Tourtière du Lac-St-Jean, a jewel in the crown of Québec cuisine, is a traditional dish that can be enjoyed in a convivial atmosphere, especially during the holiday season.
Each family has its own version of this delicious dish, making the quest for the “authentic” recipe a real challenge.
The recipe I’m sharing in this article comes from my godmother, an expert in the art of preparing Tourtière du Lac-St-Jean for many years. She has kindly agreed to let me pass on her valuable knowledge to you.
The history of the tourtière goes back a long way in the culinary heritage of humanity.
This meat pie is one of the oldest recipes in culinary history, and remains a pillar of Quebec gastronomy.
Although tourtière is a traditional dish, the variations are endless, from the ingredients to the spices used.
However, here is a list of basic ingredients to follow to make a traditional and tasty tourtière du Lac-St-Jean.
Ingredients for the tourtière of Lac-St-Jean :
- various cubed meats (beef, veal, chicken, pork, game, etc.)
- herbs (salt, pepper, savory, oregano, savory herbs, cinnamon, cloves)
- diced potatoes
- chopped onions and celery
Which meats to choose to make a tourtière du Lac?
The choice of meats is essential to the success of your tourtière.
You can opt for a mix of ground and cubed meats for a richly flavored experience, or a combination of wild and more classic meats.
Game or wild meat, such as venison, roe deer, hare or partridge, will add a special dimension to your meat pie. You can also add offal.
If you don’t have any game meat, it’s no problem, you can also use shredded duck confit.
More classic meats include beef or veal, chicken and pork.
What spices to put in the tourtière?
When it comes to spices, the choice is yours. My recipe keeps things simple, using salt, pepper and savory to let the meat’s flavors shine through.
But you could also add oregano or even salty herbs, adjusting the quantities of spices according to your taste and the meats you choose.
A few tips to make a successful tourtière
Here are a few tips to help you make your tourtière a success, which also served me well.
Tourtière can vary from year to year, depending on the ingredients and seasonings used. There’s no such thing as the “perfect tourtière”, but the result is almost always delicious.
Make a chimney on the tourtière
Don’t forget to make a chimney on the top of the tourtière to let steam escape during baking.
The chimney is basically a hole in the top crust, with edges made with the dough to prevent spillage.
Baking the tourtière
Baking the tourtière is crucial, and is done in stages:
- Start by baking the tourtière at a high temperature, uncovered, then lower the temperature to 350°F until the crust is golden brown.
- Next, cover with aluminum foil (or a lid), reduce the temperature to 250°F and simmer for 3 hours.
- Finish with an hour’s baking at 200°F, then let the pie rest at 125°F for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend.
To adjust the consistency of the tourtière, check through the chimney on top towards the end of cooking. If the tourtière is too wet, remove the lid to evaporate the liquid. If too dry, add more stock.
But you will probably have to readjust the cooking times depending on your oven, the thickness of the baking dish and the size of your pie.
What to serve the tourtière du Lac-Saint-Jean with?
Tourtière du Lac-St-Jean goes perfectly with marinades, pickles, pickled beets and fruit ketchup.
And what to do with leftover tourtière?
You can freeze the rest of the tourtière for perfect meals on cold winter evenings or at the cottage.
Alternatively, you can reheat it gently the next day in a frying pan with a little water, taking care not to stir it too much.
Tourtière du Lac-St-Jean is much more than a traditional dish; it’s a culinary heritage to be enjoyed with family and friends.
Feel free to explore different variations to create your own version of this iconic Quebec delicacy.
Enjoy your meal!
5 pounds of your choice of meat, for example:
- 1 ¼ lb. veal cut into approximately 6 to 12 mm (¼" - ½") cubes
- 1 ¼ lb. chicken cut into approximately 6 to 12 mm (¼" - ½") cubes
- 1 ½ lb. ground pork, medium-lean
- 1 hare or 2 duck legs confit
- 1 tbsp. savory (or more to taste)
- 2 large white onions, chopped
- 1 to 2 stalks of chopped celery
- salt and pepper
- 4 lbs of potatoes
- Chicken broth
- 2 large pieces of pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 egg for the glazing
The day before cooking
- Cut the veal and chicken into approximately 6 to 12 mm (¼" - ½") cubes.
- In a bowl, combine veal, chicken and ground pork. Add the chopped onions and celery and savory. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix well, cover the bowl and let sit in the refrigerator for about 8 hours or overnight.
The day of cooking
- The next day, preheat oven to 450F.
- Shred the duck confit meat and mix with the rest of the meat.
- Peel and cut potatoes into 6 mm (1/4 inch) cubes.
- Line the bottom and sides of a pot or roasting pan with pie dough. Allow pastry to hang over the sides of the pan a little to cover the edges.
- Fill the roasting pan by alternating layers of meat and potatoes. Season each row with salt and pepper.
- Pour chicken broth to lightly cover meat and potatoes.
- Cover the top of the pie dish with a thicker layer than the bottom and
and make a chimney on top. Seal the edges of the pie dish and remove the excess dough.
- Brush the top of the pastry with a little beaten egg for gilding.
- Place the pie dish in the oven without the lid and bake for 15 minutes to seal in the dough.
- Turn the oven down to 350F and continue baking for 1 hour (or until you start to smell the pastry and the crust starts to brown).
- Lower the oven to 250F, cover the pie shell with aluminum foil and continue baking for 3 hours.
- Lower the oven to 200F and continue baking for 1 hour. At this point, if the pie dish is too wet, you can leave it uncovered so that the broth continues to evaporate.
- Let the tourtière rest in the oven at 125F for at least 1 hour before serving.
* The cooking times are given as an indication and may vary according to your oven or the size of the tourtière.