July 13, 2013

As my work partner’s birthday approached, I was having a difficult time deciding what sort of baked good to make for him. He prefers savory food to sweets, but no one else in the office would be terribly appreciative of me bringing in, say, chuck roast with onions instead of a cake. :) Since so much fresh fruit is available in summertime, I was thinking of making a pie instead of a cake, and then it hit me: tourtière!

Nobody I’ve talked to has ever heard of tourtière; they are seriously missing out! Tourtière is a French-Canadian meat pie that’s traditionally served at Christmastime. The typical filling in the Montreal version consists of ground pork (sometimes mixed with ground beef and mirepoix), cinnamon, and cloves.

My mom used to make tourtière about once a year in the winter, from a recipe my dad had found in Gourmet magazine many years ago. I asked my mom for a copy of the recipe, but when she went to get it from her recipe binder, it turns out my dad had gotten rid of it because he decided it was “too rich”! I knew there was a recipe in my Gourmet Cookbook, but when I looked at the ingredients, I knew it wasn’t going to be the same. I remember the crust from my childhood as being very rich and buttery, but this recipe’s crust included baking powder and was described as “biscuit-like.” Definitely not. So I turned to google. This post from the Runaway Spoon sounded promising – her grandmother had gotten this recipe from Gourmet many years ago. I don’t remember my mom’s including carrots and celery, but it was worth a try! She didn’t include a crust recipe, so I used my standby pie crust recipe as it always turns out buttery and flaky.

The tourtière was amazing, just like how I remembered it. :) My partner loved it as well and took a few pieces home for leftovers. (I did end up making a fruit pie too because not everyone would like meat pie and I was feeling generous like that. Fruit pie is to be posted later.)


The fully baked pies can be made ahead of time and kept frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, cool the pies completely.  Wrap them in plastic wrap tightly, then in foil.  To reheat, thaw in the fridge overnight, then unwrap the pie completely and place the pie plate on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F until cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Makes 2 pies



  • 2½  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1/4  cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 5 – 7  tablespoons ice water


  • 1  pound lean ground beef
  • 1  pound ground pork
  • 2  tablespoons butter
  • 1  tablespoon olive oil
  • 1  large onion, finely chopped
  • 2  celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2  carrots, finely chopped
  • 3  tablespoons flour
  • 1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 1  cup hot water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 egg


  1. Make the filling:  Melt the butter with the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot.  Add the vegetables and cook until soft and wilted, but not browned, about 7 minutes.  Add beef and pork and cook until browned through and no longer pink, breaking up with a wooden spoon.  Drain the fat thoroughly from the meat and return to the heat. Sprinkle over the flour and stir to coat.  The meat will start to stick together and no oil will be left in the pan.  Stir in the cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaf.  Add the hot water and stir well.  Lower the heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.  The meat should be fragrant and cooked through with just a bare hint of sauce clinging to it.  If there is more fat rendered, add a bit more flour and stir and cook through.  Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf. Cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator until cold.
  2. Meanwhile, make the crust: Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a food processor (you can also use your fingers or a pastry blender) just until mixture resembles course meal with some small (roughly pea-sized) butter lumps. Drizzle 5 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture. Pulse (or gently stir with a fork) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing (or stirring) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.
  3. Turn dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together and divide into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Form each portion into a ball and flatten into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  4. Assemble the pies: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round (keep remaining piece refrigerated). Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Trim edges, leaving a ½-inch overhang. Refrigerate while you roll out dough for top crust in the same manner into an 11-inch round.
  5. Fill each pastry with half the meat filling, spreading it to the edges. Top with the second pie crust, sealing the edges.  Cut slits in the top of the crust.  Mix the egg with a little water and brush over the pastry top.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and cook an additional 35 – 40 minutes.  You want the pastry golden, but if it starts to get too brown, cover with foil. Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.


  1. I have bookmarked this recipe. Thanks!

    • Thanks! If you make it, let me know how it turns out!

  2. […] to finally give it a try! This was actually the second pie I made for his birthday (the first being tourtiere), so this wasn’t so much for him as it was for the rest of my coworkers. He’s not much […]

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