In Ireland, people would traditionally fast on Christmas Eve until after Midnight Mass - then, they would sneak into the pantry for a late-night snack. In my home in Canada, we would often enjoy tourtière on Christmas Eve. Tourtière is a traditional French Canadian meat pie made with ground meat, onions and Christmas spices. We never usually made ours from scratch - you can buy tourtière to bake from frozen in most Canadian supermarkets - so, growing up, that is how I would have experienced it.

When I became a chef and worked in Canadian-style restaurants in Toronto, we would often serve tourtière. Either as a personal-sized pie, which we filled with a few different preparations of pork (including slow-cooked shoulder and roasted pork belly), served with a deeply flavoured jus, or as a canape, wrapped in puff pastry and served with a homemade Branston-style pickle.

Either way, this pie - once cooked - screams for a good dollop of chutney. Something tangy, spicy and fruity really complements the gently spiced meat.

Traditionally, the pastry is made with shortening or lard, but Irish butter makes an equally excellent pastry. \ Janine Kennedy

I usually make my own tourtière as part of our Christmas Eve dinner, with seafood chowder and buttermilk biscuits. You can eat this pie hot or cold - for me, somewhere in the middle, slightly warmed, is the best way to enjoy it.

There are so many great chutneys out there on the market that I don't bother making my own. My local greengrocers has a delicious homemade mango chutney, or any local supermarket brand will do nicely here. Simply dollop some on top of your slice and enjoy. Of course, you can also go the "true Canadian" way (this is the opinion of some!) and serve it with some Heinz ketchup. Either way, and however you choose to make it, it is delicious.

There is always pork in a tourtière and it is often mixed with minced beef. I like using minced veal here instead and you can get some great quality rose veal, which is ethically raised, in Ireland. It makes for a tender, milder pie which takes on the spices nicely. The grated potato melts into this filling, which adds to the rich texture and thickens the sauce.

Janine's tourtière

Serves 6-8


For the filling:

2 onions, finely diced.

1 Tbsp rapeseed oil.

1 Tbsp butter.

500g pork mince.

500g veal mince.

1 tsp marjoram or oregano.

1 tsp thyme.

1/2 tsp ground cloves.

1/2 tsp ground allspice.

150ml white wine.

2 Rooster potatoes, peeled and finely grated.

500ml beef or chicken stock, hot.

2 tsp salt.

1 tsp pepper.

1 Tbsp grainy or Dijon mustard.

  • For the pastry:
  • 250g plain flour.

    1 tsp salt.

    220g cold, cubed butter.

    1 large egg.

    Ice cold water (1-2 Tbsp), if needed.

    1 egg, lightly beaten.

    Flaky sea salt.

    To serve:

  • Spiced chutney of choice (or ketchup).

    Green salad or buttered peas and carrots.

  • Directions

  • 1 Start your filling by finely chopping your onions. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, add the rapeseed oil and butter. Add the onions and gently fry for five minutes, until soft.

    2 Add the allspice, cloves, marjoram and thyme. Stir to combine.

    3 In a bowl, combine the veal and pork mince. Season generously with salt and pepper and, using your hands, mix well. Add the mince to the skillet and break up into small piece with a wooden spoon.

    4 Add the white wine and let it reduce by half.

    5 While the wine reduces, peel and grate your potatoes. Add them to the ground meat mixture in the skillet.

    6 Add the hot chicken or beef stock and let simmer for 30 minutes on medium low heat. The potatoes will thicken the sauce, so stir regularly to avoid it sticking on the bottom.

    7 While the mixture simmers, make the pastry: add the flour, salt and butter to a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg and mix until a dough starts to come together into a ball. If this isn't happening, add one or two tablespoons of ice water.

    8 Divide the dough in two and shape them into discs. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

    9 Preheat the oven to 190°C and take out a baking tray (to place the pie dish on).

    10 Stir the filling and remove from heat. It should be thickened at this stage (see video for consistency).

    11 Roll out one half of the pie dough and line the bottom of a round pie dish (this is a high-fat pastry, so don't worry if it is crumbly - just patch it together as best you can and make sure there aren't holes in the bottom).

    12 Fill the lined pie dish with the meat filling. Roll out the other half of the pastry and place over the top, to cover.

    13 Roll up the edges of the pastry and crimp to seal. Brush the top with egg wash and use any remaining pastry to cut out decorative shapes. Cut some slits into the top of the pie for steam to escape and sprinkle with some flaky sea salt.

    14 Bake in the preheated oven for around 40 minutes. The pie will be a dark golden brown and the filling will be bubbly. Let cool before cutting or chill completely to cut neat slices. This can be made up to three days in advance.

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