Not many dishes spell special occasion more then Tourtiere; a traditional Quebecois dish, with as many versions as regions and households. The Tourtiere is basically meat pie, made with everything from leftover stew, game meat, fresh duck or even sea food. The filing is moist and well seasoned, the crust crispy and flaky. Heaven. Sadly, almost all the Tourtieres I had up to now were made with low quality commercially purchased crust.
Now don’t you look at me like that. I am far from being a food snob, and will not dream of making my own puff pastry, but pie crust is really not that difficult to make. Honest. Especially if you own a food processor. Give it a try. I swear I won’t make you buy one of those buckets of lard.
Just think about the obscene amount of fat these commercial crusts contain. Don’t you prefer to know exactly what’s in it, especially if you are the kind that steals the crispy bits out of every-one’s plate? (ahem)
It is surprisingly simple. And more surprisingly delicious. Go ahead, make someone in your life happy.
Beef Tourtiere a la Ayalla
125 gr hard cold butter or margarine
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold cold water
1 finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp canola oil
500 gr ground beef
1.5 cups grated cooked potato (leftover mashed potatoes will do fine here)
1/3 cup raisins
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste. Be generous.
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1. I like to go ahead and make the filling first, letting it cool down. To start, sauté onions in oil in a deep heavy pan until soft.
Add beef, spices and raisins and stir while breaking up the meat. Cook on Medium low heat. You are not looking to brown the meat here, just to cook it enough so it’s no longer raw.
2. At this point, your pan will be full of juices. Good! add potatoes and water and mix well, watching as the mixture grows thick and creamy. Cut the heat and let cool while you whip up the crust.
3. For the piece de resistance: First of all take a deep breath. All better?
Now dig out your food processor and pour in flour and salt. Add cubed cold butter and start pulsing until butter is shredded. Pulse while adding water until the mixture turns before your eyes into a lumpy bunch of dough balls. Pulse some more until it comes together.
4. Dig dough out of the processor. Kiss processor in thanks. Divide ball into one bigger ball (for the bottom of the pie plate) and a smaller one for the top. Flatten the balls with your hand.
5.Spread a handful of flour on your counter or kitchen table and roll the bigger ball with a floured rolling pin (or a wine bottle) into a thin disc, slightly larger than your pie plate. Carefully, using the rolling pin, lift onto pie plate. Arrange using your fingers and don’t be afraid to tear unnecessary excess on one end to patch up others.
6. Pour in cool (I said cool!) filling and flatten with spatula. Roll out smaller ball and place on top, pinching with your fingers to combine the two discs together. Re-apply cool technique of patching if needed. It probably wont look perfect but believe me, once golden and crispy, no one will notice.
7. With a sharp knife, cut a few decorative vent holes on top of your tourtiere, thus conveniently hiding imperfections. Brush the top of your pie with beaten egg. There! you did it!
8. You are now faced with two options. One: place pie in the fridge until you are ready for it. Two: bake immediately. Start with a 400F for 10 minutes, then lower to 375F until the the pie is lightly golden. That would take about 40-45 minutes.
9. Let pie rest for a few minutes then dig in! Tourtieres are traditionally served with home made ketchup but I just haven’t gotten there yet.