Eight tips to making the ultimate holiday tourtiere

This impressive but inexpensive meat pie makes the perfect centrepiece at your holiday table.

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Meat pie

Meat pie

I write about what I crave, and lately I’ve been seriously craving a tourtiere (a meat pie). Whether you plan to make this special dish for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, here are a few tips that will ensure you make the ultimate pie.

Work a day ahead: Tourtière bakes best when a cold filling is added to the pastry shell. It is your best protection against the dreaded soggy crust. Cook your meat filling a day in advance and refrigerate it overnight. You can also make your pastry in advance and roll it out as needed.

Visit the butcher: Tourtière is a pleasantly inexpensive dish to make, so if you are going to splurge on any part of it – make it the meat. Tourtière calls for ground meat – and not all ground meat is created equal.  Visit your butcher and purchase higher quality, freshly ground meat.

Use a variety of meats: Like meatballs and meatloaf, the best and most flavourful tourtière is made with a combination of meats. Ground pork is a must for tourtière, but mix in other meat such as ground beef, veal, or if you are feeling adventurous, some game meat.

Use lard: Yep, I said it. Although bakers tend to prefer butter pastries, there is still a time and place for lard…and in a tourtière it is. Make your pastry with lard and you will end up with the flakiest, most savoury pastry ever. If you don’t have a recipe…use the one on the back of the box, it works every time.

Season well: Don’t be shy with your seasonings. Tourtière recipes call for a lot of spices and seasonings – so be sure to use them. The finished product should be a well-spiced, savoury meat pie. An under seasoned tourtière will be bland and disappointing.

Check you consistency: Once you have finished cooking your filling, if there is too much liquid (different meats and vegetables give of different amounts of water), then dust it lightly with flour and bring it back to a boil to help thicken. Some moisture is good, but if it’s soppy then your crust will suffer.

Make your pastry glow: Take the time to create a design for the top of your tourtière – to make it a masterpiece! Also, brush it with a slightly diluted egg wash to give it a golden hue when baked. Sprinkle with some good quality coarse salt for a delightfully crunchy bite.

Serve with sweet: The ultimate combo – sweet and salty. Serve tourtière with a sweet tomato chutney or spicy fruit chutney to balance the flavour. Also, a crisp fresh green salad will round out the meal wonderfully.

Switch it up: The Chatelaine Kitchen loves a tourtiere. Get inspiration from one of these recipes: tourtiere lettuce rolls, tourtiere meatballs, festive phyllo tourtiere rolls, tourtiere burgers and chicken tourtiere tartlets.

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