Traditional French Canadian Tourtiere

We’re on the edge of a cliff, hanging on for dear life, and knowing at the same time: It’s useless. The car is falling off of the cliff and there is nothing I can do.

That’s how I woke up on Thursday. I’ve been having nightmare’s about car crashes. Last week, we were joyfully on our way to H&R Block to do our taxes. You know how happy that event can be, right? The only weekend appointment they had open was late on Friday night and it had been pouring rain all day. We headed out the door knowing the complete buzz kill this activity presented to us anyway. We were waiting at an intersection to turn left when a car rammed into us from behind. And then again.

I still don’t know how but I acted quickly by pulling the emergency break so the car would stop sliding and stop taking us into on-coming traffic and laid on my horn loudly. I saw the driver jump in the rearview mirror as if he had just noticed what he had done.

And then, he took off. Just like that, he pulled into another lane and sped away.

My first instinct was to follow him but I pulled off the road right away knowing I was in no fit state to drive with waves of pain crashing over my neck and tears spilling down my cheek. The word “hit and run” cannot begin to describe the trauma that follows. We ended up waiting for the police to arrive, calling our insurance, assessing the damages, missing our lovely tax appointment, and sitting at home covered in ice packs. I’m sure he was piss drunk. Now that I look back at it, I’m really thankful it wasn’t any worse than a scratched bumper and whiplash. But I can’t seem to stop dreaming about it at any rate…

You could say, I really needed a pick me up on Thursday after a restless night of sleep and a long day of work!

First up, I needed to know how on earth I say “Tourtiere.”

When anyone asked me, I’ll I could say was, “I’m making a Tort.”

“Your making a what?” was all I got in response plus a bewildered look.

After searching for it on the web, I found out it’s pronounced, “Tour-tee-air.”

Tourrrteeeair. That sounds vastly better than Tort or Torter….as I’d thought originally.

Now, when I said it, it sounded so exotic, “I’m making a French Canadian Tourteeair for dinner.”….and then solving world peace.

I went to the store this time prepared to be confused. And I wasn’t let down. The isles were trying to “unconfuse” themselves and nothing was where it was the last time either. I looked at my recipe to check my ingredients and let my jaw drop for a few minutes.

It called for 8 lbs of ground beef and 8 lbs of pork….what army were we supposed to be cooking for? It’s just a simple dinner pie…I thought.

I knew we wanted to make 2 pies. So I settled on 1 lb of beef and pork instead of filling my cart to the brim with meat. Then, I attempted to find “liquid chicken seasoning” because according to a commentator, broth and chicken seasoning are not the same thing. All I could find was broth, bouillon cubes, and a concentrated packet of liquid broth that seemed like a good compromise. I grabbed up that and a couple of potatoes in addition. One of the commentators mentioned they had changed the recipe for the better by adding potatoes to their pie.

I snatched up the other ingredients including a tiny jar of Allspice for $5 and headed out to my car in time to be pelted with ice rain. I checked under my car. I couldn’t see any black cats in sight. Mystery of the bad luck of 2011: Remains Unsolved.

As soon as my husband came home, we went to work in a good mood. I’ve almost never made anything outside of a pumpkin or pecan pie. Dough and I do not mix but having bought the “ready made refrigerator pie crusts” at the recipe’s insistence, I felt good about it. We pulled out our largest pot.

That’s where the confusion started. We had 2lbs of meat. We wanted to make 2 pies. I went back to the website and saw a reassuring “calculate” servings button that would allow us to scale down the recipe 90% a tad.

I wanted 2 pies. So I put in 2 servings and found out all we needed was 1/4 lb of beef and pork. I went back to the kitchen and to be on the safe we added 1/2 lb of beef and pork. I threw the potatoes into another pot. We’d decided to make 1 pie according to the recipe while the other pie held it’s trust in humanity and would have potatoes added to it to help “bind” the ingredients. Whatever that meant.

That’s when both burners began smoking. Usually that’s a bad sign with an electric stove which, in the past, has caught fire has been a concern before. We quickly rid the burner of the smoking charred granules from past dinners and all was well and intact. We turned our attention back to the pot of meat. My newly printed recipe stated we only needed to add 3 tablespoons of water. But it was supposed to simmer for 30 minutes.

Something was off. We wearily confidently added 1/2 water ratio to meat and set it to boil. I began to mix the dry spices but 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon seemed like an oddly small amount for 2 pies. That alarm bell sounded again in our hungry brains. Something really was off.

We surveyed the recipe. Then it hit us, it is made for 64 servings which yields 8 pies. We wanted 2 pies so…thinking back to grade school…and wondering whether or not we were smarter than a fifth grader, we calculated it down to 8 servings = 1 pie. 16 servings is what we needed. With a roll of my eyes, I ran back to the computer and recalculated the recipe like an irate GPS would.

That’s when it informed me for 2 pies, I’d need a whopping 2lbs of beef and 2 lbs pork. We only had 1lb each and were only cooking 1/2 lb of both at the present. We quickly added the remaining lb of pork and beef and decided we’d only make 1 pie.

I recalculated the recipe for 8 servings, 1 pie, and 2 insane spouses.

We added the dry spices rightaway and the cloves smelled divine while cooking. As soon as the 30 minutes were up, we looked at Step 2.

Step 2 did not make us happy.

We we’re supposed to chill the meat mixture after draining it. Take the excess liquid and refrigerate for 1 hour. Stare at each other hungrily for 1 hour. And then bake it for 1 hour.

There we’re only 3 tablespoons of liquid left so we decided to skip the chill step and add that liqued to the top. We weren’t planning on freezing our pies, like the manic in the recipe, we were eating them fresh.

We poured our meat mixture into the pie crusts we just laid out over a pie dish. According to the recipe, we were done besides adding a pie crust to the top.

Not only did we have 1/2 meat mixture left, it hadn’t dawned on me it was a meat, just meat, pie. The 6 layer dip American in me screeched, “That’s it? Just meat??”

My husband looked back at the recipee which had fooled us…many times within the hour (shame on us or it?) and replied, “That’s it.”

That’s when we remembered the potatoes we’d had boiling. We mashed them up, unrolled two more pie crusts, added the meat and potatoes together and had the second pie we’d wanted. We cranked the oven to 400 degrees and set the timer to 50 minutes.

40 minutes later, my husband jumped up in excitement…or in stark crazy hunger as the empty bowl of remaining mashed potatoes had been licked clean, while I protested. Checking the oven meant letting heat out and I didn’t want to disturb them.

He won. And one quick innocent look informed us they were about to burn to death. They were on edge of the cliff in fact.

We rescued them out of the oven and sat down. To my shock, commentators had also said it was served with ketchup on the side. I happily grabbed it up as we both took a slice of each pie.

Team French Canadian Tourtiere tasted good. I could tell the meat was seasoned. The ketchup was all wrong for a side. The sweet sugary nature completely overwhelmed any taste the meat had at all. But it just meat and crust. And I couldn’t help but feel this was seriously lacking. An all meat pie looked and tasted like a loner who desperately needed friends.

Team Trust Humanity Tourtiere (experimental pie) did not fall to pieces when trying to eat it like the traditional pie. The potatoes did help bind it but they also dulled the taste.

There’s just something that didn’t transfer over with this dish for us. Maybe the ingredients couldn’t be scaled down properly after all or maybe it’s a less “friendly” tourtiere than exists. Or maybe we just don’t know how to enjoy an all meat pie…maybe if we pour gravy or tomato bisque soup over the slices?

I’d think we better. We have 2 meat pies after all.

Find the recipe here: Traditional French Canadian Tourtiere

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4 Responses to Traditional French Canadian Tourtiere

  1. Krista says:

    Omg, this sounds funny! For the US you should looking into making a pasty. They are big in WI and it is just a meat and veggie calzone!

  2. Liz M. says:

    This sounds like what happens every time I try to make dinner without my husband’s help! I think my brain falls out every time I go into the kitchen!

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