Tourtière, Canada’s traditional French meat pie, is a staple at Magnan family gatherings.
My mémère — my French grandmother, Florence — is a tourtière-making pro. Her pastry is flaky; the meat is perfectly seasoned. Over the holidays, I decided it was time to learn how to make her specialty, so I spent a day with her and my pépère, Jeff, who is a master kitchen helper. Watching the two of them at work in their kitchen always makes me happy; they’re a great team.
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp sage
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1 9-inch pie pastry *we made the pastry from scratch, but ready-made ones work like a charm
Combine meat, onion, water and spices in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until meat has lost its pink colour but is still moist. In a separate small bowl, mix 1 tbsp cornstarch with 1 tbsp water; add to the meat mixture and blend well. Cool. Spoon into pie and top with pastry.
Bake at 425ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned.
That’s the official recipe, anyway. I knew that, once we got cooking, there would be a few minor adjustments — special touches that make this tourtière my grandmother’s own. She’s all for sharing her secrets, so consider these tips when making yours.
Mémère’s Secret Steps:
- Instead of chopping the onions, grate them. Keep the juice; add it to the pot with the water, onion and spices, and then add the meat.
- In the last couple of years, she’s started adding 1/3 tsp of Montreal Steak Spice to the mix.
- After you’ve mixed in the cornstarch and water, and while the meat is still hot, stir in 1/3 tbsp of butter.
- Brush the pie’s pastry with a beaten egg to ensure a golden crust.
I hope that, when I make the pie on my own in Calgary, it comes out just as golden and tasty. Living up to mémère’s tourtière will be no small feat.
p.s. Tourtière is great when served with gravy and cranberry sauce. For a slight twist, I’ve used a cranberry sauce from Barbara Fairchild’s The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook, which she usually pairs with pork chops.
Cranberry, Port and Rosemary Sauce
- 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
- 3/4 cup tawny Port
- 1 3/4 tsp minced fresh rosemary
- 1 cup cranberry sauce
Add broth, Port and rosemary to skillet. Boil until liquid is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Add cranberry sauce; bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 7 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.