Mimi’s Tourtiere

Filling:

  • 2 pounds ground pork, mostly lean, but some fat a must
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • ¾ cup water or stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup cracker crumbs (Mimi used Ritz; I prefer pilot or oyster crackers.)
  • approximately 1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • Pastry for 2 double crust pies. (My sensible Aunt Min—Wilhelmina Tougas Blais—advised using a light hand with the shortening—half the usual proportion—when making pastry for tourtières.)

Put all the pork, onions, liquid, and seasonings into a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a simmer, stirring, over medium heat. Maintain simmer –pot lid ajar–for an hour.

Remove from the heat and let stand until it’s easy to skim off some fat from the surface of the stock. Don’t overdo it, as tourtière is supposed to be pretty rich. Stir in the cracker crumbs and enough bread crumbs to take up the moisture. Taste for seasoning. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out pastry for 2 pie pans. Divide filling between the pans, flattening it out. Apply upper crusts and fold edges, sealing with the tines of a fork, in the time-honored method for meat pies. Cut a small vent in the center. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until pastry is brown and bubbling action is visible in the center vent hole.

Tourtière may be baked ahead and reheated in a 300-degree oven. It is traditionally served with homemade chili sauce, piccalilli, or ketchup, and sometimes (but not at the réveillon), mashed potatoes.

Makes 2 pies, serving 8–10.

By Paula Marcoux

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