Christmas Recipes from Around the World - Tourtière

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Tourtière (Meat Pie)

Filling Ingredients:
- 2 parts ground beef
- 1 part ground pork
- Pinch of ginger and salt
- Add water to cover meat. 
- Stir. Cook meat. 
- Thicken with bread crumbs. 

Crust Ingredients:
- 5 cups flour
- 2 cups Tenderflake lard
- Pinch of salt

Directions:
Mix together. In a one cup measure, beat one egg and add four tablespoons of vinegar. Fill the cup with water. Add to flour mixture and mix well. If dough is too dry, add a little more water. Roll out dough in portions for crusts. Place one crust at the bottom of a pie pan and add meat mixture. With fingers, dab some milk along crust edges. Add another crust to top, pressing the edges with a fork to make the crusts stick. Cut holes in the top to release steam. Bake at 425oF for about ten minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Their Story: 
Louise and Marie are sisters who love spending time together. Christmas is one such time and the pair are already getting started on their festive meal preparations by late November. The first order of business: a day of cooking, rolling, baking, and freezing their families’ beloved tourtière. 

Their recipes differ slightly, as do the recipes of the daughters who come out to help at this all-day work bee. Like most recipes passed down through the generations, every cook takes a few culinary liberties to make it their own. By the end of the day, 50 baked pies will be lining a table in the garage, ready to go into the freezer for Christmas and the coming year. 

Louise was mentored in this French-Canadian tradition by her mother-in-law over 50 years ago. She’s used the same recipe ever since. On Christmas Day, her Ste. Agathe home becomes the gathering place for four children and spouses as well as eight grandchildren. Marie and her husband join them for the traditional Christmas meal. In turn, the gang gathers at Marie’s home for New Year’s Eve.

Born in the 1940s, the ladies fondly remember the Christmas celebrations of their childhoods. Tourtière was a tradition their mother believed in, too.

“I remember when my mom used to make them,” says Marie. “As soon as they were out of the oven we’d have a piece. It smelled so good, you’d just have to have some.”

Though there was no money for gifts, both recall the live Christmas trees their father would bring home each year, along with Japanese oranges and mixed nuts in the shell. 

“We had a special meal, Christmas dinner,” Louise says. “[Our parents] would invite some aunts and uncles and we’d all get together and play cards.” 

The aunts and uncles were usually the bearers of ribbon candy and cream-filled chocolates. Louise still teases Marie over a memory of a bowl of half-eaten chocolates, left for the others to discover. Marie, it seems, favoured a certain flavour of cream filling, but the only way to locate her choice chocolates was to bite into the cream centre of each one for a taste.

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