French Meat Pie
Recipe by Pat Blais
For a downloadable, printable recipe, click here.
Though not a traditional Christmas dish in the south, I asked my mother for this recipe to include in our holiday issue. A prolific (and excellent) cook, my mother started experimenting with this savory, traditional French-Canadian Christmas pie when she married my stepfather, who was of French-Canadian descent in a family with a strong adherence to cultural traditions. In other words, there simply was no Christmas without Tourtiere.
Tourtiere is a meat pie originating from the Quebec province of Canada. It has become popular in the New England region, where I grew up, due to the migration of French-Canadians over the border in past generations. There is no one correct recipe; historically the meat used depended on whatever was readily available, from pork to beef to rabbit to other game. My mother adapted the recipe to include crushed Ritz crackers, which gives it a rich, buttery taste. It is delicious fresh out of the oven, and as a leftover, either hot or cold. As an option for (or a complement to) the traditional turkey served in the U.S., it has become a mouth-watering flavor of the holidays for me. And it’s even easy enough for me to make it myself!
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
¼ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
¾+ cup Ritz cracker crumbs
Double pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Process Ritz crackers in a food processor until they are finely crumbled
Combine beef, pork, salt, pepper, and sugar and mix well. Place in a pot with about 3/4 cup of water.
Cook slowly over medium heat until thoroughly browned, stirring often to blend the meats thoroughly, about 20 minutes.
Add the poultry seasoning. May add more to taste.
Drain about half, but not all, of the liquid.
Sauté onion and celery in butter until soft but not browned. Add to meat mixture.
Add ¾ cup of the Ritz cracker crumbs to bind the meat together and to absorb the remaining liquid. Combine well. Add more crumbs gradually if necessary until mixture is not soupy.
Adjust seasonings to taste.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with the bottom crust, fill the pie, and cover with the remaining crust. Crimp the edges and brush with egg wash.
Bake at 375 degrees until crust is browned, about a half hour.
Serve with your choice of fruit chutney.