it's 3 years since this article was posted, but I just read it today and enjoyed it thoroughly. I want to mention that my mother's tourtiere was always made with ground up leftover roast pork and that's how I make it, too. The seasoning is the same as yours. I think it's the French Canadian equivalent of roast beef hash. My mother always made her pastry with lard, never vegetable shortening. Her father's family came to Quebec in the 17th century and her father was the cook in the hotel that he owned in northern Ontario, near the Quebec border. I might try making it with raw pork to see how it tastes.
I grew up in Northern Ontario and it sure was cold. I remember the northern lights which we saw in brief snatches because of the weather, and the snow plowed so high that we all had to shovel a path from the street to our front doors. That was over 60 years ago and my mother always said that it wasn't as cold as it used to be and there wasn't as much snow. But it was plenty cold for me!
Many thanks for writing this article.

#27 LindaK

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 06:06 PM

What an appropriate story for these frigid December days at year's end 2009. I missed this when it first appeared but am thankful that it was bumped up again. Beautiful writing, Maggie.

Tourtiere has always been one of the great culinary mysteries/temptations for many of us here in the U.S. It reads like a delicious way to harden one's arteries tout de suite.


 


#28 maggiethecat

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 06:45 PM

I'm so touched by the recent replies. Thanks, all.

The very best part of Christmas Eve this year was (again) coaching my daughter through her Los Angeles Tourtiere. She called so often I answered the phone "Tourtiere Hotline!" and I don't have caller ID. I'm delighted to report that this year's LA tourtiere was spectacular -- we shared a peek via video chat. In fact, it looked better than mine. (She had three guests for dinner and the whole thing went. Her sweet but picky six year old niece ate two pieces.) So the Tourtiere heritage continues...

I love hearing about all the variations!

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com


#29 technogypsy

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 10:42 AM

Wow. We are making ours for New Year's this year and I've got to try that crust. I use a pretty traditional crust recipe and don't normally see any problems with color/flakiness but this is really different.

I already got the venison, feral hog, and buffalo thawing and after this, I can't wait.
"Drop it in a bucket. If it stays, grill it. If it climbs out, deep fry it" Cajun recipe.

#30 maggiethecat

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 11:52 AM

I was going through some picture files today and discovered that I'd taken a photo of this year's tourtiere and trimmimgs.

Attached Files


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com