Today US author E. Ayers is here with a Christmas recipe she told me she thought “unusual” when she first read it. I had to laugh when I read what the recipe was. It’s not odd to us in the north of England – we eat pork pies a LOT. Available in every butcher’s and supermarket, they are a staple on Boxing Day in my house. I’ve never tried E. Ayers’ recipe, though, and I was intrigued to read this Canadian version, which looks absolutely delicious – and I will definitely be trying! Her husband and mine share something in common – they both love a pork pie!
Thanks for coming by and sharing, E. Ayers!
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Thanks so much for inviting me to be here! There are two recipes that spell Christmas in my house. One is a cookie recipe that has been handed down through several generations. But the other is a rather unusual meat pie. I’d like to share that pie recipe with your readers and give you a little history behind it.
My husband and I were from very different backgrounds so the whole idea of celebrating Christmas became a huge jumble of conflicting things. We had a serious discussion about what was important. He came from a super-huge French Canadian family (super huge to me!) where Christmas dinner was an outrageous assortment of foods.
No way! There were only two of us. Pick something that you absolutely love that means Christmas to you, and I’ll make it. So he did.
Huh? What the heck is that? By the time he tried to explain it, I was completely confused. Say pie to me and I’m thinking fruit pies. So I asked his mom who promptly supplied me with the recipe and invited me to watch her make it.
We’d only been married a few weeks and I barely knew how to scramble an egg. I took the recipe to my mom and begged for help. She showed me how to cheat my way through it. Instead of grinding hot pork like his mom, I bought the pork ground and cooked it! Guess what? The pies tasted the same! I never told my mother-in-law I cheated.
I promise, it’s not difficult. I taught my one granddaughter to make it when she was eight. I’ll admit the crust had a few “problems”, but she was proud of herself! Every year tourtiere was there for our Christmas Eve dinner and for breakfast the next morning. It made Christmas morning a breeze! I’d start the coffee, put the pie in the oven to warm, and watch the children open their presents! By the time we got around to breakfast, it was hot and ready for us.
I will admit it is a bit different. I’ve made tons of them over the years and shared with friends. I’ve had a few friends who found it to be a little strange, but most all my friends begged for me to make one for them or begged for the recipe.
It’s delicious when served with an apple and pear compote. Just cut the apples and pears up into small bite-sized pieces. Put a tiny dollop of butter in a pan and allow it to melt. Toss the fruit into the pan, add a dash of water, and little sprinkle of sugar if needed (if the apples and pears are really sweet do not add sugar), and then heat on the stove in a covered pan until the fruit is soft. (If you overcook it, you’ll have homemade applesauce! Go ahead and ask me know I know that.) Allow it to sit in the warm pan so it’s not runny. Serve warm.
1 pound of ground pork (British: 450gsm pork mince) I ask the butcher to grind very lean pork for me. It costs a few cents more, but it’s worth it.
2 medium boiled and peeled potatoes (Cut up fine. You want some texture but no large chunks.)
One fat slice of mild onion (or cheat with powdered onion and skip sautéing in butter.)
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of cloves
a dash of salt and little butter
pork gravy (you can cheat and use packaged gravy)
Cut up the onion into very fine pieces and sauté in butter. Add ground pork and stir until cooked. Turn stove off. Drain any excess fat. Stir in seasonings. Gently add the potatoes. You will need about a cup of gravy. I save my unsalted potato water and mix that with the gravy packet. Add that gravy to the meat and potato mixture and lightly stir.
(I swear they are so easy to make and taste delicious. You’ll never use store bought again.)
2 cups of all purpose flour (Brits – use plain flour. This will equal about 8oz/225gsm)
1 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons of shortening (Brits: use 4oz/110gsm lard, or half lard/half butter, or all butter also works.)
4-5 Tablespoons of cold water
A pie plate (8-9 inches) (20cm pie dish)
Measure flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in shortening. Take two knives and cut until shortening seems to vanish into the flour and it all becomes grainy. Sprinkle in water, mixing until the dough begins to form a ball and pulls from the sides of the bowl. Gather into a ball with your hands and cut the ball in half. Cover the one unused half with a damp paper towel.
Don’t worry about having a dough board, etc. Make certain your countertop is extra clean. Sprinkle it with flour. Be generous. If you don’t have a rolling pin, substitute with something that will roll such as a smooth glass jar. Sprinkle a little flour on the dough ball and don’t be afraid to sprinkle more flour as you go. Roll the half ball into something about the size of your hand. Pick it up, flip it over, and roll it using pie slice strokes to create a round shape. (Think of a clock and roll from the center to the 12, then from the center to the 2, from the center to the 4, etc.) The flattened dough needs to be about two inches larger than the rim of the pie plate. Don’t worry about ragged edges.
When I taught my children, I often used waxed paper under the piecrust as they rolled. I’d let them roll it out part of the way on the counter, and then when I flipped it over, I put it on waxed paper that had been floured. The waxed paper tends to slip around so I’d glue it down with a smear of dough on the countertop. I’d let them mark the circle on the waxed paper with a pen ahead of time so they knew how far the dough had to stretch. (Put the marked side down on the counter.) Then it’s easy to pick the crust up, waxed paper and all, and flip it over into the pie plate. Gently peel the waxed paper off and push the crust into place. Fix cracks, etc, with a wet finger as you push the dough back together. (Practice will teach you not to have cracks, but if you get them, it won’t change the taste.) Trim the crust slightly beyond the edge of the plate.
Fill pie with meat filling. Do not exceed the height of the pie plate. And don’t try to pack it tight. (Any excess filling can be heated in the microwave and eaten on toast. Or if you have enough you can make another pie or freeze it.)
Make a top crust by rolling out the other half. Lay it gently on the pie. With luck this one will look much better. (The bottom crust was practice, right?)
If you have clean pastry shears you can cut the dough, if not, use a sharp knife and remove all but an extra inch. Tuck that top layer under the bottom layer on the rim and flute it with your fingers. Or cut both crusts to the edge of the pie plate and run a damped finger between the two so that they stick together. Use the handle of a spoon and press them together or use the tines of a fork. You can make pretty fluted patterns doing it.
Cover the edges of the plate with a foil sleeve to protect the edges from getting too brown. This pie needs to be vented so that the steam escapes. The quick way is to put 2-3 1 inch knife slices in the center. Bake the pie at 425 degrees Fahrenheit (210 deg C / gas mark 6) until it begins to brown.
Remove the pie, allow it to cool and refrigerate. Then I reheat it without the foil on the edges. Or remove foil to allow the edges to brown and serve hot. Make some extra gravy to pour over it when it’s served. (I’ve also seen his family eat it with ketchup on it.) (Helena: my husband has brown sauce)
I decorate the crust and this has become a tradition in my house. It doesn’t take much skill and it’s fun! It only takes a sharp knife and toothpicks. Over the years trees have become elaborate things with presents under them and Christmas balls hang from pine branches. Some years the piecrusts haven’t looked that great especially when my girls were learning. And lately it’s been the same with the grandchildren making them, but they taste wonderful.
E. Ayers is an Amazon best-selling author in Western Romance and a proud member of the Authors of Main Street. When she least expected it, she found her prince charming and married him five weeks later. She uses that heart-warming passion as a basis for all her books, because she believes everyone needs someone to love.
Visit her blog and read her holiday short story, The Kissing Ball, for free.
Twitter / Amazon Author Page / Authors of Main Street Newsletter
The Authors of Main Street will be releasing their collection Christmas on Main Street on 11th November, and giving away a FREE copy of Decorating on Main Street.
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I can’t wait for release of your collection, E. Ayers. The Authors of Main Street are guaranteed to put together a great read. Thanks so much for coming by with your French Canadian recipe. It’s been really interesting to find how the north of England and Canada share the same dish.
E. Ayers is one of the contributors to our dessert recipe book Bake, Love, Write, where you can find lots more delicious recipes to try out over the holidays (Amazon US and Amazon UK buy links)
Do you like meat pies? Do you have a traditional Christmas recipe? If you’ve enjoyed E.Ayers’ post, or have any questions or comments at all, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!
43 thoughts on “A recipe for Tourtière and a fabulous book collection – all part of Christmas on Main Street!”
Well, maybe I should have passed along the cookie recipe. :-) But I promise that over here, in the USA, pork pies are not common! And it’s even stranger to have them for breakfast! But to my husband, that was Christmas and something his grandmother and mother made for the occasion.
Say meat pie and most people think of Chicken Potpie. And if you don’t know what that is – it’s like a thick chicken soup/stew between two pie crusts. It’s quite yummy.
I had a lot to learn that first year we were married. And I learned to cook! As a beginner, it wasn’t easy. All those fancy terms and learning to saute onions, etc… You have no idea how many times they got crispy! But I did learn. The biggest problem was moving away from his family and mine when his job brought him to Virginia. I bought cookbooks and read them carefully.
I had a garden and I learned to can, freeze, and make jellies and jams. I love baking bread. Actually I love baking. But since I’m now a widow, and my children are grown and gone, I don’t dare make all those delicious things that I love so much because there’s only me to eat them. And I would eat them!
Hi E, one thing I’ve loved about our Bake, Love, Write cookbook, and about the series of posts I’ve been running, is trying out recipes from different cultures and different parts of the world. Because these are all recipes that we actually make at home for our families, they are far more real than those in cookbooks put together by a professional chef.
Your recipe is actually what we’d call a meat and potato pie in my part of the world. Although I called it a pork pie in the post, a pork pie for us is actually something different. It can stand up alone, without the pie dish, and is small – enough for two people. We eat it cold usually. I wish I could gift you one through the power of cyberspace so you could see what I mean. Sometimes they have egg inside, like in this recipe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/pork_pie
And I agree about learning to cook through trial and error. Our family recipes aren’t handed down so much, as people move away from their local area. But I’m so glad I got to learn your husband’s Tourtiere. You described how to make it in the perfect way.
Thanks for coming along and sharing!
I don’t know how things are over there anymore, but most people here buy pre-made pie crusts. They come either frozen or refrigerated. They don’t taste the same as ones made fresh. The pre-made ones taste like cardboard, or they are sweet like cookies. I’d rather eat one that doesn’t look as pretty but tastes delicious! And they only take a few minutes to make.
I know the first few pies I made looked less than perfect, but the expression on my husband’s face when he tasted it made it all worth it. I promise he never noticed the way the crust looked.
Hi again E, a lot of people here make their own pastry, but frozen pastry is also very common. You thaw it and roll it out yourself. It’s actually not that bad. I’ve never seen a ready cooked pie crust, though. Once you’ve got the hang of making your own pastry, it’s really quite easy, and tastes way better, like you say.
I forgot to mention in my last comment – hope you can come back some day with the cookie recipe!
I’d love to come back with my cookie recipe that date into the 1800’s and has quite a family history..
Love the post and these little differences between the US and UK, E! Although we don’t eat pork pies here in Scotland as much as they tend to in parts of England, I love making steak and sausage pie, but I buy ready-to-roll puff pastry for the topping!
That’s a meat pie I actually haven’t tried, Rosemary. Sounds delicious! I sometimes get a Marks and Spencer ready made sausage pie (also delish), and if I need to use puff pastry, I always buy frozen. I saw Paul Hollywood from the Great British Bake Off use it once – and if it’s good enough for him…!
Thanks very much for your comment!
We buy puff pastry frozen.It’s Pepperidge Farm brand, but or fun I tried making it. Lots of work and lots of butter! The end result… I’ll buy it frozen.
Love the post! I’ve always associated cinnamon and cloves in meat dishes with Brazil. I’ll have to try this. And the crust sounds perfect. :)
It does sound good, Rose. And I love the way E described so clearly how to make it. I can picture her and her granddaughter rolling it out in their kitchen! Thanks for dropping by with your comment!
I used to have about a dozen rolling pins in the house but when my girls married, they raided my stuff! I’ll start digging for a particular one and it’s no longer there. I had half sized rolling pins that were great when the kids first start helping. And when they were very little they had “toy” ones that were quite tiny. I’d let them roll bits of cookie dough and use a simple design cookie cutter. They were always so proud of themselves.
Your recipe sounds a little like my mothers mincemeat pie. She used real mincemeat not the fruity stuff you can buy. Actually, your’s sounds better than hers, which I didn’t like, Probably because I was a kid and pies were supposed to be sweet. LOL
We have fruit mince pies here in the UK, too, Cindy. They’re synonymous with Christmas, and I love them. Thanks for dropping in!
Yes, the original mincemeat pies were made with real meat. I tried one of those real meat pies and I was not impressed. I buy Crosse & Blackwell mincemeat and I use the same pie crust for the mincemeat pie. Yes, it’s a Christmas favorite here, too! And I love, love, love plum pudding! And gingerbread, and… just thinking about all the wonderful foods is making my waistline expand!
Can I come to your house for Christmas, E.? Great writing here!
I’d love to come, too! Then I get to eat the cookies, as well as the Tourtière!
Thanks for your comment, Jan
Actually, our big meal is on Christmas Eve and I normally have ham. I try to keep the meal simple so that I’m not killing myself doing it. And really most meats are easy to make. I prep the ham and put it in the oven. Very easy.
On about the 23rd, I make macaroni salad, potato salad, a fruit salad (mandarin oranges and pineapple) and a few other foods that can be eaten cold. Then Christmas day, after our hearty breakfast of tourtiere, we have dinner with cold ham and all those wonderful almost picnic-like foods. That kept me out of the kitchen and allowed me to actually enjoy being with my husband, children, and all their new toys.
E, I often cook a ham for Boxing Day, and have it with salads and also our British version of pork pie. Our Christmas Dinner is more like you probably have on Thanksgiving – roast turkey with all the trimmings. My favourite dinner ever!
I’ve got it made now! I go to my daughter’s house and she does all the cooking.
A very interesting recipe! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for dropping in, Jacqueline!
I know it may sound a bit odd, but give it a try. It’s not expensive to make and you don’t have to wait for Christmas to make it.
Seriously never try a NEW recipe on Christmas or Christmas Eve. It’s not the time to experiment on the family! :-)
This is a recipe my hubby would love. Thanks for sharing.
My husband adores meat pies of any kind, Judy. This is one I’m definitely going to try. Thanks for coming by!
Ever notice that men do seem to like meat and potatoes, and gravitate to anything in a pie crust? My husband was not a big sweet eater, but if it was in a pie, he ate it. If the fruit was on the table, he’d ignore it, but cooked in a pie…he devoured it.
This sounds delicious. Now I’m starving for meat pie. ;-)
Me, too, Jane! I’ve never tried it with apple and pear, but what an inspired idea. Thanks for dropping in!
Apples and pears go great with pork! I often get a small pork roast and I make stuffing for it. Then I put a little butter in the bottom of my baking dish, arrange slices of pears on the smeared butter, put some bread stuffing/dressing over them, add the pork roast, and then cover the pork in more pear before adding the rest of the stuffing around the roast. (I use toothpicks to hold the pear on the pork.) I cover the whole thing and bake it. When it’s almost done, I uncover it so the pears brown and I get some crispy edges to the stuffing. Delicious. (Oh, I promise there are no calories in anything I make!)
Thanks for that extra recipe! I’ve often had apple and pork, but never pears. That sounds delicious!
I should have said that I make the stuffing/dressing on the stove before I put it in with the pork so all the butter, moisture, onions, celery, spices, etc is already cooked into it. It makes a nice blanket around the pork and keeps the pork nice and moist. It will get a little “wetter” from the pears so you don’t want it too wet to start. What is on top will be drier than what is on the bottom when it’s done.
When my husband and I went to Quebec, we ate at a traditional restaurant in the old part of town, and I had to order Tortierre. It was research for my French & Indian War book. It was delicious.
Enjoyed your post.
I’d love to go to Quebec. What a great place to go to for research. I imagine it’s a city with lots of atmosphere and stories to tell. And great food, too! Thanks for dropping in, Lyndi!
Oh, I want to go to Canada for research like that!! I need to research all their great old recipes!
What a delicious recipe. I’m so happy to have found my way back to your blog, Helena. Always love it here! My husband loves chicken pot pie so I’ll have to try this out over the holidays to give him a change.
Thanks so much for coming, Gemma. Good to see you here! I’m going to try out chicken pot pie – that’s a new one to me. Thanks for dropping in!
Omigosh, that’s hysterical. Who would have thought that northern England would know tourtierre, but not the common, lowly chicken pot pie?
Actually many of these pie recipes come from ways to serve leftovers and stretch the budget. I’m sure it’s been that way for hundreds of years. Pot pie was always my way of coping with that lonely leftover chicken breast.
Chicken pot pie is very popular in America, Helena. You can probably adapt the recipe you already have and substitute chicken for the meat you normally use. Otherwise, you can find recipes easily online. It’s one of those recipes people tend to make their own, so there are many versions out there, but usually it has chicken, carrots, potatoes and onions as part of the structure. And then there’s turkey pot pie… :)
Gemma, let me know what he thinks!
I love coming to Helena’s blog; she’s a real sweetheart!
Really good to get to know you both, Gemma and E. Wish we could all sit down to a chicken pot pie some day :)
Indeed, wouldn’t it be lovely? Someday, perhaps we will, at a writers retreat or convention. E is right, you are a sweetheart, and so is she. Gemma GEMMA JULIANA http://www.gemmajuliana.com
I’ve been eating tourtière all my life. My aunt makes a tangy barbecue sauce to drizzle on top.
Oh that sounds good, Susan! We have a similar sauce you buy ready made here. The most famous brand is HP Sauce, or commonly known as “brown sauce”. I tihink tortiere would go very well with it – although personally I’d prefer E’s apple and pears :) Thanks for coming by – always good to meet a fellow pie lover!
BBQ sounds really interesting.