‘Tis the season to celebrate and each year the festivities seem to start a little earlier. Get a head start on your seasonal plans and consider these versatile recipes suitable for the entire holiday season.
Traditionally, tourtière was served on Christmas Eve to begin holiday feasting. However, this versatile pie lends itself to buffet dining for the entire season. It is easy to serve, can be made several days ahead or frozen for up to a month, it’s tasty served with a spoonful of chutney, salads and hot rolls, and it can be made with any number of different fillings – pork, chicken, turkey or even vegetables – to satisfy all palates. In short, it is perfect fork food.
For the pastry challenged, keep it simple and use a deep-dish prepared pie shell. Use a second shell for the top and crimp the edges together to give it a custom finish. Cut decorative and functional slits in the top to help let the steam escape and brush the top layer of pastry with a light egg wash – an egg beaten with a splash of water – to give your pastry a deep golden sheen.
I have also included my never-fail pastry recipe and techniques for those of a braver nature who want to make their own delicious pastry.
2 prepared pie shells
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
3/4 cup (180 mL) shortening
1/3 cup (75 mL) cold water
2 lbs (1 kg) lean ground pork, chicken or turkey
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 1 1/2 cups (250 to 375 mL) chicken stock
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh bread crumbs
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, salt and thyme leaves
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each, ground cloves, nutmeg, sage, pepper
Pastry, if making your own: In a bowl, stir together flour and salt. Using pastry blender or two knives, cut shortening into flour mixture until it is a fine crumb consistency. Using a fork, stir in water. Form dough into a ball. Divide into two portions: one third for the top shell and two thirds for the bottom shell.
Place two thirds of dough on parchment paper. Flatten slightly with heel of your hand. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top of dough. Gripping ends of parchment paper between body and the counter, roll dough out into a circle half an inch (1 cm) larger than pie plate, turning parchment paper to roll in different directions to make circle.
Gently remove top sheet of parchment paper to loosen, then replace. Quickly flip dough and both pieces of parchment paper over.
Gently remove top piece of parchment paper and discard. Invert prepared pie plate over centre of dough circle. Ease your hand under parchment paper. Holding dough against pie plate with flat of your hand, quickly invert, and discard parchment paper. Gently ease the pastry into pie plate; trim the edges of pastry even with the edge of pie plate.
Roll out remaining 1/3 pastry dough for top lid and set aside.
Filling: Preheat oven to 425˚F (220˚C). In large frying pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook meat for five to eight minutes or until browned stirring to break meat up. Drain off any fat. Stir in onions and garlic, cook five minutes or until softened. Stir in 1 cup of stock, bread crumbs, parsley, salt, thyme, cloves, nutmeg, sage and pepper. Cook for five to 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir in remaining stock if more liquid is required for a moister filling. Cool slightly.
Spoon filling into prepared pie shell. Top with remaining pastry lid and crimp edges together with fingers or the tines of a fork. Cut slits into pastry decoratively, brush with egg wash. Bake on baking sheet in center of oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting into six equal pie-shaped portions. May be served hot or at room temperature.
If freezing, cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap and over-wrap in foil; label and date. Freeze in coldest part of freezer for up to a month. To serve, defrost in refrigerator overnight and warm in 350˚F(180˚C) oven about 30 minutes or until warm.
Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer ~ firstname.lastname@example.org