Sunday, December 19, 2010


I have been on a quest to make "the" tortiere that I will always make. It's a tradition in the Courtemanche household to have one (or 3) meat pies at Christmas, so the past few years, I have been playing with recipes.

I think this is the one.


I made four, so divide the measurements as needed. I cooked it all up in a stock pot (browning the meat in a couple of batches in a frying pan). If you are making one pie, you could do it all in a frying pan, I'm sure. If you don't want to do the math, they freeze really well, and are great "cozy food" for those cold winter nights.

I also used all beef this time, but you could use a combination of ground meats (beef, pork, veal, venison, moose)

6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 large yellow onions
30 or so crimini mushrooms
3 stalks celery
1 family size package of ground beef (just under 2 kg)
4 cups beef stock (1 tetra pack)
8 cloves garlic
3 stalks fresh thyme
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon honey (or sugar)
Salt and pepper
1 egg yolk

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and mash. Set aside. You don't really need to add cream or butter, because it's going to be used a binding agent and will soak up all the gravy. Having said that, I did add a little milk to make it easier to mash, and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

I chose to chop up my veggies in a food processor because I didn't want chunks of veggies, but I did want the flavour. If you would rather dice your veggies by hand, go nuts. It's your pie.

Chop mushrooms, celery, and onions and soften in a stock pot with a little bit of olive oil. At this point, I was also browning the ground beef in a frying pan. Add stock, garlic, honey, thyme (if you have fresh thyme, just throw the whole twig in...the little leaves will come off and all you'll need to do is remove the stalk), cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf. When meat is browned, drain and add to the stock pot with everything else (except the potatoes). Simmer for a while until stock is reduced (you don't want it too soupy, but you don't want it too's that for vague?). Remove bay leaves and thyme stalks. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.

Mix in potatoes, spoonful by spoonful, until it's a good consistency. I didn't need to use all my mashed potatoes, maybe had 1/2 cup leftover, but next time it could be a different story.

I used premade pie shells (the TenderFlake deep dish dealies), so if you make your own pastry, do what you do. I use two premade pie shells per pie (one for the bottom and one for the top) and because there was one year the bottom crust was still a little soggy, I took my Mother in Law's advice, and prebaked the bottoms before filling.

So, I put the oven on 400, pierced 4 shells with a fork, and popped them in the oven for a few minutes, until the bottoms were dry (but not completely done). Once they were done, I filled them full of filling.

I tipped one of the unbaked and thawed pastry shells onto the counter and cut out shapes (for the steam vents). This year, I used a Christmas tree cookie cutter. Gently placed the top onto the pie, pinched the edges to seal, and brushed it with a wash of 1 egg yolk and a tsp of water.

I baked my pies (2 at a time) in the bottom third of my oven, at 400, for about 30 minutes.

Remove them, allow them to cool, and wrap in foil. I usually throw them back in the pie shell boxes to store in the freezer.

To reheat, either cut a slice and pop in the microwave (blech!) or pop the thawed pie in the oven, foil still on it (so you don't burn the crust) at 350 for about 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through. You can pull the foil off for the last few minutes to crisp up the crust.

Don likes to eat his with ketchup and yellow mustard, my Mom likes to eat hers smothered in HP sauce (steak sauce).

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