Mémé’s Good Times Tourtiére

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Meat Pies, (or tourtiére) are a traditional French Canadian dish, a treat that was served in our family on Christmas Eve and other special occasion. There is nothing better than a family recipe that has been handed down, and this one takes a little time, but is worth the effort, and you can even make it vegetarian! This is my version as I have substituted the local ground turkey for the beef and pork, but if you eat red meat, you may use it here; there are many options for locally raised, sustainable meats.


  • 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
  • 1 tbsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp. dried sage, or 1 tbsp. fresh, minced
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 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 (homemade is best!)
  • 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.

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