Monday, August 23, 2010

Tortière or, How I Met Joan.

Years ago, long before I had children, I lived in a townhouse in New Hampshire. It was part of a huge complex, inhabited mostly by other young adults. At that time, I guess I was still trying to be just like Olivia Walton and so for the better part of a year, I baked all my bread.

Next door to me lived a bachelor. He leaned (strongly) toward being totally obnoxious, but he had no family around so in a moment of feeling sorry for him, I did the neighborly thing and took him a loaf of freshly made bread.

As I went up his steps, I noticed a new tenant watching me as she unloaded her car of assorted household sundries. She caught my eye because she was rather unique. She was petite and cute with short black hair but the thing that caught my eye was that she wore stiletto heels with straight legged jeans, something one might see nowadays but back then it was, well, unique.

I like unique people and I made a mental note to go over and introduce myself after she was a little more settled in her new condo.

She beat me to it; it was maybe a week or two later when there was a knock on my door. There stood my new neighbor, holding a covered dish of somethingorother and, yes, she had on her stiletto heels.

I invited her inside and put on a pot of coffee.

"I saw you taking bread to your neighbor and I knew right away that this was the kind of neighborhood I wanted to be part of." She was chatty and bubbly and in no time, we became best friends.

Now let me tell you what was on that covered plate; it was a meat pie in a wonderful crust covered with a drizzle of maple syrup. And it was honest-to-pete-to-die-for.

Turns out my new friend, Joan, was of French Canadian descent and had made me my first 'Tortière.'

Tortière, also known as French Canadian meat pie, is traditionally served during the holidays, so come the following Thanksgiving Joan, remembering how much I loved it, surprised me with another tortière. I generally have company over for Thanksgiving dinner so of course I had the roasting turkey with all the dressings but you know what? I got into that meat pie and had not the first bite of turkey. In fact I ate three quarters of that pie all by myself! Wonderful....wonderful!

Tonight I made Tortière:



1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. water
1 1/2 lb. combined ground pork and beef
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. each poultry seasoning, cloves, and cinnamon (according to taste)
Pinch of nutmeg
1/4 c. ground celery
1 sm. onion, ground or minced fine

Combine all ingredients well and simmer, covered for 1/2 hour.

Stir and break up meat several times. Drain off liquid.

Let stand for fat to rise to top. Discard fat and return rest of liquid to meat mixture. Add 1/2 cup bread crumbs. Place in pastry lined pie tin.

Cover with top crust and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until browned. Meat mixture may be made the day before and refrigerated until ready to use. Makes 1 (9 inch) pie.

Of course, I can never just make anything according to the recipe. I change it just a little to suit our taste. This is no exception. I use a tsp of salt, all ground beef, and 1/2 to 1 tsp of the spices. I put a little less than a 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs and then I drizzled about a tablesppon of warm maple syrup over the top after its served on the plate.




  1. What a way to remember a friend. Are you still close friends with this person?? I hope so after she got you hooked on something that sounds delilcious as this..

  2. tweetey, no, I lost contact with her. But thankfully, I still have her recipe. :)

    mister anchovy, I thought of you when I posted this because I know what a wonderful cook you are and I know you are Canadian. Have you made this? If so, is your recipe similar to mine or do you have any little tips to make this wonderful dish even better? (I am always open to suggestions.)


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