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My Grandmother’s French Canadian Meat Pies “Tourtiere”


An French Canadian Meat Pie, tourtiere, old family recipe that has been traditionally served at Christmas Eve, with a bit of a modern update from my own kitchen.



Dorothy’s grandmother offered up French Canadian Meat Pies on the holidays

French Canadian Meat Pie, or Tourtiere is a traditional dish passed down in my family, a treat that was served in our family on Christmas Eve and other special occasion. This is my version as I have substituted the local ground turkey and sausage for the usual beef and pork, but if you eat red meat, you may use it here; there are many options for locally raised, sustainable meats. Of course, when my grandmother made a French Canadian meat pie, she used the most sustainable meat possible, that which was raised on her own farm. I’ve also made it with ground soy protein, and it tastes pretty much the same! In fact, one meat eater grabbing seconds didn’t realize he had served himself from the vegetarian pie!

            This makes two bountiful pies, and they freeze well.


Mémé’s Good Times French Canadian Meat Pie “Tourtiere”

recipe for French Canadian Meat Pie


One large luscious onion, diced

1 tbsp. duck fat or olive oil

2 pounds Vermont ground turkey

1 pound fresh Vermont pork sausage, broken up

tbsp. poultry seasoning

1 tsp. dried sage, or 1 tbsp. fresh, minced

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. hot Hungarian paprika (my addition!)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large bay leaf

Chicken stock or water to almost cover, about two cups

One sleeve crackers smashed into crumbs

1 cup local, organic diced potatoes, precooked but still a bit firm

2 Double butter crust pastry recipes

Egg wash


Sautee the onion in the fat in a large pan. Add the turkey burger, sausage, spices, and enough stock to just cover with bits poking their heads up. You can also use just plain water here, that’s what my grandmother used. Bring to boil, cover, reduce, and slow cook on low heat, covered, about an hour, stirring now and then. The house will smell like Christmas Eve!

Remove the lid, stir, and remove some of the fat and liquid that has accumulated. Add crackers and potatoes. Stir well, and spoon back a little of the liquid if need be. The mixture should be very soft and moist, but with no visible pools of liquid.

Pour into two prepared bottom crusts and make smooth. Add the top crusts, and always a little pastry decoration. This is, after all, holiday food, so it should look as pretty as it tastes. I like to decorate with little leaves made from the pastry trimmings. Brush all with an egg wash made of an exquisite organic egg and a little cold water.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 to 50 minutes. It should be golden brown! Check when the house starts to smell really good.

Let set at least 20 minutes before cutting. Traditionally, this was served with a brown gravy, but I like it much better with a wild foraged hen-of-the woods mushroom gravy on the side.


My grandmother Dolora around 1930.

My grandmother Dolora around 1930.