Holidays and Heritage

I grew up in a French Canadian family. There is a large community of French Canadians in New England. I have always been curious about Quebec and the French culture.

Because of my heritage, I have a mémère who is my grandmother. I recently learned that in France these terms are actually insulting. It is the equivalent to saying old hag. However, in Canada these are the usual terms for grandmother. The grandfather equivalent is pépère. My parents go by these terms from my nephews and one day will do so for our children. David and I also would like these terms for us when that time comes.

Every family has different food traditions and one of ours is pork pie. Tourtière is the French word for this delicious dish. Every year my mémère would have all of the ladies in the family come over and she would make at least 10 pork pies for the year. So, sometime before Thanksgiving we would all get together while mémère would make the pies.

Pork pie is always served during the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas especially. It is usually served with a celery salad which is just chopped celery, white vinegar, and sugar. I could not stand celery salad because it was too strong. In the Peterson house, you always knew when my mom cleaned out the freezer because we would be having pork pie, Marquis tomato sauce (future blog), and celery salad.

pork pie1
French Canadian Pork Pie (Tourtière)

2.5-3 lb/1250g ground meat, I used 750g pork (-13% fat) and 500g beef (-5% fat).
1 large onion, minced
3 celery stalks, minced
2 medium potatoes or 1 MAMMOTH potato, boiled and mashed
1 tsp poultry seasoning or italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp ground clove
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
salt and pepper
Pie crust for bottom and top. This will make 4 normal pies or 3 deep dish pies.

1. In a large pot combine meat, onion, and celery over medium heat. Using a fork or spoon work to mash all of the ingredients up.
2. Add about a cup of water to help breakdown the mixture further. When the meat is cooked cover and let simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Be sure to stir every 30 minutes.
3. Drain water and fat from the mix.
4. Add mashed potatoes and mix well. Add spices and adjust seasonings. The mix should be like corned beef hash.
5. Divide mix into pie crusts. Cover with top crusts, make slits for ventilation, and brush with milk.
6. Bake 450 for 10 minutes and turn down the temperature to 350 for 35-40 minutes.

These pies freeze very well. To defrost, leave them in the refrigerator for 24 hours and bake for 20 minutes in 350 oven. Serve with ketchup.

pork pie2

I know it all sounds so weird. Clove, cinnamon, beef, pork, and ketchup, what are you thinking?! However, David said it best when he proclaimed to me yesterday, “I am grateful to your family for two things. 1. You and 2. Pork Pie.” David likes it as much as I do. I was lucky I was able to take pictures because all I wanted to do was stick my face into it.

Give it a try! I promise, you won’t be disappointed!


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