When I was a young kid, I loved poking around the kitchen when my Mom was cooking. She had a real routine and a corner of the kitchen counter that was her work space, so I would often grab a chair and drag it over in front of the sink, climb up and watch her do her thing. Pie crusts were always one thing that intrigued me and sometimes Mom would sing a little ditty called 'Billy Boy'.
That song and the bit about making a cherry pie I credit with my urge to perfect pie crust technique. Of course, I've gone far beyond cherry pies over the years. In fact, next week, I will mark thirty-four years with my charming Billy, otherwise known as Silent Bob. So, in honor of tying the knot, I made us a lovely little Tortière for our dinner this evening.
This is a soft pie of minced pork and beef, mashed potato, and spices - a raft of spices. The crust is a peppered crust. Served hot from the oven, we felt we had stepped back in time to an 18th century hearthside ... slap some succotash on the side and perhaps some boiled greens and this would be a supper fit for a farmer, a journeyman, or anyone who happens into the local pub.
We are neither farmer or journeyman, but the warm substance of a meal like this hammers home its history and makes us feel anchored in the tradition of the French-Canadian roots of this particular recipe. Oh, and we'd love to see the local pub pick up on this recipe!
Warmed in the oven the next day, it's just as good as the night before ... and the spices have worked a bit more on the meat and potato filling. Delicious (but not a low-calorie lunch!) ... salad on the side, anyone?
April's French- Canadian Tortière
Oven: 450° F for 10 minutes and then 350° F for 35 minutes longer
1 lb. ground beef
½ lb. ground pork
1 small onion, small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. celery salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. ground sage
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce (my addition)
½ c. boiling water
3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled, boiled, and mashed with a bit of cream and butter
Pie crust for a two crust pie
Making the Dish:
1. Prepare your favorite pie crust recipe (2 crust pie recipe) and chill the dough.
2. Brown the meats in a heavy Dutch oven, breaking the meat with a fork into small crumble.
3. Add the onions, garlic, spices, and seasoning sauce and continue to sauté until the meat and veggies are softened.
4. Add the water and stir well. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and let half the water cook off.
5. Meanwhile in another saucepan, boil the potatoes and mash them with just a bit of cream and butter.
6. Roll out the chilled pie crust and line the bottom of a 9 or 10-inch pie plate. Roll the top crust and have it ready to top the tortière immediately after putting in the warm filling.
7. When the liquid has reduced on the browned filling, add the potatoes and stir to incorporate them.
8. Let the filling cool a bit before turning into the pie … then turn it in, place top crust on and crimp edges, cut some steam slits or make a decorative design.
9. Bake for ten minutes at 450°F and then turn the heat down to 350°F for another 35 minutes.
10. Serve hot from the oven with a salad or vegetable side dish.