Saturday, December 19, 2009

French to English: Recipes for Christmas, Part 4

Do you know what Lac St. Jean in Quebec is known for apart from the fact that it's part of the Saguenay region and it links up with the St. Lawrence River?  How about majestic lakes, beautiful fjords, miles of blueberry paths and of course...Quebec's famous tourtière?

A chef once told me that if the tourtière is not from Lac St. Jean - or at least made the way it's supposed to be made - it's a toutière that just won't measure up.

Style: "Agfa" Tourtière is a must in Quebec households during the holidays.  Yes, turkey too, but it's the tourtière that hugs the limelight. 

The word itself - tourtière - means a pan or a dish that had legs used in France decades ago, said  Julian Armstrong (food editor and author).  She was interviewed, along with Richard Bergeron (famous Montreal chef)  by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on the subject of tourtière.  The discussion focused on  which is the authentic one, seeing that numerous recipes have come up.

Julian Armstrong says it really depends on where the cook comes from, so tourtière has its regional variations.  Richard Bergeron said that there are four types of spices that go into the making of tourtière:

  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • allspice
  • nutmeg

These four spices go back to a practice in 17th century in France.  In Lac St. Jean, tourtière is not your typical meat pie.  It's more of a large and very deep pie dish with layers and layers of dough.  The idea behind making tourtière is to make it for a minimum of 18 persons.  This explains why a pot with a deep bottom is used.

Some tourtière recipes use ground beef, ground pork (or a combination), chicken livers; in Scottish settlements in Quebec, Ms. Armstrong said the tourtière is made with rolled oats, and among the Irish, potatoes are added.

The debate could drag endlessly about which tourtière is the real McCoy, but I'm afraid you won't get a definitive answer!

Instead of agonising over the genuine from the imitation or the adulterated version, let's get a tourtière recipe translated for you pronto! (Note:  this recipe has cloves, but not the other three spices above and is taken from, from "louisep" - a contributor to the site.

Ingrédients / Ingredients



850 g de porc haché, le plus gras possible

850 grams of ground pork (high fat pork)
3 petits oignons hachés 3 small onions, chopped
3-5 dents d'ail écrasées 3-5 cloves of garlic, crushed

2-3 tranches de pain déchiquetées

2-3 slices bread, torn to pieces

sel et poivre

salt and pepper
1 c. à s. chaque de thym et de sauge séchés tbsp each of dried thyme and sage

1/2 à 1 c. à soupe de clou de girofle moulu (au goût)

1/2 to 1 tbsp of ground cloves (to taste)

Procédure / Procedure

1.  Préparer 2 abaisses de votre pâte à tarte préférée et précuire le fond de tarte.

English:  Prepare two crusts of your favorite pie dough and pre-cook the bottom.

2.  Faire revenir les oignons et l'ail dans un peu de corps gras.

English:  Cook onions and garlic in fat.

3.  Ajouter la viande hachée et cuire doucement jusqu'à ce qu'elle soit complètement cuite.

English:  Add the ground pork and cook in low-medium heat until completely cooked.

4.  Ajouter les herbes et le clou de girofle, le sel et le poivre.

English:  Add the herbs, cloves, salt and pepper.

5. Ajouter, petit à petit la quantité de chapelure nécessaire pour absorber le gras.

English:  Gradually add enough breadcrumbs to absorb the fat.

6.  Remplir le fond de tarte précuit pour qu'il soit généreusement comble et recouvrir de la deuxième abaisse de tarte. Froncer les rebords.

English:  Spoon the pork mixture generously into the pie mold and then cover it with your second crust.  Seal the edges.

7.  Enfourner et cuire à 200C pendant 20 à 30 minutes pour que la pâte soit bien dorée.

English:  Bake at 200 degrees C (400 degrees F) for 20-30 minutes until the pastry turns golden brown.

8.  Servir chaud, tiède ou froid.

English:  Can be served hot, warm or cold.

If you're interested in the CBC interview, you can listen to it here:  It's a delightful interview, with good insights into French Canadian cuisine, back in the good old days!

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