Tourtière is arguably the central figure of Québecois cuisine. The region of Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean, my paternal homeland, has their own delicious and history-entrenched version of the storied tourtière. In the days of New France, the filling would encompass wild game like venison, partridge, moose, hare. The origins of this specific tourtière are a result of the clash of the French and English influences – a true child of the founding nations, and representation of Canadian cuisine. Tourtière is actually the name of an old French cooking vessel used to bake the pie. The pie itself, was actually referred to as cipaille, or Sea-Pie in English, and had a great influence in the creation of this pastry, which emerged around the 1850’s – coinciding with the population of the Saguenay-Lac Saint Jean region.
Nowadays, the tourtière has evolved to fit the tastes of the softer, modern palate. This Lac Saint-Jean Tourtière is inspired by my grand-maman Harvey’s recipe!
The recipe was handed down to my dad, who has perfected the tourtière as well. The crust… so dreamy. This staple of Québec cuisine comes around once the temperature drops, and tends to highlight “le temps des fêtes”. There aren’t many things in this world that exude a sense of comfort and warmth quite like this tourtière. This is my childhood holidays in a nutshell.
Wine pairing: This is another recipe that teeters on the edge of white or light red territory. In true Québecois fashion, I paired this with a Québec wine – a blend of Frontenac Noir, Petite Perle, and Marquette, and it was really lovely. I could see this doing well with an oaked Chardonnay, a Sur-lie Loire Valley white, or a Viognier.
- Pie Crust
- 5 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 lb pork cut into cubes
- 1 lb veal cut into cubes
- 1 lb beef cut into cubes
- 7-8 potatoes peeled and cubed (there should be more potatoes than meat)
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- A few sprigs of fresh oregano
- 1/2 cup red wine
- Mix the flour, salt, and shortening together
- In another bowl, beat the egg together with the water and vinegar.
- Mix together and divide the dough into two separate doughs – approximately 2/3 for the bottom of the pie, and about 1/3 for the top crust.
- Cube meats, peel and cube potatoes.
- Mix the meat and potatoes together and add the herbs – season with salt and pepper to your tastes.
- Heat oven to 350F
- Roll both doughs to about 1/4 inch thick.
- Line your container with the bottom pie dough.
- Fill the lined bowl with the filling.
- Add the wine, then add enough water so that the water comes to about 1/4 inch below the top of the filling.
- Cover with top pie dough, pinching the top pie dough together with the bottom pie dough.
- Make incision in the centre of the pie to allow for steam to escape.
- Bake without cover for 2-3 hours.
- Bake with cover on for 4-5 hours at 275F.
NOTE: It is normal if there is still liquid after completely baking the pie. This will be absorbed by the pie overnight, and makes for good eats in the next days to come.