A Prairies attempt at cuisine Québécoise in three parts… Part I: Tourtière

Tourtière Pastry

  • Servings: 1 deep double pie crust
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt (cut to 1 Tbsp if using salted butter)
  • 4 Tbsp cold water, then to add by 1 Tbsp as necessary

Directions

Mix together flour and salt. Cut the butter into the flour until the butter is about pea-sized. Add the water and mix, adding additional water as required until the dough starts to form up. Press the dough together into a ball and let sit in a fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, up to overnight.

When ready to use, take the dough out of the fridge and divide into two halves. Form each half into disks, and then roll them out to desired thickness. Fold each dough into quarters, score one of the halves to prepare for top section. Place bottom section, poke with fork, fill with filling from recipe below, then place top section. Pinch around edges, then trim off the excess sections. Bake at 375ºF for 45-60 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.


Tourtière Filling

  • Servings: 1 pie
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Original recipe courtesy of Recettes du Québec (link in text below), with modifications to suit the needs of this recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium sized shallots, diced small
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Directions


Brown the meat with the garlic and shallots. Once all the meat is cooked through, add the potatoes, water and spices. Cover and simmer for approximately 1 hour. Fill pie shells as indicated in recipe above.

And now for the details…

While I was home over the holidays (yes, it took me until now to post… *le sigh*), I got the opportunity to cook with one of my really good friends, Krystal. Both of us live in different cities, and we rarely get to see each other, but have been able to visit the last few times we both have come home for Christmas.

When we get together to cook, we have a habit of turning it into our very own faux cooking show, full of cheesy smiles, exaggerated cheery banter, and any food facts we may have about what we are cooking. “Emily, why don’t you tell me more about shallots.” “Well Krystal, shallots are a type of onion, but are milder in flavour and sometimes carry the flavour of garlic…” *overly melodramatic fake laughter*

Every time we do this, we choose a theme for the meal and take great joy in trying to figure out what the theme will be. We ended up zoning in on French Canadian fare as the theme for this cooking adventure, and lucky for us, since Krystal had started dating a gent from Québec, we were regaled with all kinds of ideas for the menu. The suggestions included a whole lotta meat and carbs which we narrowed down to tourtière, ragoût de boulettes, and mashed potatoes. The only suggestions for veggies were pickles and a shredded carrot salad. So we went online to find out more about French Canadian food to see what we could find for vegetables. Fun fact that we discovered: French Canadian food was heavily influenced by French and Irish food. Another fun fact: there are not a lot of vegetable options when you do a Google search for Irish cuisine. So we decided to go French-ish and added haricot verts to the menu. Krystal remembered having a dish of beans with caramelized walnuts and onions at a restaurant in Québec, and so: enter haricot verts with caramelized walnuts and crispy shallots.

The results of our efforts!

For this post, we are going to make tourtière. I started the night before to give the dough enough time to rest in the fridge. The crust we are making is a butter crust, which means there is no lard. It would be great for vegetarians if it wasn’t for… well… the meat filling 😉

I would suggest cutting the butter into the flour while it is still cold. Then the butter breaks apart instead of smooshing (yes, smooshing), which I find lends to me overworking the flour to cut the butter down to size. I am suggesting Kosher salt here, but any salt will do. I am just a bit of a saltaholic and I like that “bite” of salt you get when it doesn’t break down completely in the dough. If you are sodium adverse, cut the sodium down in any and all of my recipes 😛

The original recipe I was following for the dough had a terrible ratio of flour to butter to water. After I had cut the butter into the flour and salt, I added the suggested amount of water and you can see the liquid mess I ended up with in the following photo. I ended up cutting way more butter into way more flour, and mixing it into the liquid mess to try and get something that would work. This meant I was working the flour way more than I was hoping to, and I feel as though my crust was “tougher” than I would have liked.

I made significant changes to the recipe that will hopefully help you improve your experience! Start with the first small amount of water, and lightly mix everything together. I am suggesting to start with this, and only add more water as needed, by the tablespoon. There will be a few extra dry bits, but as long as the dough is mostly forming up, try and pull those dry bits in and let the dough rest together instead of adding way more liquid and ending up with too much. I made round two tourtière with the new recipe, and as you can see it turned out much better!!

After you pull the dough all together, wrap it in parchment or waxed paper and let it rest in the fridge in an air proof container. Either a ziplock bag or a Tupperware container would work great for this. By resting, it will allow the moisture to hit up those dry bits, as well as lets the gluten relax. Maybe even play it a little Frankie Goes to Hollywood if you think it will help 😉

The next bit is to get your filling ready. The original recipe we used to help us through the filling was courtesy of the site Recettes du Québec, and I have made some modifications to meet the tastes I was trying to get to. Start by dicing your garlic and shallots. Add them to a dry pot on medium-high heat until they have just begun to brown.

Next, add the pork and sauté the meat with the shallots and garlic until the meat has browned, breaking up the meat if it forms into larger chunks. While the meat is cooking, peel your potatoes and shred them using a grater.

Add the potatoes, spices and boiling water to the pot, cover, and lower the heat WAY down to a simmer. Allow this to simmer for approximately an hour.

About 15 minutes prior to the filling being ready, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Take your dough out of the fridge and separate into two halves, rolling each half into a ball. On a clean, floured surface, flatten one of the halves and roll out until desired thickness. To help transfer to you pie pan, fold the dough into quarters, transfer, then unfold in the pan. Perforate the bottom crust with a fork to avoid bubbling of the crust during cooking.

When rolling out the top half, add your choice design into the pastry before topping off your pie. The pattern allows steam to release during cooking, and makes sure you don’t end up with a blow out of your dough!

Once you have topped off your pie, pinch the edges to seal them up, then trim the ends to get a nice clean pie. Now it’s off to the oven for your tourtière to bake! I put my pie on a baking sheet to catch any unwanted messes in case there was overflow.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Let it chill at room temperature for about 15 minutes before digging in. Then, slice that sucker up and enjoy!!

Coming up next time… Ragoût de boullettes!