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Just Like Home: Secrets of traditional Quebec tourtière

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WATCH: For many families, it's not Christmas without traditional foods. So, what makes Quebec tourtière recipe so unique? Global's Raquel Fletcher finds out.

For many families, it’s not Christmas without traditional meat pie. So, what makes Quebec tourtière recipe different from other meat pies?

Well, it doesn’t use ground beef. Instead, it combines large cubes of at least four different types of meat.

It’s first baked overnight. Then, it’s left out in the snow to cool at the perfect temperature.

On the third day, it’s reheated and served to guests. Louis-Eric Emond, from Le Pied Bleu restaurant in Quebec City, reveals some of the secrets of making tourtière.

READ MORE: Just Like Home: Kahnawake traditions run deep in a changing world

To start, you will need a good pie pastry (see recipes below). For more traditional meat options, Emond suggests using wild game like moose, pheasant or deer venison, as well as pork shoulders that he said adds fat, which is important for braising.

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While there was no wild boar in Quebec at the time of European settlement, Emond said he likes to add some wild boar shoulder to his pies, as well as chicken thighs and beef blade roasts.

You can add garlic and other spices to the mixture, but don’t over do it, Emond warns.

WATCH BELOW: Christmas traditions in Quebec

Click to play video 'Just Like Home: Christmas traditions in Quebec' Just Like Home: Christmas traditions in Quebec
Just Like Home: Christmas traditions in Quebec

The basic recipe is meat, onions, potatoes, kosher salt and pepper. The key to a “tasty” pie is letting it cook “low and slow” overnight.

You can experiment, but don’t overdo it. “It already has enough stuff in it,” Emond notes.

READ MORE: Just like home: North Indian spices bring out a sense of nostalgia

Let the meat, onion and spices marinate overnight, then put it into the pie shell, along with cubed potatoes.

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Don’t worry about being a perfectionist. The meat, onions and potato cubes don’t need to be identical.

“Grandma never made a perfect pie,” Emond said.

Then, add water or broth before sealing the top pie shell to the bottom layer with a generous slathering of egg wash. Trim the sides and use them to make a sweet shortbread (see recipe below).

READ MORE: Just like home: Filipinos say eating with your hands shows community, love

The last step is to cut two holes in the top of the pie pastry for two small “chimneys” made from rolled aluminum foil. These will let out heat as the pie bakes.

Recipes

Pie pastry

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb package of lard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • Water

Mix flour and salt. Cut in the lard with a pastry blender until pea size. In a measuring cup, combine the egg and vinegar.

Add enough cold water to make one cup.

Stir the liquid into the flour, until mixed thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for one hour before rolling.

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Filling

Ingredients:

  • 3 kg of meat
  • 3 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 tsp. black pepper
  • onions, diced
  • potatoes, cubed

Homemade broth

Ingredients:

  • Beef soup bones
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Combine all ingredients in an oven roaster, cook for one hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then lower heat to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and let simmer overnight.

Strain broth and skim fat.

Egg wash

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. cream (you can also use water or milk)
  • pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl with a fork until combined.

Shortbread

Ingredients:

  • excess pie pastry
  • butter, melted
  • brown sugar

This is a way to use up all that excess pie pastry you didn’t use while making tourtière.

Lay the pie shell trimmings on a baking sheet, brush with butter and top with brown sugar.

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Bake in oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees Celsius (or until pastry is golden brown).