Tortiere (Meat Pie) Recipe...Need Answer Soon-ish

Tortiere is of course one of my husband’s French Canadian special holiday foods. And every year I try to make him one. And every year its “ok”. I asked his sister for their mother’s (died before I met him) recipe… and “No recipe, we just add this and that” but I never got any idea about what “this and that” ARE.

On -line recipes are no help. No one in his family will touch onions, or celery or countenence any type of vegetable in their pie. I have added clove powder, various savory spices, always seem to be a “good” but no cigar. He likes the pastry I use, which is basically the Tenderflake Lard Pie Crust recipe, but I add a bit more flour, making a “tougher” crust, not as flakey.

Does anyone have a meat pie recipe using ground pork and ground beef, no vegetables? Also I go back and forth every year… precook the meat or no? Pre cooking makes a drier more crumbly pie, as opposed to not cooking. Since I have no idea how Maman makes her pies, I have tried both ways. I never really got an answer which way he prefers.

I make these with ground meat, onions, potatoes, and seasonings. My friend used to have a pie shop and made a lot of these. The ingredients were a long list, but the key seasoning he used was McCormick Poultry seasoning to get the sage and savory. The meat is cooked ahead of time by simmering in broth. The potatoes will sop up excess liquid leaving the meat moist. If you leave out the potatoes it may be tricky to get the balance. I use simple pie crust recipes, usually adding buckwheat flower for more flavor. My friends made great pie crusts, but you’d need an industrial mixer and a 50 lb. bag of flower to do it his way.

Boy, no veggies at all? I don’t use a lot of veggies, but onions and potatoes are a necessity IMO. Is it possible their recipe calls for some veggies, but they don’t realize it? Mine are all cooked down so much that there are no chunks, and it would be easy to assume it’s completely meat.

I always precook.

Here’s what I do, for what it’s worth. I’m not 100% happy with them - to me, they’re a little bland, but most people I feed them to like them.

For 1 pie:

1 pound ground meat (pork & beef)
3 medium potatoes, peeled & diced very small
1 big or 2 small onions, diced. Or leeks.
1 T. chopped sage
1 t. chopped fresh rosemary
1 t. fresh ginger, grated
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon each allspice, ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg
salt& pepper

Put all in a pot, add water or stock to cover, cook until done about 1 hour. Use potato masher to mash.

Remove fat if necessary.

Put in pie shell, bake ~ 350 for an hour, 1.5 hours for frozen.

Crust for one pie:

2 c flour
1 t. baking powder
6 T. lard or crisco or butter or bacon fat or a combo
1 egg beaten
1/3 cup cold milk

(sorry, don’t have directions for the crust - you must make it like every other pie crust out there.)

I wish I was permitted the potatoes. He even likes potatoes. No potatoes in tortiere Monique, alors none in my pie either. Simmering in broth is an excellent idea.

Replicating the pie of a ghost is tough work. Its really the only thing he is kind of fussy about. (Well, he says “nice try, but not quite right”, smothers it in ketchup and eats it all anyway.)

Even molasses cookies are way easier to get right. Only took me about 3 years, till I stole h is sister’s recipes.

ooh, Athena… thanks… maybe I will try it with the potatoes. No onions though. It would be the holiday equivilent of taking a shit in his stocking.

Bacon fat for the crust. OMG. I have made my crust already but will have to try that sometime.

What about oats? I’ve made tortiere with oats as the filler/binder, but tortiere is one of those things that has a gazillion variations, everyone with their own rules and expectations. (As you’ve noted.) Thankfully, I live somewhere where nobody has a reference point for it, so I can do what I want.

I’m also a this and that kind of cook. This is the basic recipe I follow. I usually add a pinch of clove, and sometimes substitute mace for nutmeg, as well as using allspice. I also generally leave out the rosemary or substitute sage for it. For me, the musts are savory and the “Christmas spices,” but that’s me. I’m not French Canadian, I don’t have much of a reference point, but that spicing makes the pie extra special for me.

Just decided to pop back into this thread and comment that I basically used Athena;s method, with a bit of help from pulykamel and my husband liked it. I asked if it was good enough to stop tinkering with, to use this recipe from now on, and he agreed.

Thanks Dopers!

A couple of tricks for onion haters. Use the onions or leeks, halved or quartered, while cooking and then discard them all or blend some of them and add the paste to the stock. I use lots of onions as flavoring agents in cooking but don’t necessarily serve them with the meal. And a lot of people don’t know that they like the taste but dislike the texture of cooked onions.

You can pull the same trick with potatoes. Cook them with the meat, mash them and then stir some of the mash through the sauce to get the desired consistency.

Although as I go to post this I see you have already solved this one.


So what did you do about the onions and potatoes? Did you add any oatmeal or anything else of significance?

I do this with shallots too. If you dice small enough they sort of dissolve.

Comes from a childhood of my Mom not cutting onions very small. Few things nastier to me than the end of a plate of spaghetti with some whole onion ends in red sauce.

I love a happy ending!

I shocked to hear there’s a French Canadian family that doesn’t like onions. That’s like hearing about an Italian-American family that doesn’t like tomatoes.

I don’t have my grandmother’s old recipe but I do know one of the key ingredients in her meat pies was chicken fat. She’d boil up a chicken to render all the fat and then add it to the ground meat, which I believe was a mixture of beef and pork.

I didn’t put onions in, because hubby personally hates onions. The only thing he possibly hates worse than onions is Gary Bettman. I did put some fine minced potato in it, and cooked the pork/ground beef mix in broth, then when I put the mix into the pie I sieved some rolled oats into the mix to kind of thicken up the broth water.

Result = yum.

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Ummmm…I am not really fond of tomato sauce. Or pasta, unless there’s cheese involved (lasagna and such). I make a red spaghetti sauce with meat, onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic. I remove the solids from the pan to drain the grease off, and then I reserve some of the solids for me, and then proceed to make sauce. Most people love this sauce, but I just don’t care for it. I wouldn’t make it at all unless I was making a lasagna, except that my husband and daughter love it and often request it.

My grandparents used to save all the fat from cooking, and use it. This was a very, very common practice, and sometimes chickens were rendered just for the fat, although of course the chicken was eaten as well.

When I was growing up, just about everyone had a can specifically for grease on the stove. It used to be just any old clean tin can, but now they sell containers for this purpose. Maybe they sold grease containers back then, too, and I just never saw them.

You didn’t marry into the Lovett family, did you? :smiley:

It has been my experience that many people who “don’t like onions” actually just dislike pieces of onions. If you prepare a dish with onions cooked completely apart, they may well love the flavor. One of my best friends will tell you that he hates onions. However, he loves my gumbo. He got a bit of a surprise when he helped prepare it one day and learned that it had a whole large onion in it. (He still ate it happily, though.)

If you’re making something that you can’t cook the onions apart in, onion powder can impart a nice (though different) flavor.

Ooh agreed. For him it is mostly a texture thing. But since his vision is poor, if he even thinks there is an onion in a 50 mile radius he descects every dish. Yes, he scrapes the reconstituted onion off a McDonalds burger.

Flavour fine, its the bits he hates. For sauces I use whole onion.