Written by Linda Gauthier
When I was a child, we never had Tourtiere, my background was English and Scottish with a pinch of Welsh thrown in for good measure, so I grew up eating and having traditional English meals with the occasional foray into the exotic world of restaurant American Chinese food. However, when I met my husband and we started our own family, my tastes and cooking abilities had evolved substantially. My husband was born and raised for the first part of his life in Quebec, and as he puts it, when he was 15, he emigrated to Canada.
However, to me tradition is very important and I was determined that my children know some of his family traditions. Some, like poutine, have fallen by the wayside. Neither of us were terribly fond of this concoction, good, though rather stodgy and calorie-laden for my liking. It has been claimed, by some, to be our national dish. I'm sorry, but I think we can be far more creative and have far more wonderful dishes to hold up as our national dish. Chips with gravy and squeaky cheese curds poured over them is good folks, but National Dish?? I say more regional than national. Rant over!!
However, I found the building of our family tradition around the baking and eating of the Tourtiere on Christmas Eve truly enjoyable, and looked forward to, by all of our family. So much so that my daughter, who now lives in Newfoundland, cried her first Christmas away because she could not find all the ingredients she wanted for the Tourtiere or my Sage and Sausage Stuffing.
The warmth and memories we all create with our traditional foods brings us closer when we cannot be together, it warms our souls and floods our memories with the smells and tastes of our childhood and happy times. I'm sure her new traditions, which will evolve with the inclusion of old and new from the people she loves and shares her life with, will become as valued to her as the ones that evolved in our family.
This year I used the Weight Watchers Pastry I wrote about earlier.
The filling for my recipe is as follows:
Because we did not have a lot of family around this year, I made the Tourtiere in small loaf pans that would serve 2 to 4 people, dependent on serving size. For the buffet, I cut each Tourtiere into 4 small servings.
for 2 large deep pies or 2 small loaf tins and 1 1/2 dozen deep tarts.
1/2 lb veal this year I used ground turkey in an effort to reduce fat and calories
1/2 lb lean hamburger
1/2 lb pork this year I used ground chicken in an effort to reduce fat and calories
4 large potatoes, grated, pat dry with paper towels keep covered
to limit potatoes from changing color.
1 cup grated carrot
sea salt, fresh ground pepper, grated fresh nutmeg to taste.
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp thyme
thickening agent: flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour etc. I used a sprinkle of flour over the top of the meat, so that the juices are thickened as it cooks.
Brown your meats lightly, drain oil and grease from meats.
remove from heat stir in your herbs and spices.
let cool slightly add potatoes and carrots
press into pastry shells
top with pastry
seal and decorate give a light brushing with egg wash.
Bake at 425 degrees until brown and golden with meat juices bubbling up through top slashes.
I make a separate gravy from the meat juices for those who like a gravy with the meat. The Tourtiere is a solid meat pie, with a lovely flavour. The nutmeg really enhances the meat flavours. Originally, a Tourtiere was made from wild game, so it would have contained meats like pheasant, venison, rabbit or boar, and grouse or partridge. I noticed that someone was asking what the weight watchers point value is for Tourtiere.
For a single serving, 17 ww points per pie serving, if you have small servings such as a slice from the small loaf pan it would be 1/2 that. I have been able to ascertain this by adding the ingredient totals and then dividing them by portion.
Hope you enjoy this recipe, and maybe, just maybe, incorporate it into your traditions.
Relax, enjoy and relish the memories.