Tourtière: the Glorious Canadian Meat Pie

Tourtière: the Glorious Canadian Meat Pie

As a Canadian living abroad, I’m sometimes called upon to provide a meal from the old country. Even though the last city I called home in Canada was Vancouver, and about as far from French Canada as you can get, I still have a special place in my heart for that clove-scented meat pie from my childhood. I did grow up in small village close to the Quebec border, and my mum is from Montreal, so we did have tourtière when I was small.

It’s generally thought to have been made since about 1600, but to be honest, the meat pie is a typical medieval dish – small pieces of meat, together with vegetables in a pastry crust was found all over Europe. Like those medieval pies, tourtières take advantage of whatever meat is fresh and available. For French settlers in Quebec, that would have been pork, veal, beef, or game meat. The pies I had growing up tended to be all pork, and the dominate seasoning was cloves – from my reading I now understand that to be Montreal-specific, which makes sense.

Mmm.. homemade tourtière.

The most recent tourtière I made here in Germany was a pork and beef mixture, with the addition of summer savoury as per the recipe in [amazon_link id=”0997660848″ target=”_blank” ]More Than Poutine, Marie Porter’s book of Canadian recipes for those of looking to recreate some of our favourite things from home[/amazon_link]. The summer savoury makes sense as Porter is from Winnipeg, and that’s a very Manitoban addition.

Marie Porter's cookbook for Canadians abroad, looking to recreate some favourites.

Marie Porter’s cookbook for Canadians abroad, looking to recreate some favourites.

If you’re looking to recreate your favourite Canadian chocolate bars or bakery treats (*cough*Jos Louis), this is a handy book to have. However, if you’re from the west coast, like I am (at least partially) a lot of these recipes may not seem familiar. Atlantic Canadians, however, will rejoice I suspect!

Regardless, I am happy to have this easy tourtière recipe. As with most meat pies, tourtière is excellent eaten warm or cold, and makes an excellent addition to any picnic. I personally eat mine with thick slices of sweet and sour German pickles, but it’s great all on its own too.

Tourtière

Recipe courtesy of [amazon_link id=”0997660848″ target=”_blank” ]Marie Porter’s More Than Just Poutine: Favourite Foods from my Home and Native Land[/amazon_link]

I added allspice in deference to my Jamaican Canadian heritage, but feel free to leave it out if you don’t have it. Never ever leave out the cloves however! I added half the milk and stock noted below in the recipe and found it almost too moist, so I would suggest add half and see how the filling goes, add more if it looks dry.

Serves about 8 

500g /1 lb ground pork

500g /1 lb ground beef

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 celery ribs, finely chopped

2 carrots, grated

125ml / 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

1-2 tbsp / 15-30ml dried summer savoury

1/2 tsp ground allspice [my editorial addition]

2-3 tsp / 10-15ml ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 tsp / 5ml salt

1/4 tsp / 1ml ground cloves

2 cups / 500ml milk (see headnotes)

1 1/2 cups / 375ml beef or chicken stock (see headnotes)

2 pre-made pie crusts, or double pie crust recipe of choice, prepared

1 large egg

1 tbsp / 14ml cold water

  1. Combine meats, vegetables, and seasonings together in a large pan or pot, stirring until everything is relatively uniform. Add the milk and the broth, stirring once again. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer – stirring often – until the liquid has cooked off, and the meat has broken down almost to a paste. This should take about an hour, give or take. Once it’s ready, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 220ºC/425ºF.
  3. Line a deep dish pie pan with one pie crust, carefully working it into the corners. Fill pie pan with meat filling, spreading it into the corners and mounding it in the center.
  4. Use the second pie crust to cover the filling. Crimp the edges as desired, poke a couple of slits in it. If desired, roll any extra dough very thin, cut into shapes, and apply to the crust for decoration. Whisk together egg and water, brush over the entire top of the pie.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, turn heat down to 190ºC/375ºF and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Serve warm or cold.

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Travelling to Germany: Books to Get You in the Mood

Travelling to Germany: Books to Get You in the Mood

Before I travel somewhere (or move there!), I like to get myself in the mood, atmospherically. This may seem excessive to some, but I read a lot, so transitioning my reading list to focus more on where I’m going adds a lot to my trip.

I have a few history books in my list, but not guidebooks. This is all about getting the feel for a place.

[amazon_image id=”B00358VI2I” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Treasure Chest: Unexpected Reunion and Other Stories (Penguin Classics)[/amazon_image]

The Treasure Chest, Johann Peter Hebel

Imagine Reader’s Digest-type stories from the early 19th century, but all centred on the southwest corner of Germany. The Treasure Chest is a collection of Hebel’s fables originally written to accompany a Lutheran calendar sold in the region. Some are funny, some are clearly meant to impart a moral, and some are just ridiculous, but it’s an easy read that brings to life some of these Black Forest villages you see out the train window.

[amazon_image id=”B00LGUF0F8″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Red Love: The Story of an East German Family[/amazon_image]

 
Red Love: The Story of an East German Family, Maxim Leo

This is a very personal story of East Germany, and how different family members managed their relationship to the state. The author digs back in his own family’s history to pull apart the narratives of his socialist hero grandfather, his journalist mother, and his artist father. It’s the first book I’ve read that really conveys the feeling of building a new world that infused the early days of the GDR after the war, and it’s fascinating to watch it go to pieces through the prism of these small stories.

[amazon_image id=”014044503X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Sorrows of Young Werther[/amazon_image]

The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You’re going to Germany, you have to read some Goethe. I kind of love Young Werther for all its moping around, hand-on-forehead draping moodiness. The landscape descriptions are lovely, and give you a real sense of the pastoral scenes Germans of the 18th century were so enamoured with. Goethe loved the ruins of my local schloss in Heidelberg, so I admit I have a fondness for him no matter what.

[amazon_image id=”0006511260″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Royal Flash (The Flashman Papers, Book 2)[/amazon_image]

Royal Flash, George MacDonald Fraser

Now I recommend Flashman books with a very huge caveat, which is that while they are enjoyable to a certain extent, the average woman’s role in these books is terrible. Fraser wrote the screenplay for Octopussy, so that should give you an idea of what I’m trying to get at. However, this one covers Flashman’s mixup with Bismarck and delves into some interesting North German and Danish history.

[amazon_image id=”0312680686″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of Germans and Their History[/amazon_image]

Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and their History, Simon Winder

This rambling sort-of history is a good overview of the different regions in Germany, and some of the history that makes the country what it is today. I found the author’s occasionally smug, self-important Britishness a bit much sometimes, but he is quite funny. It’s clear, particularly by the end of the book, that he has a great fondness for the country.

[amazon_image id=”0746098545″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Illustrated Grimm’s Fairy Tales[/amazon_image]

Illustrated Grimm’s Fairy Tales

This one is a great for kids coming along on a German adventure. The Brothers Grimm collected folklore in the early 19th century, and grew up in southwestern Germany. They were influenced by Johann Peter Hebel’s stories, and you can see the parallels in their description of little villages, naughty cobblers, recalcitrant blacksmiths, and so on.

I’ve made you a lovely image, so you can pin this post for later.

Germany Book collage

*This post contains affiliate links, for which I get a small percentage if you click on one and buy something, at no cost to you. I thank you for helping to support this blog.

 

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