Day 351: Pascal’s Mom’s Tourtière


OK, it technically wasn’t us who ate tourtière for dinner, but I made it. Does that count?

It was the topic of discussion on CBC this morning – inspired by you guys. I have always associated tourtière with Christmas, but only because our neighbour down the alley made it every year back in elementary school, and to be honest I haven’t eaten that much of it, so I’m really no expert. I think I’ve made it once in my lifetime – the Canadian Living recipe, of course. I keep meaning to make it every year, because I love the idea of it, and I love that it’s real Canadian cuisine.

When it was decided I would do tourtière I called my French-Canadian neighbour Pascal for advice, who called his mum in Quebec to get her recipe, which he then translated for me, so I made an extra for him and the family. So at around dinnertime I pulled a steaming pie from the oven and walked it across the street in my Pepto-pink polka-dot flannel PJs and giant Fargo parka I bought at a movie set sale in Vancouver (because when you’re working on the computer at home, why would you wear pants with buttons and bits to dig into your gut when there are PJ pants to be worn? Honestly everyone on my block has seen me more in PJ pants than any regular clothing), instead of setting it on the dinner table, which was really fine with me because a) they were so excited about it, and b) Mike has been barfy all day anyway.

So W and I ate some noodles with tomato sauce and Mike groaned and whined a lot and drank a Coke because he upchucked his coffee this morning and has had a headache ever since. W insisted he eat his in the tub, which eliminated clean-up afterward. His new favourite demand: “get out mine way!!” (Translation: get out of my way, like now.) I told him that’s impolite; he should say excuse me, please. His newest favourite demand: “excuse me please. GET OUT MINE WAY!!”)

The only thing I found odd about this recipe was the partially baked bottom shell for the pie – I haven’t seen any other recipes that require this, and it would make it near impossible to bind the raw top crust with the bottom. Then again, who am I to argue with Pascal’s mom?

So no, I didn’t partially bake the bottom crust, I just lined the pie plate, filled it, topped with and crimped the edges and cut a few slits for steam to escape.


Pascal’s Mom’s Tourtière

Recipe link


December 16, 2008

From Pascal Desjardins' Mom in Quebec.


1 small onion, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

1 1/2 lbs ground pork or beef

2 garlic cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves


salt and pepper to taste

crust for a double crust pie

1 egg, beaten


1In a skillet, sauté the onion and celery in a small amount of oil until soft. Add the meat and the rest of the ingredients, add a half cup of water and simmer for 1/2 hour.


3Place in a partly cooked pie crust, brush top of crust with egg and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.


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24 comments on “Day 351: Pascal’s Mom’s Tourtière

  1. Christina
    December 16, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    That’s very interesting that Pascal’s mom’s Tourtiere doesn’t use potato to bind the meat!! Did you find it crumbly? My mom uses cubed potatoes in her Tourtiere and I remember the meat being crumbly and falling out of the pie (this was years ago and I can’t believe I actually remember that, I was probably 5 years old, I don’t think she’s made it since then!!). Anyhow, I love Tourtiere and am looking forward to it Christmas Eve to have it!
    I also think “Get out mine way” is too hillarious on many levels! My oldest son is going to be 3 next month and he’s now taught my 18 month old son to claim things as “MINE” so it’s a word of choice these days. The other maners we’re working on is “I need milk” and I have to ask … “How do you ask nicely?” but I’m actually thinking to myself “when will you start asking nice without me reminding you EVERYTIME?” Awww the joys! I luckly have my one month old daughter who is still a perfect sleeping angel among my 2 sweet terror boys … who I love dealy of course! The other thing I thought was funny was that they think they can demand things at such a young age! Our house is wild to say the least these days but I wouldn’t change a thing! Thanks for sharing Julie, it’s good to know my boys aren’t the only ones going through these things :)

  2. robyn
    December 16, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Yum!!! I definitely will try making a tourtiere over the holidays!

    Can you ask Pascal – or your readers – if it is traditional to drizzle maple syrup over the tourtiere? My friend Peter does that and I don’t believe him when he says it’s traditional!

  3. robyn
    December 16, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Ok – just saw Christina’s post as soon as my post went up……a one month old, an 18 month old and a 3 year old??? Christina, you are amazing!

  4. Erica Bell
    December 16, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    ok I have to stop laughing so hard it’s making typing difficult! I did notice one thing though – you posted at a decent hour tonight bravo!

    The visual of W eating in the tub was just too much! Excellent way to shortcut the clean up nevermind the laundry! Too bad about M being sick – there seems to be something nasty going around I hope he’s on the mend quickly – also hoping he’s not quite as much of a drama king as dh is when he’s sick 😉

    Hey…it’s Tuesday isn’t it? Who won the fab french goodies?

  5. suz
    December 17, 2008 at 6:05 am

    I love that you kept your old family recipes, in the original handwriting. Those are treasures of family history – protect them well!

  6. Melanie
    December 17, 2008 at 6:44 am

    Beautiful, beautiful pictures – makes me want tourtiere for breakfast. (Did I mention I’m 6.5 months pregnant and can have whatever I want for breakfast? Including your turtle squares from the freezer?)

  7. Anonymous
    December 17, 2008 at 6:54 am

    Although my roots are Irish, my grandparents and parents grew up in Quebec and my “Pa”‘s tourtiere is just like that one except for allspice instead of the mixture of individual spices.
    We would make the pies early in Dec, freeze them and then pop one in the oven as we left for midnight mass on Christmas Eve. I will always remember coming home at 1:30 in the am, sleepy and usually snowy, to the smell of that meat pie in the oven. We’d eat and then go to bed to wait for Santa.

  8. JuneyB
    December 17, 2008 at 7:36 am

    OK it’s official! NOW you’ve really got my attention – not that you didn’t before.MMMM tourtiere. Rose’s turnover filling looks identical to my little Mommy’s recipe & she was from Mattawa, ON. Boy it brings back some great memories-guess what I’m making tonight? Thanks Julie! Last night I drove our illustrious Tucson,AZ neighbors nuts (especially their chocolate lab) & made sausage rolls to put in the freezer. Not much aroma to them cause I didn’t cook’em yet, but I just had to open the windows & doors & put on Ian Tyson’s “All the Good’uns” while I was cookin’ @ at fairly high decibel level I might add. Rah, rah, Can-a-da. Sure beats mariachi music – ha. Tonight…Celine & Tourtiere….mmmm…tomorrow suggestions please!

  9. Barb
    December 17, 2008 at 7:41 am

    I have always been intrigued by the idea of tourtiere also. Enought that I have a couple recipes tucked away and fully intend to try it sometime but “sometime” hasn’t happened yet. It might just be the timing that has put me off. Never enought time at Christmas. The suggestion to make them early in the month and freeze them until you want them is a good one.

  10. dl
    December 17, 2008 at 8:47 am

    One thing I would save in case of fire is a book of recipes my mother saved over the years, she had photocopied from newspapers, typed or written out her favourite recipes and put them in some ‘order’, some alpahbetized, some by course, etc. hard to follow that logic at times! but its so cool to see her writing ten years after she died, to see the old clippings, to remember old favourites and try to recreate them now…sometimes I just browse through it and remember.
    Yes, do treasure the recipes and thanks for sharing them here!

  11. Lee Anne
    December 17, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Tourtiere, yummy! Takes me back to my childhood. It was what you ate for dinner before midnight mass, Christmas Eve. My mom always makes a pork and beef pie, and grates a raw russet potato or two into the mix to bind it. It’s heaven to me. My spouse, on the other hand, despises it. I guess you have to be French to truly appreciate it.

  12. Christina
    December 17, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks for the kind words Robyn … I mostly hear “Christina you are crazy” HA HA HA!

  13. Avery
    December 17, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    A little off-topic… although the tortiere sounds delicious, but I’ve always wondered this: why are they called “Chinese Chews”? Is there anything remotely Chinese about them? This has been pulled from the file with the questions “How come you never see baby pigeons?” and “Do cats have belly buttons?”

  14. JulieVR
    December 17, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    So many questions to answer!

    Robyn: I haven’t heard of the maple syrup drizzle, but makes sense as both are from Quebec… I did have a listener call the CBC studio on Tuesday and tell me his family drizzled some into their filling, but just a tad – not too much!

    Erica: yes it was a miracle that I posted at a decent hour last night. The only reason being that the final edit for my revised version of Grazing was due to the publisher yesterday, and I was procrastinating. Guess what I was up after midnight working on?

    Avery: No idea why they are called Chinese Chews. I always wondered the same thing! And apparently cats, and dogs, have belly buttons. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1/do-cats-have-belly-buttons

  15. Lana
    December 18, 2008 at 7:33 am

    BTW, the anonymous comment was actually from me! (in case you cared)

  16. margo
    December 19, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Don’t rule out that old Canadian Living recipe; I’ve been making it for 15 years, and my kids have gone from calling it “torture” to tourtiere!! The smell is so Christmas, and while the flavors are fabulous (I make it with beef and pork), I also really like the texture, and that it isn’t so crumbly as many. It is bound with broth and fresh bread crumbs, and we absolutely love it. Making it this weekend for Christmas Eve, and no we aren’t French, (actually I’m Scottish), but we are Canadian and we love tourtiere.

  17. Doréus
    December 19, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Topical… as I’m about to embark on my yearly ritual of tourtière-baking (generally 15 of them every Christmas season; they get given around). My recipe (well, my mom’s) is slightly different from this one and requires two types of meat (generally ground pork mixed with ground beef). This year, for a little Alberta flavour, I’ll try making some with bison meat and something else (possibly boar if I can find it in Red Deer). For my friends at Bacon Saturdays I’ll probably try one with bacon in it too… Just ’cause!

    And yes, Robyn, maple syrup with tourtière is delicious. It tends to be done more at sugar camp than at Christmas (when many people drizzle ketchup (yech!) on top of tourtière). I have a friend who puts mustard on his. Personally, I’ll only put something on my tourtière if it’s too dry or the taste’s off.

  18. Elise
    December 27, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    I stumbled across your blog while searching for the Canadian living recipe- I love this recipe. I haven’t made it in years, but began craving it yesterday.

    I can imagine the little one parked in the tub eating his pie. LOL.

    I had my first taste of tourtiere when I was 20- what a treat. It is definitely one of those foods that symbolizes Canada. Happy cooking and Happy New Year everyone.

  19. Julie
    January 16, 2009 at 8:47 am

    I’m originally from Quebec City and for me, real tourtière MUST have cubed meat, potatoes and practically no spices.
    I just posted my mother’s recipe on my blog, which I just made for the first time this Christmas. It was fabulous!

    I think I might try your chutney next time I served it.


  20. Christine
    May 13, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    My kids played in a baseball tournament in Edmonton this past weekend. I wanted to bring something sweet for the adults and spend very little time preparing. Julie had the most amazing Hello Dollies, a sure hit, everyone was fighting for the last one. I decided to make more and brought them to work, one of my co-workers commented they were frickin fabulous. These took literally no time preparing, and no mess. Love It!!

  21. sharon
    September 7, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I learned to make it as Rose’s recipe shows, with some potato to absorb the juices. We also used a mix of ground meats rather than pork alone, since the traditional Tourt didn’t use pork at all, but a wild bird. I’ve eaten it with wild meat mixed in too.

    Did you check Madame Benoit’s recipe? I still think of her as the source for French Canadian recipes, as much as I am grateful to Rose, you and others. She was our first Canadian woman chef. She cooked much like you do.

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