Thursday, November 8, 2007


Occasional Baker on a Diet
fourth in a series of eight
Because my baking has been more than occasional, I will be going on a diet for the next few weeks. During this time, I will blog about my very early baking as well as my initial attempts at photographing food. The entire series is compiled here.
This post is also subseries # 2 on my past Holiday baking. The entire sub-series is compiled here.

It was winter when I first arrived in Canada, and my first Christmas was a French-Canadian one: midnight mass followed by Christmas Eve dinner and opening of presents after that. The elements were very reminiscent of Philippine Christmases. Something new to me at the time was the tourtière, a Québécois pâté à la viande (fancy for "meat pie") that is traditionally served during Christmas and New Year's Eve. Since that Christmas in 1995, I have had tourtières almost every year.

In 2005, The Globe and Mail published a recipe by Lucy Waverman, which is the best I've tasted. Tourtières are traditionally heavy, dense with a meat filling thickened with potatoes and a crust made of lard. She modified the recipe so that it's lighter and more savoury. We still found it a bit rich, however, so a year later I tweaked it slightly so it's lighter still. Here is a picture of the pie I made for Christmas 2006:

adapted from Lucy Waverman


Use your favourite non-sweet, fool-proof pie crust recipe. To the flour, add in the 2 teaspoons dried thyme and 1 teaspoon dry mustard before cutting in the fat. You'll need enough for the top and bottom crust of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups chopped onion
¾ pound ground pork
1 ¼ pound ground veal
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried savoury
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup beef broth
¼ cup rolled oatmeal
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsely
1 egg beaten

Heat the oil in a skillet. Brown the onions. Add the meat and sauté until no longer pink. Add the herbs and spices (garlic through ground pepper). Sauté for another minute. Add the broth and the rolled oats. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the filling is thick. If the filling is not thick, add more oatmeal or cook longer. Remove bay leaf, add parsley, and adjust seasonings. Cool completely. While filling is cooling, preheat oven to 450°F.

Fill and assemble the pie. Make 3 or 4 decorative incisions on the top pastry to allow steam to vent. Brush with the beaten egg.

Bake the tourtière at 450°F for 10 minutes, the reduce the temperature to 375°F. Continue to bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the crust is golden. Shield the edges with foil if browning too quickly.

Serve hot or cold, for 8 to 10 people.

To use that trite phrase, this one is truly "from my home to yours" and it's perfect for warming up a cold winter's night.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

This savory pie looks very comforting and tasty! A great recipe for the colder days...



Annemarie said...

It does indeed sound great for a winter's night, though I might need a winter-daytime walk first to generate the right level of appetite to dig into it.

LizG said...

That's a wonderful recipe, Julius. Great pictures. I grew up on my mom's tourtière (I was born and raised in Québec). I wasn't aware you could also use oats in it. I showed it to my mom, and she confirmed she had also used oats in some of her pies. You can also use mashed potatoes. Cheers!

I(dot)J said...

I thought I was made before, when I was looking at the cookies (below). Now I KNOW I'm made looking at this pie.

You seriously have a great skill for baking.

I(dot)J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nora B. said...

Hi Julius,
I got to your blog from DB website. Just wanted to say thanks for the tips about photography. I forgot all about the macro setting and now that I tried it, it works really well!

p/s: I've also been baking fewer desserts/sweets, trying to get rid of some of the winter bulge. We are entering summer here in Sydney.

kellypea said...

This sounds extremely delicious. And as far as the diet goes, eat a very small piece with a very large salad. No starving allowed.

Karen Schuessler said...

You're right, Lucy's recipe is outstanding. I wanted to make it this morning (I make the filling occasionally throughout the year) but I couldn't find my recipe. Thank you for posting a slightly tweaked version. I tweak it one other way, and that is to use 2T. oat bran instead of oatmeal. Serves same thickening purpose, but you don't have to wait so long to cook it and it's invisible in the pie. I also replace 1 lb. pork with 1 lb. turkey for a healthier version, making it 1 lb of each.