Guest Author - Melanie Hachey
Tourtiere is a quintessential French Canadian dish. It is a meat pie, usually made with ground pork, and traditionally served after midnight mass on Christmas eve, as part of the reveillon feast. But it can be eaten anytime. Go ahead and enjoy some today - I won't tell on you if you don't tell on me.
This is the Hachey family recipe, complete with Grand-maman's secrets and tips.
Use a 9 inch pie plate.
1 lb lean ground pork
Salt and pepper (Grand-maman suggests well-seasoning the meat, don't be shy with your salt and pepper)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed OR 1 tsp chopped garlic (Grand-maman prefers the garlic in water, rather than that pickled in oil)
1 tsp Italian seasoning (Grand-maman prefers the Italian seasoning to the more traditional savoury and sage - the extra seasoning gives the pork a more complex flavour)
Grand-maman also recommends, for a more interesting flavour, adding:
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
Combine the pork, onion, and garlic in a frying pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the pork is no longer pink. You can add a tbsp or two of water to keep it moist, if needed. Once the meat is well-cooked, add the Italian seasoning, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix well. Simmer the meat over low heat for another 15 minutes, or so, to allow the flavours to blend, stirring often.
2 cups all purpose flour
7 oz Crisco
7 Tbsp water
Combine the flour and Crisco and blend well with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles small peas. Add the water, mix with a fork until well-moistened. Using the fork, form the dough into a ball. Use your hands as little as possible, as too much handling will make the pastry lose its light, flaky texture. Use immediately, Grand-maman says that this recipe cannot be stored in the fridge for later use.
If you don't want to make the pastry from scratch, Grand-maman recommends using Robin Hood Flaky Pie Crust Mix. She says to add more water (at least 7 tbsp) than is called for by the instructions on the package.
Tip the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Cut it into two pieces and reform into balls, flatten and roll out until the dough is 13 inches wide. Place the bottom half in the pie plate, making sure to leave at least an inch of pastry around the edge on all sides. Put the filling in. Moisten the edges of the bottom crust then put the top on. Press gently around the edge so that they stick together. Trim to pastry to the edge of the pie plate. Flute the edge of the pastry. Grand-maman says to be sure to pierce the top of the pastry to allow the steam to escape.
Grand-maman suggests decorating your pie with leaf-shaped cut-outs, made from the remaining pastry. Dampen the bottom of the cut-outs with water and place decoratively on top of the pie.
Beat an egg, add a few splashes of milk, and brush the mixture over the top of the pastry to give it a nice golden glow once cooked.
An alternative to a full-size pie, which is always popular in Grand-mama's kitchen, is to make individual-size tourtieres in a muffin pan. Grand-maman says to make sure to cut the pastry for the bottom crust at least 3/4 of an inch larger, all the way around, than the top of the muffin holes in the pan in order to have enough pastry to fold over the edges of the top. Cut the pastry for the top of the crust to the same size as the top of the hole in the muffin pan. Dampen the edge of the bottom crust and fold over the top. Press down with a folk.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce to 375 until golden brown.
Serve it with green tomato chow-chow (Grand-maman recommends Graves, which she says can pass for homemade), and enjoy.