Christmas Eve Tourtière

It was probably through blogging that I first heard about Christmas Eve tourtiere. It’s a Canadian meat pie, and when I say meat, I mean meat! Ground meats in between two crusts! This dish originates from Quebec. I’m not a huge fan, personally, of a chunk of meat, but I was really attracted to the tradition of serving tourtière at Christmas time.

If you happen to spend Christmas Eve in Canada, you might be lucky enough to be invited to a festive dinner after midnight Mass. The feast is an old tradition from France called reveillon, and it’s something to look forward to after a long day of fasting.

Personally I’d probably have some sherry and hit the hay.

I searched for a recipe online, because I have no French Canadian cookbooks, and found a recipe from King Arthur Baking. It turns out, like many traditional recipes, the specific meats in the tourtiere can vary, even including game meat. The seasoning mixture can vary as well, from the common cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, to also include sage, thyme. savory, and rosemary.

According to a King Arthur French baker, “there are as many recipes for tourtiere as there are cooks in Quebec.”

Well, here’s the recipe I used from King Arthur Baking, and I liked it!

Christmas Tourtière

Filling
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (454g) water
2 cups (340g) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
2 pounds ground pork, or a combination of ground pork and ground beef; or meatloaf mixture
1 1/2 cups (227g) onion, diced
1 to 2 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt, to taste

Crust
2 1/2 cups (283g) King Arthur Pastry Flour Blend or 2 1/2 cups (300g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
10 tablespoons (142g) unsalted butter, cold
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 to 8 tablespoons (71g to 113g) ice water, enough to make a cohesive dough

To make the filling: Put the salt, water, and potato in a medium saucepan, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Boil until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the potatoes, saving the water. Mash about half the potatoes, leaving the other half in chunks.

In a large skillet, brown the meat, draining off any excess fat when finished. Add the onion, garlic, spices, salt, and reserved potato water to the meat, stirring to combine.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Stirring occasionally, continue simmering the mixture for 35 minutes or so, until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are tender. Add the mashed potatoes to the meat mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined. Gently stir in the diced potatoes. Set the mixture aside to cool.

To make the crust: Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Add the butter, mixing it in thoroughly. Unlike a typical American pie crust, this “short crust” shouldn’t have any large pieces of butter remaining; the mixture should look like breadcrumbs. Drizzle in the water, until you’ve added enough water so that you can squeeze the dough together and it’s cohesive. It should hold together nicely; if it doesn’t, add a bit more water.

I always make my doughs on the wetter side; it’s always easier to add flour. And obviously, I used a food processor.

Divide the dough into two pieces, making one slightly larger than the other. My larger one was 15 ounces, the other, 13 ounces. The larger piece will be the bottom crust; the smaller piece, the top crust.

Shape each piece into a flattened ball, or wheel; they should look like big hockey pucks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight, if desired. Next day, let it warm at room temperature for about 30 to 45 minutes before rolling it out.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Select a 9″ cast iron skillet that’s 2″ deep; or a 9″ pie pan that’s at least 1 1/2″ deep. Roll the larger piece of dough into a 13″ circle (for the skillet), or 12″ circle (for the pie pan). Let the dough rest for 10 minutes; this will help prevent it shrinking as it bakes. Gently settle it into the pan, being careful not to pull or stretch it.

Spoon the filling into the crust, gently patting it flat.

Roll the other piece of dough into a 10″ circle, and lay it atop the filling. Tuck the overhanging bottom crust over the edge of the top crust, pinching and pressing to seal. Crimp the edge of the crust, if you like. Cut a circular hole in the center of the crust, or some decorative slashes, for steam to escape. I also brushed the top crust with an egg-cream wash.

Bake the pie for 45 minutes, until it’s golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and set it on a trivet or rack.

Allow the pie to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Personally, with dishes such as this one I always refrigerate overnight to help everything settle. It definitely made the filling more cohesive and the pie easier to cut into slices.

The pie is very good. The seasoning is great. And the crust recipe is perfection. I’m glad I made this! Merry Christmas to all French Canadians!

If I were to change one thing – I don’t think the chopped up potato adds anything, and doesn’t adhere well to the meat when slicing the pie. The mashed potato is more critical.

By Published On: December 16th, 202247 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

47 Comments

  1. BERNADETTE December 16, 2022 at 6:24 AM - Reply

    This looks delicious. Dorothy shared a recipe for Tourtiere with me last Christmas Season. I never heard of this dish until then, Thanks for sharing your version Mimi.

    • Chef Mimi December 16, 2022 at 8:07 AM - Reply

      She might have been the one who first introduced me to this dish as well. Is she still blogging?

      • Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen December 16, 2022 at 8:49 AM

        I can send you the link if you like Mimi! Sally featured it earlier this week on Smorgasbord. It remains one of our family’s traditions, and I make it most years for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, whenever the family arrives. We no longer do the midnight mass thing, candlelight service at our local church at 4:30 is our speed these days!

  2. Charlie DeSando December 16, 2022 at 6:31 AM - Reply

    That looks outstanding. Would love to have that for the holidays

    • Chef Mimi December 16, 2022 at 8:07 AM - Reply

      Well it’s really good, and hearty!

  3. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen December 16, 2022 at 8:49 AM - Reply

    Looks beautiful! My grandmother would approve!

    • Chef Mimi December 18, 2022 at 5:54 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Dorothy!

  4. angiesrecipes December 16, 2022 at 1:22 PM - Reply

    My husband would love this without potato!

    • Chef Mimi December 16, 2022 at 6:34 PM - Reply

      the potato did nothing for me.

  5. Sherry M December 17, 2022 at 2:35 AM - Reply

    i really like the sound of this dish Mimi. who can resist a golden-crusted pie? a meat pie is a very aussie thing after all!

    • Chef Mimi December 17, 2022 at 8:08 AM - Reply

      Oh yes! Well, this one is good, well seasoned, and the crust is fabulous. Really good with cranberry sauce as well.

  6. Jean December 17, 2022 at 10:45 AM - Reply

    Look at that lovely crust and I can imagine how flavorful the meat is inside. Yes, to cranberry sauce to go with it!

    • Chef Mimi December 17, 2022 at 4:57 PM - Reply

      The crust recipe is wonderful. It definitely needs some sauce!

  7. Frank Fariello December 17, 2022 at 2:04 PM - Reply

    I remember hearing about this some time ago, in a video or an article, can’t rightly remember. But I do remember being intrigued. Now that I have an actual recipe, I may finally give this a go this year.

    • Gerlinde December 17, 2022 at 4:00 PM - Reply

      Wow, Mimi, you are did yourself. I have never heard of this dish before, but it looks intriguing to me. I might have to try it one of these days. Eating this after midnight mass would give me a severe case of indigestion. Just like you, I prefer to have a sherry and go to bed.

      • Chef Mimi December 17, 2022 at 4:56 PM

        I know! WAYYYYY to heavy. But That’s what they do, I guess!

    • Chef Mimi December 17, 2022 at 4:57 PM - Reply

      It’s fun if it’s a tradition, and definitely good with some fun sauce or chutney, but other than that it’s really just an unencased meat pie!

  8. Jeff the Chef December 17, 2022 at 7:12 PM - Reply

    What a great tradition. I’ve never heard of this dish, and I’ve also never heard of having a meal after midnight mass. But man, where I have been all these years. I do love midnight mass, if I can manage to stay up that late, and I’ll bet you could easily rewarm this pie. Or set the oven to start baking while you’re in church!

    • Chef Mimi December 18, 2022 at 6:46 AM - Reply

      I can barely make it to midnight on New Year’s eve, and even then I would want a slice of meat pie. But I do like the tradition of it.

  9. Ben | Havocinthekitchen December 17, 2022 at 10:29 PM - Reply

    Interestingly enough that I’ve never made (nor even had) Christmas Eve tourtiere. It looks and looks terrific. And of course as any meat pie, this must be healthy and delicious. Loving the mix of spices, too.

    • Chef Mimi December 18, 2022 at 6:45 AM - Reply

      I’m not sure about healthy! But it is good. I was afraid it would be under seasoned. Really good with cranberry sauce.

  10. Liz December 18, 2022 at 9:36 AM - Reply

    I lived in Canada for a year, but the only thing I learned about their cuisine was to have French fries with salt and vinegar! This meat pie would be perfect for my carnivore husband :)

    • Chef Mimi December 18, 2022 at 5:55 PM - Reply

      Huh. Well I like salt with fries, but no vinegar. And as “adventurous” as I think I am, I don’t think I could ever dive into a platter of poutine!

  11. Ann Coleman December 18, 2022 at 8:45 PM - Reply

    That looks quite good, but I don’t think I could eat it really late in the evening. If I eat at that time, it has to be something really light!

    • Chef Mimi December 21, 2022 at 3:30 PM - Reply

      I can’t think of anything I’d want to eat after midnight!

  12. Ronit December 19, 2022 at 11:24 AM - Reply

    Great looking pie, and beautiful festive presentation.
    I think I could also do without the potatoes in there.

    • Chef Mimi December 21, 2022 at 3:29 PM - Reply

      Yes. The mashed ones make sense, but not the chopped.

  13. franflint61 December 19, 2022 at 2:58 PM - Reply

    Your pie looks so festive and it reminds me a little of a ‘pithivier.’ I agree with you about the short crust. If you leave big pieces of butter in the crust, it will be less flaky.

    • Chef Mimi December 21, 2022 at 3:29 PM - Reply

      Now I have to look that up. I know I’ve seen the word, but can’t remember what it is. Hope you have fabulous holidays!

  14. Debra December 19, 2022 at 7:30 PM - Reply

    What a delicious recipe, Mimi. I’ve never had anything quite like it, with the spices being very flavorful additions. It appeals to me on many levels, but I think the double crust is comfort!

    • Chef Mimi December 21, 2022 at 3:28 PM - Reply

      And this crust recipe was really special. I don’t know how much you cook, but I really liked it, and pie crust is something I can make without anxiety!

  15. 2pots2cook December 20, 2022 at 6:51 AM - Reply

    It’s quite cold over here these days and a slice of this beauty and glass of beer would definitely warm us after the mass!

    • Chef Mimi December 21, 2022 at 3:27 PM - Reply

      It’s hearty and warming. True comfort food!

  16. Anonymous December 21, 2022 at 3:11 AM - Reply

    The first time I ever saw this was when you shared it on Facebook! The tourtiere looks so tasty, and I love your comments always on the recipes about what you would change :)

    • Chef Mimi December 21, 2022 at 3:27 PM - Reply

      Well, taste is subjective, and fortunately I’m not insulting anyone by making my personal suggestions! I was just glad this turned out good!

  17. Healthy World Cuisine December 21, 2022 at 8:56 AM - Reply

    Love this make ahead recipe! Warming and comforting and perfect with a red or mulled wine. Wishing you and your family a very safe and happy holiday season.

    • Chef Mimi December 21, 2022 at 3:26 PM - Reply

      thank you so much. Hope we’re all safe and happy!

  18. nancyc December 21, 2022 at 9:48 AM - Reply

    I’ve never had tourtière, but it sounds like a delicious holiday food tradition! :)

    • Chef Mimi December 21, 2022 at 3:25 PM - Reply

      I’d never even heard of it. But, we don’t live in Canada!

  19. David Scott Allen December 21, 2022 at 3:37 PM - Reply

    I’m with you about the Sherry and hitting the hay! I would need to have this at 4:00pm in order to be able to sleep! I do love the version you shared — much simpler than my Nana’s (she was from Québec). I think I had hers only once as a child — but a friend made one several years ago and we loved it! Will have to try yours, though not for Christmas — I think it’s a perfect winter meal.

    • Chef Mimi December 22, 2022 at 6:39 AM - Reply

      Have you put it on your blog? It would be interesting to see a different recipe. But yes, even in my younger years I would have been in bed at midnight!

  20. Raymund December 22, 2022 at 5:05 PM - Reply

    Looks amazing, not the usual pies I have here in NZ those spices make it even more special and fit for this season

    • Chef Mimi December 24, 2022 at 7:26 AM - Reply

      That’s what I thought. A meat pie, but with flavor!

  21. David @ Spiced December 23, 2022 at 8:34 AM - Reply

    This sounds fantastic! I’ve stumbled across a few French Canadian recipes over the years, and they never disappoint. I like the tradition that comes along with this recipe, too! This sounds almost like a Christmas spiced meatloaf – I’m game to try it out!!

    • Chef Mimi December 24, 2022 at 7:20 AM - Reply

      It’s very meaty, for sure, but I was happy to see that there was flavor. I have a real problem with traditional recipes that are just too bland. I think a little modernization is okay!

  22. Abbe@This is How I cook December 26, 2022 at 2:38 PM - Reply

    Wow! I love savory pies and this is it. So beautiful Mimi, and I don’t even eat a lot of meat! In any case I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that your New Year will be happy!

    • Chef Mimi December 26, 2022 at 7:29 PM - Reply

      I don’t either, but one day it was so cold, I ate a slice, with some cranberry sauce, and it was really good!

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