A Canadian Christmas Tradition: Tourtière Recipe

It’s Saturday, but we’re not talking sweets today – if you need a sweet fix, check out the recent Chocolate Pomegranate Bark or less recent Forget Me Cookies - both are close to my sweet-loving heart :)

Today’s savoury recipe is a part of the Canadian Food Experience Project, a movement spearheaded by the most charming Valerie, aka A Canadian Foodie.  As we (participants) share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity – maybe it won’t ever be as iconic and delineated as we view Mexican or Thai or Indian food, but it’s bound to be delicious, especially when there’s meat pie involved.

Tourtiere: traditional French Canadian meat pie that we've adopted as our own :) | www.hiddenponies.com

Tourtière is my family’s traditional Christmas Eve meal.  It is also a traditional French Canadian Christmas Eve dinner.  Let me clarify:  I am not French Canadian.  Like many Canadians, I have immigrant roots, in my case equal parts Dutch and British.  However, my Mom loved the idea of this French Canadian tradition and adopted it for our family, a tradition I’m trying to carry on now that I have a family of my own.  It’s not always easy because a) I have to remember, and b) I have to start at least a day early so the filling mixture has time for the flavours to blend.

When she was here last year, I let her carry on the tradition in my home – how generous of me, right? ;)

Tourtiere making

Tourtiere: traditional French Canadian meat pie that we've adopted as our own :) | www.hiddenponies.com

Tourtière is simply a fabulous savoury meat pie.  My husband loves meat pie, and somehow Christmas Eve is the only time of year I make it.  The list of ingredients looks long, but it’s very simple and the flavour is distinctive and well worth any amount of effort.  It’s hearty and meat-packed, with a flaky, buttery pie crust on the top and bottom.  The recipe can easily be multiplied to feed a crowd.  These two pies fed about a dozen of us last year.

Tourtiere making!

The smell of this mixture cooking is the essence of tradition – the distinctive comforting warmth of the smell is pork cooking with mushrooms, thyme, cinnamon, and cloves.  I think it’s the cinnamon and cloves that do it – as soon as I smell this mixture it takes me back to many a Christmas Eve tourtière in my past.

While the smell and flavour are unique and, for me, full of reminiscence and associations, they aren’t difficult to love.  The flavours are ultimately simple and comforting, and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand often.  This is perfect in my favourite basic sour cream pie crust, or you can buy crusts to make it even easier.  The filling mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance, as can the pie crust dough, which makes it really convenient for a busy week when you want to have an easy prep dinner on Christmas Eve – it’s just that matter of remembering, which is why I’ve written the recipe prep time as 24 hours.  You’re actually going to spend about an hour of hands-on time on this, but you need to give yourself some time.  If you’re a list maker like me, put it on your list for Dec. 22nd-ish and you’ll be set :)

Tourtiere: traditional French Canadian meat pie that we've adopted as our own :) | www.hiddenponies.com

What is the recipe you most associate with a Canadian Christmas?  Or do you have a non-Canadian family recipe you only enjoy at Christmas?  On the sweet side for me is my favourite Nanaimo Bars, which have also been added to the Canadian Food Experience Project – they are the first food I think of when someone mentions Canadian food, and they are a Christmas must in my home.  What are some of your favourite non-food traditions?  I love hearing what other people do to make memories and build traditions.

4.7 from 3 reviews
Tourtière (Meat Pie)
 
Prep
Cook
Total time
 
This savoury meat pie is equally good with ground beef, turkey, or chicken as with the traditional ground pork.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 1½ cups beef stock
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp summer savory or thyme
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • Pastry for a double-crust 9” or 10” pie, homemade or store bought
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp water
Instructions
  1. In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook pork, breaking up, for 7-10 minutes or until no longer pink. Drain fat.
  2. Stir in stock, onions, garlic, mushrooms, celery, salt, cinnamon, pepper, summer savory and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 35-45 minutes or until about 2 tbsp. of liquid remains. Stir in breadcrumbs and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until cold or for up to 2 days.
  3. When ready to assemble, on lightly floured surface roll out bottom pastry and fit into deep pie plate. Spoon filling into pie shell, smoothing top. Roll out top pastry. Cover meat with top pastry and press edges together to seal. Trim and flute pastry edge. Combine egg with water and brush over pastry. Cut steam vents in top of pie.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

 *Source: My mom, as adapted from Canadian Living.

Comments

  1. Lynne Chellingworth says

    I’m halfway through the making of your tourtière recipe. I’m going to take it in to work on the 1st for Canada Day (or Dominion Day in old money – I left Canada just after they changed the name).
    Really looking forward to my colleagues enjoyed a traditional Canadian dish.

  2. Pam says

    This was actually New Years Tradition in MA and RI back in the day. Each of his Uncles wives would bring their own tourtieres, After dinner they would move the furniture and do some quadrille dancing and my grandpere would play the fiddle.

  3. says

    I LOVE meatpie! There’s just something so comforting and hearty about it. This recipe looks great Anna, thanks for sharing it!

    Baking Christmas cookies and treats is always apart of my family’s tradition. We always drive around the neighborhood on Christmas eve to look at our neighbors Christmas lights and decorations. There are also a number of movies that we have to watch together as a family every year: A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (both versions), 4 different versions of A Christmas Carol, Elf, Rudolph- you get the picture.

    Thanks again, great pics and recipe :-)

    • Anna says

      Thanks Jess! I love all those Christmas movies – I tried to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the old version) with my kids last year and they were terrified, I couldn’t believe it! Trying again this year… :)

  4. Lorette says

    I made the tourtiere pie for dinner and it was the best we’ve had. Instead of one large pie I made individual pies since my kids come home different times from work. They loved it. Thank you for the great recipe

  5. Lorette says

    I have tried several recipes for tourtiere pie and this one looks like a keeper. I going to make it today. Our other traditional recipes for this time of year is croquetten, I make a huge batch, and dutch pastries like bokkje pootjes (goats feet cookies)

    • Anna says

      My mom always made croquetten too, but I’ve never done it myself – and I’ve never heard of bookje pootjes, I’ll have to look those up! Let me know how you like the tourtiere :)

  6. Kim says

    Just so you know, the recipe, like many of the ones I have used for years, came from Canadian Living :). I also made your Grandma Fletcher’s Dark Christmas Cake this year. That, to me, is the smell of Christmas. :)

  7. says

    Ahhh tourtière is our family tradition too! Every Christmas Eve! I absolutely love it!! (Last year I made a mushroom gravy to go on top too mmmmmm)

  8. Esther says

    Yum, I’ll have to try this one day. I love turkey or chicken pot pie, but my kids reeeally have to be encouraged to eat it. And they are not normally picky eaters!

    • Anna says

      That’s funny, my kids always turn up their noses at chicken pot pie too, and it is one of my absolute favourites! I try to convince them it tastes pretty much like the chicken noodle soup they love so much.

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