Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Manitoba Tourtière Pie by Margaret Ullrich

On Sunday we enjoyed a day at Festival du Voyageur.
We were celebrating a very important part of Manitoba’s history.
The festivities took place in St. Boniface, the home of Winnipeg’s French community.
We had a lot of fun and enjoyed some great food including tourtière.

When we moved to Winnipeg in 1975 we learned about Saint Jean Baptiste Day.
In 2014 I posted the recipe for Tourtière, which had been given to me by a neighbour.

Ma regularly served meat pies as a dinner dish when I was growing up.
In addition to the traditional Maltese Corned Beef PieMa would make meat pies using whatever she had in the house.
Both her corned beef and meat pies were very good.

Tourtière is a meat pie recipe which was created in Quebec.
The name comes from the dish in which it was originally cooked, a tourtière.
What went into the dish depended upon what was available locally.
Well, the recipe travelled across Canada and throughout the New England area, and - just as with any really good Maltese recipe - each area added its own special touch.

On the coast, including the New England states, tourtière is made with fish, such as salmon.
In Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Eastern Quebec the tourtières are deep-dish meat pies made with potatoes and various meats, including wild game, cut into small cubes.

In Montreal tourtière is made only with finely ground pork. After the meat is browned, water, cinnamon and cloves are added to the filling. 
It is served with any of the following: ketchup, maple syrup, molasses, mango chutney, or cranberry preserves.
Acadian tourtière is a pork pie that may also contain chicken, rabbit and beef.

Here in Manitoba tourtière is regularly served during the holidays in Francophone communities. The browned meat is then well seasoned before being added to the crust.

Basically tourtière is a delicious way for thrifty housewives to use whatever they have on hand.
Now that is something Ma would really have understood!


The dough for the crust can be made two days in advance.

Don’t skip chilling the filling. This prevents the crust from becoming soggy. 

The dough that is leftover from trimming can be used to make decorations for the pie.
Either roll flat and use cookie cutters or roll the dough into a rope to make spiral decorations.

To freeze an unbaked pie: wrap well and freeze for up to one month. 
Defrost in refrigerator for 24 hours, then bake.

                        Tourtière Pie


Cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 Cup solid vegetable shortening
Chill 30 minutes.

Also chill 1/2 Cup water.

In a medium mixing bowl blend
2 Cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
Using a pastry blender, cut the chilled shortening cubes into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with some small pea-sized pieces remaining.

Sprinkle over the flour mixture
4 Tablespoons cold water
Using a fork stir and draw the flour from the bottom of the bowl to the top, distributing the moisture evenly into the flour. 
Add more water by the tablespoon until the dough is moist enough to hold together when pressed together.
Divide the dough into two pieces, making one piece slightly larger than the other. 
Flatten into 1/2 inch thick disks, and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. 
Chill for 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.


Finely chop 
1 onion 
1 stalk celery
2 cloves garlic

Thinly slice 
6 mushrooms

Peel and grate 
1 medium potato

In a dutch oven place
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Heat oil over medium-high heat. 
1 1/2 pounds ground pork, beef or veal or a combination
the chopped onion, celery and garlic, the sliced mushrooms, and the grated potato
Stirring frequently, cook until the meat is browned, about 10 minutes. 
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cloves
Pinch cinnamon
Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove the filling from the heat and chill in the refrigerator until cool, about 30 minutes. 

While the filling is cooling:
On a lightly floured surface roll out the larger piece of dough.
Fit the dough into a 9 inch pie plate. 
Spoon the cooled filling into the pie plate. 
Roll out the remaining pastry and place it over the filling. 
Seal the edges, then trim and flute the edges. 
Cut steam vents in the upper crust.
Add the extra dough decorations (see hints).

Preheat oven to 425°F 
Beat together
1 egg
2 teaspoons water
Brush the egg mixture over the top of the pastry, including the decorations. 
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. 
Leaving the pie in the oven, reduce the heat to 375°F.
Bake for an additional 45 - 50 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

Tourtiere Pie, in all its variations, is a delicious meat pie recipe.
I still prefer Ma’s Timpana recipe.
As I once said
Maltese cooking is heavy on simple carbs. 
Maltese go beyond simple into downright retarded.
Well, I’m Maltese, not French.

About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

Before sunrise, look south to see the waning crescent Moon, Antares and Saturn form a trio. Antares is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. Seeing Antares and Scorpius before dawn signals that the shortest days of winter are behind us.

February 26 –New Moon at 9:58 am.

February 28 – Look to the west at dusk to see the tiny, waxing crescent moon pair up with Venus. Then once night falls, grab your binoculars and try to locate the Mars and Uranus above the pair.


  1. Thx for sharing this recipe, Marg. I love tourtière and always have it when I visit Festival

  2. You're welcome, Doreen. Hope you went to Festival this year. It was fun!

  3. Margaret, I grew up with meat pies (English heritage) but had never had tourtière. But my husband, whose father was from Quebec, grew up with tourtière. So I made it for him, and he loved it. I made it in honor of his sister, who had recently died, and posted it in December. Yours sounds really good, too.

  4. Jean, I'm sorry to hear about your sister-in-law. I'm sure your tourtière brought back many happy memories.
    Tourtière is one of those fine old traditional recipes which are always welcoming of variations.


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