Monday, December 19, 2011
Christmas Eve Pork Pie
I'm a mutt: Austrian and Irish on my father's side, and Scottish, French and Canadian on my mother's.
Sometimes I think I must be related to half of Canada. My maternal grandfather's family can be traced to the late 17th century, when the first ancestor left France and set foot on this side of the Atlantic. For generation after generation, it shows that virtually every surviving male married, fathered perhaps 16 children, remarried after his wife died, and had another 13 or so children with his second wife. I violated the tradition by having only one child!
But I continue the French Canadian tradition of serving pork pie - known as Tourtière [tohr-tee-AIR] - on Christmas Eve.
Yes, I also eat Chinese food on Christmas Eve like every good Jewish person who's not celebrating the big holiday (even though I do still put up a tree and exchange gifts with loved ones). But everyone knows I'm always here for the food; enjoying two wildly different cuisines just makes things more fun!
This is not a family recipe handed down through the decades, but rather one I've cobbled together myself. My mother's version had great flavor; but the meat was very loose and fell out of the crust, which is typical of every other recipe I've seen for this classic dish. So in addition to tweaking the filling by combining both pork and sausage, I've also added egg to bind everything together.
I'm sharing this with you a bit early because you need to make the filling and chill it before placing it into the pie crust and baking it. According to lore, wives' tales, or whatever else you'd like to call it, the pie is also best if made, frozen, and then reheated. I'm not usually efficient enough to do that, and this pork pie is still a family favorite ... start your preparations a day ahead, serve it for Christmas Eve, and you'll love it anyway!
Tourtière (French Canadian Pork Pie)
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
1 pound ground pork
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Spike Salt-Free All-Purpose Gourmet Natural Seasoning (a lovely marketing gift) or Mrs. Dash
2 large bay leaves
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 pie crusts (for a double-crust pie)
1 egg yolk + 2 tablespoons water
In a large saucepan, combine the sausage and the pork; brown the meat, breaking it up as it cooks. Add the onion, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and seasoning; cook until the onion is translucent, stirring frequently. Add the bay leaves and the chicken stock; bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed. Place filling into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until cold.
Preheat oven to 425F. Roll out one crust and place it into a 9" pie dish.
Stir the 2 eggs into the pork filling, then spoon filling into the pie dish. Cover with the remaining crust, crimp edges, and cut slits into the top.
Beat the egg yolk with the water and brush the egg wash over the pie.
Bake for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350F. Bake for 40-45 more minutes until the pie is golden. Let the pie rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
Makes 8 servings.
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