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(Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
(Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Tourtière Add to ...

Tourtière is the savoury centrepiece of réveillon, the traditional Québécois dinner held on Christmas Eve. Light and flaky pastry is the key to this dish – you want to keep the focus on the subtly spiced filling. Make it ahead of time and reheat at 350 F until piping hot (about 25 minutes.)

  • Preparation time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 2 hours
  • Ready time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Servings: 8 to 10

Pastry

3 cups all purpose flour

1½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (8 ounces, 250 grams) unsalted butter, frozen

⅓ cup cold water

2 tablespoons white vinegar

Savoury filling

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 cups onion, chopped

2 pounds (1 kilogram) ground pork

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon cayenne or more to taste

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon dried savoury

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup beef broth

3 tablespoons rolled oats

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Method

Pastry:

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Grate frozen butter into dough. Toss together lightly, leaving some streaks of butter in the dough.

Combine water and vinegar and sprinkle over flour mixture, a little at a time, tossing together with a fork until the pastry is moist enough to hold its shape when pressed between fingers.

Gather pastry into a ball, it should not feel sticky. (Add a sprinkling more flour if it is.)

Flour the counter or pastry board lightly. With a floured rolling pin, roll the pastry out into a rectangle approximately 8 x 12-inches. Fold the pastry into thirds, like a letter. Turn the dough so the open edges face you and roll out into a rectangle again. Repeat this procedure once more. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill one hour. For smaller pies, use half of dough, larger ones need two-thirds or all of it. Freeze any remaining dough for another occasion. Roll dough out to a ¼-inch thickness.

Filling:

Heat oil in a skillet or heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add ground pork and cook, stirring to break up clumps of meat until pinkness disappears, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and all the spices, stir together and sauté for 1 minute.

Add beef broth and oats. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until pork is cooked and mixture is thick. If it is not thick enough remove the lid and cook until it is moist but not runny. Stir in parsley and remove bay leaf. Add additional salt, pepper or spices as needed. Cool.

To Assemble:

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Divide pastry in half. Roll out half to fit a 9 or 10-inch deep pie plate or loose bottom flan pan. Add filling. Cover with remaining pastry, sealing edges and cutting away any excess. Make 3 or 4 incisions on top of pastry to allow steam to escape and decorate with a few pastry leaves. Brush with egg yolk.

Bake for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 375 F and bake for 45 minutes. If the pastry browns too quickly, tent it with foil until finished cooking. Serve hot or cold. Serves 8 to 10.

Suggested Wine Pairings

A gutsy wine is key, so save the elegant Bordeaux or Burgundy for the roast on Christmas Day. Pork and spices beg for a red that's big on fruit, and the pastry and fat demand firm acidity to cleanse palate. Beaujolais (or the Canadian version, gamay) is perfect, usually light- to medium-bodied and crisp with berry-like fruit. Alternatively, a fuller-bodied and more savoury Côtes du Rhône would chop through this pie nicely, as would Canadian reds based on marechal foch or baco noir. Beer lovers might want to consider a bitter pale ale. Sparkling cider is a nice option, too. Beppi Crosariol

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