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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.


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.


Pressure cooker chicken ramen

Pressure cooker chicken ramen

A good bowl of ramen is a three-part experience for me: a filing and satisfying meal, an emotional restorative, and a pork-scented steam facial. I have been lucky enough to live in Vancouver, a city with a ramen district housing at least ten different tiny restaurants serving incredible ramen, as well as a scattering of other shops throughout the city. The proximity to Japan and Vancouver’s large Asian population keeps these ramen shops up to date and authentic. Well, let’s use authentic loosely, as ramen has been a bit of a mash-up since the beginning.

Now that I live in a small town in Germany, a good bowl of fresh ramen is only going to happen if I make it. So, of course, I had to try. I took as inspiration my favourite Vancouver ramen: the Tori Shio at Benkei Noodle Shop. This is pretty lightweight when it comes to ramen: a chicken broth as opposed to fatty pork, lean slices of chicken breast, spinach, a smattering of corn, and the noodles. But it’s my favourite. So my at-home version is chicken-based too, and uses ingredients you can find in most big grocery stores.

I often make dinners with how I’ll use the leftovers in the back of my mind, and generally this means they’re going into my ramen. Roasted root vegetables, brussel sprouts, fried onions – these are all good. This is a favourite post-roast chicken meal. My [amazon_link id=”B00FLYWNYQ” target=”_blank” ]Instant Pot[/amazon_link] is my best friend here – it makes generating both the broth and the ramen-style soft-boiled egg super quick.

Ramen broth

  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 4 litres of water
  • 5 slices of fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • 2 tbsp mirin

Pressure cooker instructions

  1. Put chicken carcass, water, ginger, garlic, and mirin in your pressure cooker, set for 90 minutes on high pressure.
  2. Use quick release, open your pressure cooker and strain out the bones and other bits. Jar up your broth and refrigerate, or set aside.

Slow cooker or stovetop directions

  1. Put chicken carcass, water, ginger, garlic, and mirin in a large pot, and put on medium high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let it go for as long as possible – four hours is ideal. If using a slow cooker, set to 8 hours on low.
  2. Strain and bottle up, refrigerate or set side to use immediately.


Make your ramen

  • 1 litre of ramen broth
  • 2 packages of ramen noodles, sauce and broth packets discarded
  • Salt to taste

Toppings, any or all of the following

  1. Bring the ramen broth to a boil, and then add the noodles, following cooking directions. Pull the noodles out with tongs into big bowls, then divide the broth between the bowls.
  2. Add your toppings, slice ramen egg in half before placing on top of noodles if using.

Recipe note: I don’t add salt to my broth as I’m using a carcass from a roast chicken I’ve made myself which I salt generously. I like adding salt to my ramen right before serving so I can really taste it. Feel free to add salt to the process wherever you want though. 



Grilled sprouts with lemon and parmesan

Grilled sprouts with lemon and parmesan

grilled sprouts txt

I have an obsession with the crispy brussel sprouts with lemon, parmesan and capers from the wine bar around the corner from our place. A dish of those, their bone marrow cheese toast, and a glass of Viognier is just perfect in my book.


I have tried to recreate this dish at home, but the deep frying requires equipment I don’t have. I don’t have pots big enough, it uses too much oil, the smoke alarm goes off – you get the idea. But I thought that maybe I could get some of that lovely crispiness from grilling the sprouts. After a useful lesson in making chicken souvlaki from Cooks Illustrated in which you don’t do much to the chicken beforehand, but dump it in an olive oil dressing directly after coming off the grill, I decided to do the same with my brussel sprouts. It doesn’t quite have the same heavenly richness as the Flying Pig version, but that just gives me an excuse to go back…

grilled sprouts 2

Grilled Sprouts with lemon and parmesan

  • A quantity of brussel sprouts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Heat and oil your grill.
  2. Slice off the base of each sprout, then slice in half. Thread them on skewers, with flat halves all facing the same way. You’ll need quite robust skewers for this, my sharp metal ones came in handy here.
  3. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and salt together in a bowl just big enough to hold your sprouts. Taste, and adjust salt and lemon as needed.
  4. Adjust grill heat to medium. Brush sprouts with oil, place on the grill, turning occasionally. You want grill marks, but they go from nicely marked to decidedly burnt quite quickly. There’s no harm in flipping them often, thankfully.
  5. Remove the sprouts from the grill when just starting to become tender (poke with a knife). Using hot mitts and tongs, remove the sprouts from the skewers directly into the dressing and toss. Sprinkle with parmesan and toss again. Serve immediately.

grilled sprouts1


Baked parmesan-crusted chicken

Baked parmesan-crusted chicken

Ricardo: Parmesan-crusted chicken

As much as I enjoy cooking magazines like Olive, delicious., Cooks Ilustrated, and Cooking Light, I often crave a local Canadian option. There’s Canadian Living and… well, not much else. I discovered Ricardo last winter, and I’ve been quite impressed with their recipes. When they asked me to try out one of their chicken recipes and I had chicken breasts in the fridge defrosting that very day, I figured it was fate.

I picked the Parmesan-crusted Chicken, because anything involving panko and parmesan is a usually a hit with my family. This dish is a nice alternative to the full job of coating and frying that panko coating usually involves. Instead, the chicken breasts are roasted in sour cream and whole-grain mustard, with the panko and parmesan mixture on top. I quickly brined my chicken breasts in a mixture of salt and sugar water for about 10 minutes beforehand, because I find that cut needs it. I have to say, the sour cream really helps with that as well though, as well as giving the chicken a tangy flavour.

I think this is my husband’s new favourite. Which is fine with me, as this recipe is really easy to pull together on short notice.

Check out the full recipe for Parmesan-crusted Chicken, as well as a huge selection of other chicken recipes from Ricardo magazine.



Rhubarb soda with mint

Rhubarb soda with mint

rhubarb soda

The rhubarb always surprises me. It seems to go from tiny little green shoots to full-fledged leafy green monster overnight. In our communal rooftop garden, luckily I seem to be one of a few who harvests those ruby stalks, but you should be able to find it at your local farmers market or good grocery stores.

Rhubarb syrup is simple to make – minimal chopping and little cooking. It’s an incredible pink colour, and looks amazing on ice cream, swirled in yoghurt – instant pink joy!

Rhubarb syrup
makes approximately 2 cups

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups rhubarb stems, chopped into rough 3-cm chunks

  1. Put sugar and water on to boil over high heat in a large pot (the rhubarb will foam, so you need room).
  2. Once boiling, add your chopped rhubarb and boil for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool completely.
  3. Decant into a clean jar, store in the fridge.


Rhubarb soda with mint
makes one

Soda water
Rhubarb syrup
Fresh mint leaves, washed

  1. Add ice to a highball glass. Tear several mint leaves into small pieces and sprinkle over ice.
  2. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the rhubarb syrup, and top up glass with soda water, adjust sweetness to taste by adding more syrup.
  3. Slice strawberry in half and tuck down in the glass just below surface of the liquid. Sprinkle a few more pieces of mint, or a few whole leaves. Enjoy!