Recipe: the traditional (and patriotic) tourtière from Woodlot’s David Haman
By David Haman
PREP TIME: 1 hour
REFRIGERATION TIME: 6 hours
COOK TIME: 1 hour 32 minutes
Makes 3 tourtières
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
⅓ lb cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tbsp cold water
1 lb ground beef chuck
1 lb ground pork shoulder
1 lb ground venison
1 cup bacon, diced
½ large Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 thyme sprigs, finely chopped
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground juniper berries, scant
⅓ cup white wine
¼ cup maple syrup
3 – 4 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp arrowroot starch
2 tbsp water
1 397-g package puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg, beaten
1. This recipe uses pâte brisée for the crust and puff pastry for the lid. To prepare pâte brisée, whirl salt and half of flour in a food processor. Add butter and process until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Add remaining flour. Pulse several times until the texture is sandy; a few larger lumps are okay. Add water and pulse a few more times.
2. Turn onto counter. Form dough into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
3. To prepare filling, set a large pan over high heat. Crumble in ground pork, beef, venison and bacon. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until browned, breaking up meat with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper and reserve in a bowl.
4. In a large shallow pot, cook onions, celery and garlic over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes until softened. Sprinkle with thyme, sage, pepper, cloves and juniper berries. Pour in wine and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes until alcohol aroma dissipates.
5. Add maple syrup, browned meat and enough chicken stock to cover. Reduce heat to low. Taste and adjust seasoning, if you like. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, skimming excess fat from the surface.
6. Meanwhile, whisk arrowroot starch with water in a small bowl until mixed. Stir into meat mixture. Increase heat to medium. Let simmer for 2 minutes until slightly thickened. Adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Let cool.
7. When dough is chilled, set out three 7 ½-inch-wide, 1 ½-inch-deep pie plates. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until ⅜-inch thick. Cut into two 8 ½-inch circles. Line 2 pie plates. Gather remaining dough and shape into one more circle to line remaining pie plate. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
8. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line pie shells with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until dry. Let cool.
9. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a rough 8-inch circle. Fill cooled pie shells with cooled meat filling. Top with puff pastry, gently pressing edges of top and bottom crusts together and crimping. Cut a steam hole in the centre of each pie.
10. Beat egg with a bit of water. Brush over puff pastry, making sure egg doesn’t pool.
11. Bake tourtières in centre of oven for 30 to 40 minutes until puff pastry is golden and crispy. Let cool slightly before serving.
Whitehouse Meats in the St. Lawrence Market carries an enormous selection of hard-to-find game, including the ground venison you’ll need for this recipe. 93 Front St. E., 416-366-4465.
Woodlot’s chef-owner is a mascot of culinary Canadiana. He has a gargantuan wood-burning oven in his cottagey Little Italy kitchen. He’s been known to split logs outside his restaurant. And he cooks dishes like tourtière, the east-coast meat pie he grew up eating at Sunday suppers. The pastry is traditionally filled with pork, veal and beef and can be stuffed even further with game meats like venison and rabbit. Haman cranks up the flavour with bacon, maple syrup and thyme, then bakes the pie in that cavernous oven (home cooks will have to make do with gas or electric). Each forkful is spicy, buttery and epically rich; eating it is practically a patriotic duty.