Thursday, January 01, 2009

How We Say Comfort Food in French!

Ah, tourtiere!  A French Canadian Christmas Eve meat pie dating back as early as 1611. The original recipe used local Tourtes Pigeons, which are now extinct.  Tourte also refers to a deep dish pie plate, and I find it is the best dish to use as it gives lots of room for the filling. 

Today's tourtiere is almost always made with ground pork as the largest part of the mix.  Other meats that are often added are veal and beef.  Some Quebecois restaurants use duck breast and duck liver.  My American husband suggests I give you the pronunciation, toor-tyair, as it is a bit of a mouthful!

I have made tourtiere my New Year's Day dish, and I serve it often as a festive winter meal fit for company.  I had my first tourtiere at my grade 5 French Immersion graduation dinner/dance.  It was very different than the ketchup-imbued, all beef british-style meat pie I was used to.  Rich melt in your mouth pork softness, and brimming
 with gentle herbs.  I try to re-create that  taste memory every year.

This year I couldn't find ground veal, so I opted for Buffalo meat.  It added a richness and depth of meatiness that was surprising.  I also used a reduction of crusted port, chicken stock and shallots, which I poured in through one of the vents of the pie crust, half way through baking.  I based this on a suggestion  by Montreal chef,  Frederic Morin of Restaurant Joe Beef.

Typical seasonings include onions, cloves, cinnamon, sage and savory.  I also add Panko bread crumbs soaked in milk to the raw meat mixture.  The pastry has always been a rich one with 13 tbs of butter and 7 tbs of vegetable oil to 2 1/2 c of flour, it almost turns out like shortbread.

I roasted and glazed the carrots in balsamic vinegar, and added maple syrup, chili and finely diced ham to a can of Northern White Beans.  Everything cooked at 425 F for 40 minutes.

Oddly this meal went well with leftover Sparkling wine from New Year's Eve.  The bubbles cut through the richness and the chardonnay was a rich oaky backdrop.  Revel on!

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