- Andy Brumbaugh
When I was growing up, meat pie wasn't on our holiday menu. Our annual Thanksgiving Pie-Palooza has always been about sweet dessert pies. At Christmas, my family's Swedish traditions take center stage.
My husband's family, on the other hand, is French Canadian; his grandfather grew up outside of Montréal. My husband can't remember a childhood holiday when his grandmother did not show up with at least one meat pie in hand. I asked him whether he knew of anything special she would put in her recipe.
"Love," he told me.
Many cultures around the world have their own version of meat pie, but this one from our neighbors to the north is special. French Canadian meat pie, or tourtière, dates back to at least the late 1700s. It originated in Québec, and the recipe varies from family to family. The most common meats used are ground beef and pork, but pies can also be made with ground veal or game meat. My husband's family used potatoes to help bind together the filling. Other recipes use oats or bread crumbs.
The eclectic spice mixture is what my husband finds most nostalgic — cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. The addition of the traditionally sweeter spices is what makes it tourtière. Many folks, my husband included, enjoy ketchup along with their meat pie. I like mine with cranberry sauce and a side of roasted vegetables. Included above is my recipe for maple-glazed carrots with cranberries.
One great thing about a tourtière is that it freezes well, for up to about four months.
You can freeze just the cooled, precooked filling for use in future pies, or freeze the unbaked pies themselves. Let the filling cool after cooking it on the stovetop, then assemble in unbaked piecrusts, preferably in disposable aluminum foil pie pans; wrap the pies well in tight plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and freeze. When you're ready, simply brush the frozen piecrust with egg wash and bake for about 50 to 60 minutes at 400 degrees.
To freeze an already-baked pie, let it cool completely, then wrap and freeze. To reheat, thaw for several hours in the refrigerator, then bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.
So go ahead — make extras and give some love to your family and friends, French Canadian-style.
Tourtière (One 9-inch pie)
- 4 yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- ¼ teaspoon ground rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon ground thyme
- Piecrust for top and bottom crust — store-bought or homemade
- 1 egg
- Cover potatoes with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain, then mash the potatoes until smooth. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, then stir until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the meat and cook until no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Drain off fat, then mix in spices. Remove from heat.
- Add the potatoes to the meat and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out one piecrust and line a 9-inch pie pan. Roll out the top crust and set aside.
- Spoon the filling into the piecrust, making sure there are not any air pockets. Cover with top crust and crimp the edges, cutting vent holes in the center.
- Whisk the egg and brush evenly on top of the crust.
- Bake until crust is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Carrots With Cranberries in a Maple-Cider Vinegar Glaze
- Andy Brumbaugh
- Carrots With Cranberries in a Maple-Cider Vinegar Glaze
- 1 pound carrots (I like rainbow carrots)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ pound fresh cranberries
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash carrots well, and cut into coins (no need to peel).
- Mix together olive oil, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup.
- Toss carrots and cranberries in the cider-syrup mixture and put in a roasting pan.
- Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.