Does that sound somehow disappointing? It wasn’t. Tourtière is, after all, a beautiful and truly Canadian dish, not to mention delicious as leftovers. I made the tourtière on Sunday because it takes a little more time than I figured I’d have today. For our actual Canada Day dinner, we had a simple picnic. Were we shirking our duties as Canucks? No! Most Canadians picnic or barbecue for Canada Day. Tourtière is actually more of a Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve tradition, with some eating it on Christmas Day. But I couldn’t let a Canadian-themed week go by without making tourtière. It’s that good.
As you might guess from the name, tourtière (pronounced toor-tee-AIR if you’re Anglo, toohr-tsi-EHRR if you want to try Quebecois pronunciation) is a French Canadian dish, though it’s popular enough in English Canada too. Essentially, it’s a spiced meat pie. Every francophone chef has his or her own version. Some call for pork only, some call for a mix of meats, some call for game meats, and I’ve even heard of fish versions. Some are heavily spiced; others more lightly so. Most versions use ground meat but some call for cubes. Some call for potatoes, some not; some call for other vegetables too. Of those who call for potatoes, some tell you to use mashed potato, others say dice, still others use grated.
Since I don’t have a mémère québecoise (AKA grand-maman), I’m not wedded to any particular tradition. In fact, I haven’t even had tourtière in many years. So my primary concern was to make something that would be tasty to me and my family, including two picky little girls. Therefore, the version I came up with was on the more lightly spiced side, though it still decidedly had that tourtière taste. I used grated potatoes, a mix of pork and beef, and my hard-won foolproof gluten-free pie crust. It came out delicious and hearty. My kids loved it, my husband loved it, and we had enough to freeze for leftovers. Yay, yay, and yay!
Tourtière (gluten-free, low-FODMAP)
- 1 double-crust, deep-dish pie shell, gluten-free if required*
- 2 large potatoes, coarsely grated
- 1 large celery stalk, minced
- 400 grams lean ground pork
- 400 grams lean ground beef
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- A few good glugs of dry red wine (could substitute beef broth)
- Cooking oil spray
* I used my foolproof gluten-free pie crust recipe in a casserole dish rather than a pie plate. Instead of making four equal-sized balls of pastry dough as stated in the recipe, I used the largest ball (I weighed it and it was 230 grams) for the bottom and the smallest (200 g) for the top. If you prefer, you could probably make two shallower pies out of the quantity of filling provided for here.
- Preheat oven to medium-high (400 F / 200 C / 180 fan).**
- Spray bottom of large pot with oil. Mix together all ingredients except pie crust and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until meat is completely browned and grated potatoes are cooked. You want this mixture to be fairly moist throughout most of the cooking process. The bay leaves need to be in something fairly liquid to work their magic, so use as much wine or beef broth as needed to keep the mixture moist without being soupy. When everything is pretty much cooked, remove the bay leaves and cook just a little longer, until mixture dries out just a bit. You don’t want dry, crumbly filling but you don’t want soggy either.
- Spoon the hot filling into pie shell and top with the rest of the crust. Decorate if desired and cut steam vents.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, until both top and bottom of crust are golden. If top starts looking browned before bottom is well-baked, place foil loosely on the top. Serve hot. This dish also freezes well.
**If making in advance, meaning the filling isn’t hot when you put the pie in the oven, it may be advisable to bake a little longer at a slightly lower temperature, so everything gets piping hot before the top gets too brown. Again, if you’re concerned, you can put foil loosely on top o prevent further browning.