12 January 2018

French Canadian Tourtière with Gravy

This weather in the Northeast has been a rollercoaster, to say the least! Between ultra low temps, blinding snow, and the latest cruel twist (a rapid melt off and torrential rains), we Yankees don't know whether to dig out the seed catalogues and get happy or roll ourselves up in our blankets and hibernate for the next two months !

At any rate, the talk around town and in social media is all about the comfort food, warm fires, family activities like games and movies, and the occasional reference to having a stiff drink to ward off the colds and flu bugs that are beginning to make the rounds. I'm all about the comfort food and warm fire thing. That means going back to special seasonal recipes that warm you to the cockles of your heart and make the house smell like 'home'. French Canadian tourtière fits the bill. It's comfort food meets pub food, in my book.

I pulled my little pie bird off the mantle yesterday and baked a beautiful version of this traditional French classic. With salad and cold beer, it was as good as I'll ever get in any neighborhood bistro in Quebec City! I got my recipe from a neighbor (April Levesque) years ago and make it every winter (at least once) in her honor. Sprout Sara has, over the years, struggled with the high fat content of the meats that go into this pie, so I have begun making the tourtière with ultra lean ground beef. That seems to balance out the fattiness of the ground pork nicely. April's recipe is very light on the spices. I tend to add more of the ground sage, and cinnamon and keep the cloves at the recommended amount. I also make a beef stock gravy for my tortière that is fortified with a bit of Gravymaster (in the prepared sauce/gravy section of the supermarket) and a tiny splash of cider vinegar. There you have it! It's a worthy dish ... just sayin'.

Here's my altered recipe that builds on the one April gave me back in the day. I hope you make time to put a tortière together. Enjoy!

French Canadian Tourtière

Bake Time: 450 degrees F for 10 minutes, then 350 degrees F for 35 minutes longer

Start by making your best two-crust pie pastry recipe. Wrap and chill the dough while you make the meat filling.

In a heavy Dutch oven, cook the following ingredients over  medium-low, until the meats are not pink:

1 1/4 lb. very lean ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 small onion, small dice
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground celery seed
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 - 3/4 tsp ground sage
1 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1 1/2 tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet or GravyMaster browning /seasoning sauce

When the meat is no longer pink, add:

3/4 c. boiling water

Cover partially and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until almost all the water has been absorbed by the meat. This takes about 30 - 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, peel and chop:

3 medium sized potatoes

Parboil the potatoes until knife tender. Then, mash them with some butter and milk to make a thick mash. Set them aside to firm up and cool a bit.

When the meat juices are almost absorbed, add the potatoes and stir well to make a meat/potato paste. Set aside to cool.

Pre-heat the oven and place the rack in the lower central section of the oven.

Beat an egg in a small bowl with a splash of water. This is used to glaze the pie crust. 

Roll out the pastry dough and line a 9 inch pie plate.  Roll out the top crust BEFORE you put the warm filling into the pie or the lower crust will get ultra soggy. 

Place the filling in the pie plate, top with the upper crust, crimp a pretty design around the edges, brush with the egg wash, poke a few steam vents in the top crust, and pop into the hot oven. Mind your bake times and oven temperature change.

While the tourtière bakes, make a gravy. Using the pan you cooked the filling in, add 1 1/2 c. beef stock to the pan, stirring all the loose bits from the sides and bottom of the pan. Add black pepper, a tiny splash (careful here, just a tiny splash) of cider vinegar, a wee bit of Kitchen Bouquet or Gravymaster sauce . Stir and bring to a good simmer. Make a paste of flour and water and whisk in to thicken the gravy. Correct the seasonings ... you may need a few drops more vinegar for a slight tartness, seasoning sauce, some salt, more black pepper ... bring it to taste.

Serve the tourtière warm from the oven with a drizzle of gravy. 


  1. Oh my I will have to try this!

  2. Baking this as I type this message! Smells soooo good.


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