The tourtière is a meat pie that is tradition around the holidays in French-Canadian families. It is usually made with pork, although other meats can be used too. This year I was invited by my future mother-in-law Viv to join her and my future sister-in-law Nic for a day of tourtière making. I, of course, jumped at the chance, as it’s dish I’ve gotten to know and love. Plus, I felt this was a kind of a (friendly and loving) initiation into their big French family.
They follow a family recipe from an old family cookbook, which I am fortunate to have a copy of. Unfortunately I cannot give the family recipe away, but I found this one that is similar, give or take a few ingredients and tricks of the (family) trade. I highly suggest following the recipe for Really Flaky Pastry that’s included because like in most pies, the crust really is the key.
This year there were 6 pairs of hands on deck. Viv, Nic, and Nic’s mother and sister-in-law plus one of their cousins so it really was a family affair. We were going to make as much tourtières as 16 lbs of ground pork could make.
First we made the dough and let it sit for an hour. I jumped right in and made a batch of dough.
While the dough sat, we cooked the pork. A few things were added but mostly it was just the ground pork.
Next, is where the meat filling gets all its flavour so I paid close attention. All the remaining ingredients, herbs and spices are mixed together at this point.
The job of rolling out the pastry dough was left to the experienced pros. Dough is not my forte, and even with their skilled hands, the ladies on dough duty worked hard to get the dough just right. Good thing we didn’t label who had made which batch of dough! (It may or may not have been my batch of dough that was hard to handle.)
The pie dough gets filled with the meat mixture and the top crust get some steam vents cut into it and gets placed on top. Then we placed them in ziplock bags to freeze.
We took a break halfway and popped two of the pies in the oven for lunch. With six pairs of hands, it took a lot less time this year (so I was told). We made 25 9″ pies altogether, most which will get frozen to be eaten during the cold winter months, and of course at Christmas dinner (two special Christmas 13″ dinner-sized pies were made for this).
I am so touched and happy I was invited to be a part of this day. I will appreciate my tourtière even more the next time I eat one. I may even attempt making one on my own this winter. Maybe. Or maybe I should teach them to make pupusas next.