French Canadian Pork Pie (Tourtière)

Tourtières

This recipe originated in Québec and became a popular dish in the New England region of the US when Canadian immigrants brought their recipes, traditions and language with them. Like many other Québécois in the early 20th century, my grandparents immigrated to the US for job opportunities, as industrial jobs were more plentiful in the US and offered a better wage than in Canada. They moved to Lowell, Massachusetts and found work in the textile mills. In 1900, people of French Canadian origin made up 26% of Lowell’s population.

This recipe is handed down to me from my Memère. It was a staple at many a Comtois family gathering. Traditionally a Christmas dish, it is delicious anytime especially during the colder months. Fillings can vary depending on region and taste preferences – in coastal areas some use fish (such as salmon), whereas pork, beef, rabbit and wild game are often used inland. This is the classic recipe I grew up with. I usually double it in order to make two pies (serving one and freezing the other) because, as you will learn, one pie will not last long! Pork Pie is often served with ketchup or a tangy relish (like chili sauce) or even molasses, but my favorite is to serve it with brown gravy… my mouth is watering right now.

“Je me souviens.”

French Canadian Pork Pie (Tourtière)

Makes one 9-inch pie.

  •  2 large potatoes, peeled
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 Pie crusts (for bottom and top)

Cut up potatoes; cook in boiling water 20 minutes. Drain; mash. Brown pork; drain off fat. Stir in the next 6 ingredients, plus ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cover; simmer 20 minutes, stirring often. Discard the bay leaf. Stir in mashed-up potatoes; cool. Line a 9” pie plate with pastry. Fill with meat mixture. Place pastry atop meat filling. Seal and flute edges. Slit pastry top (for venting). Bake in 400° oven 30 minutes.

 

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