Tourtière is a meat pie that came with settlers from Quebec and the Maritimes, where in olden times it was everyday fare. Here in Saskatchewan, the tourtière of old has been kept alive by women such as Rita Marchand of Vonda, whose family gets together in advance of Christmas to make as many as 100 pies, enough to freeze, share and bake for special dinners throughout the holiday season.
They use a recipe passed on by Mémère (Grandma) Lucienne Marchand, whose family moved from Quebec to Prud'homme in 1909. According to the family history, "Having lost her mother in 1908, she started making meals and (doing) household duties at a very young age." She was not yet 10.
According to Settling Saskatchewan by Alan Anderson, there were 32 French-speaking settlements in the province, some created by Métis and others by newcomers from Quebec, the Maritimes, France, Belgium and Switzerland. Between 1901 and 1921, the French-speaking population jumped from 2,600 to 42,000.
As with so many time-honoured recipes, there are many versions of tourtière. For 100 pies, the Marchand family starts with 60 lbs of meat. This recipe is pared down for one pie and is found in Saveurs et Savoirs 2, a tribute to the Francophone community of Saskatchewan.
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
1 clove chopped garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp celery salt
a pinch of cloves
1/4 tsp sage
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed potatoes
pastry for a two-crust pie
Cook all the ingredients together except the potatoes, which are added at the end of cooking. Place the mixture in a pie shell, cover with the top crust (cutting vents in the top pastry) and bake in a 375F oven for 40–45 minutes.
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(This article first appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.)