from The Artful Pie Project
Tourtière a rustic meat pie, is a sentimental favourite. My beloved French-Canadian aunt Aline used to make tourtière whenever my family and I visited her in Montreal.
Customarily served after Midnight Mass 0on Christmas Eve, tourtière is a Quebecois tradition. My father recalled travelling with his siblings by horse and sleigh through the midnight snow as a child in Gaspe – anticipating tourtière all the way home from church.
Today, some families serve it year-round, often with a side of ketchup, while others reserve it for special occasions. My French-Canadian husband, Claude, would eat it every day if offered.
Each family has their own rendition – some including wild game. My version includes ground pork, chicken (or beef) and meltingly tender duck confit (seasoned duck legs slowly poached in fat). Duck confit is available in the freezer section of well-stocked grocers and specialty delicatessens.
Serve tourtière with Red Onion Relish. Or, just pass the ketchup.
Yield: Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) deep-dish-pie & 2 cups relish
Special Equipment: Deep-dish pie plate (9 ½ inches/24 cm in diameter and 2 inches/5 cm deep). If you don’t have a deep-dish pie plate, use a standard 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate or 8-inch (20 cm) cake pan instead. You’ll have enough leftover filling/pastry for a mini pie.
Homemade pastry (pg 32) or store bought – divided into 2 portions
1 large egg, lightly beaten, for brushing the pastry and more as needed
2 Tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
2 large onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp (45 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock, preferably homemade (pg 306)
1 lb (450 g) lean ground pork
1 lb (450 g) ground chicken or beef (do not use turkey breast, it’s too dry)
1 cup (250 mL) diced new potatoes, such as red, white or Yukon Gold (about 1 medium potato), cut into ½ inch (1 cm) cubes as uniformly as possible
2 ½ tsp (12.5 mL) kosher salt, or 2 tsp (10 mL) table salt + more as needed
¾ tsp (4 mL) ground nutmeg + more as needed
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cloves + more as needed
½ tsp (2.5 mL) ground black pepper
2 duck confit legs, shredded meat only, skin removed
3 Tbsp (45 mL) breadcrumbs
Red Onion Relish:
2 Tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
2 ½ cups (625 mL) sliced red onion (about 2-5 onions)
½ tsp (2.5 mL) kosher salt
½ cup (125 mL) red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) honey
Prepare the pastry and place one portion of dough onto a sheet of parchment paper dusted with flour. Layer a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough and roll (over the plastic) from the centre toward the pastry’s edge in all directions until about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Remove the plastic and cut a circle approximately 11 ½ inches (29 cm) in diameter and 1/8 (3 mm) thick for your pastry top. Transfer to a plate or tray lined with parchment and dusted with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes.
Place the remaining portion of dough on a sheet of parchment paper dusted with flour. Roll into a circle approximately 14 inches (36 cm) in diameter and 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Drape the dough onto your rolling pin and transfer it to the pie (or cake) plate, being mindful not to pull or stretch the dough. Gently press the dough into the sides of the pie plate and trim the edges. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook the onions until they start to brown. Add the garlic and cook until just aromatic, about 20 seconds. Add the flour and stir continuously for about a minute, then add the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan as you do. Add the pork, chicken (or beef), potatoes, salt and spices and mix thoroughly.
Cook over medium heat, partially covered, until the potatoes are just done and the meat is cooked through, about 20 minutes. The amount of liquid will vary depending on the meat used. The filling is meant to be moist, but if the liquid seems excessive, tilt the pan and use a spoon to discard a few tablespoons.
Add the shredded duck confit to the meat mixture and stir to combine. Taste to check the seasoning and add additional salt, nutmeg or cloves, if desired. Cool the mixture completely.
Putting it all Together:
Retrieve the dough-lined pie (or cake) plate and scatter the pastry base with breadcrumbs. Top with the divided, cooled meat mixture. Brush the rim of the exposed pastry with beaten egg.
Drape the pastry top over a rolling pin and transfer to the filled pie, loosely covering the filling. Pinch the edges together with your fingers. Cover with plastic wrap and firm in the fridge, or freezer, for 20 minutes.
Preheat a foil- or parchment-lined baking tray in a 425F (220C) oven.
Retrieve the tourtiere, cut vents into the pastry lid and brush the top with additional beaten egg. Transfer to the preheated tray and bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375F (190C) and continue to bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and a knife inserted into the centre comes out warm. Rotate the baking tray once during baking and tent with foil as necessary to prevent burning.
Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving.
Tourtiere can be assembled and frozen (unbaked) up to 2 months. Bake the frozen tourtiere, without thawing, as per the instructions above, or until the pastry is golden and a knife inserted into the centre comes out warm.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion slices, turning them with a wooden spoon to coat them evenly. Add the salt and cook until the onions soften, about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Stir in the vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan as you do so. Add the honey, reduce the heat and continue simmering until the liquid has evaporated.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Nada’s Tips & Tricks: My French-Canadian son-in-law loved this recipe – and he’s eaten a lot of tourtière pies. The confit makes the difference. And the relish is a nice alternative to ketchup! I put the leftover filling into tart shells and used them as appetizers – eaten within minutes. You can also make it into a meatloaf or the basis for Bolognese sauce.
Cover image and Tourtière with Duck Confit recipe and photographs printed with permission from Whitecap Books Ltd. https://www.whitecap.ca/Detail/1770503609