By JAN MAIN
Tourtiere, the traditional meat pie of Quebec served on Christmas Eve can do double duty during the holidays.
First, as a tempting main course served throughout the festive season from open house, to Boxing Day and beyond to New Year’s Day.
Second, tourtieres make an edible gift especially if accompanied by a homemade pickle or chutney.
Get ready to prepare tourtieres for your own entertaining needs and extras to give as gifts.
There is no better way to say Happy Holiday!
Chicken Mushroom Tourtiere
This is a lighter version than the traditional pork tourtiere using ground chicken or turkey and mushrooms. For the vegetarians in the crowd, substitute about 1 lb/ 500g mushrooms, both white and cremini instead of the ground chicken.
The tourtiere freezes well for up to two months; defrost in the refrigerator overnight and re-heat in a 325 F (170 C) oven for 45 -50 minutes or until heated through.
It is especially tasty served with cranberry chutney and a big green salad.
Pastry for the Pastry Challenged
Makes a bottom and top crust, if the thought of making pastry is too scary, use 2 frozen pie shells:
2 cups (500mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
3/4 cup (175 mL) shortening at room temperature
1/3 cup (75 mL) cold water
Chicken – Mushroom Filling
2 lbs (1 Kg) ground chicken or turkey
250 g cleaned, sliced white or cremini mushrooms
1 cup (250 mL) each, chopped onions and thinly sliced leeks, white part only 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (375 mL chicken stock
1 cup (250 mL)fresh breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat (about 1 generous slice of bread)
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, dried thyme and salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, ground sage, fresh black pepper
Pastry: In a bowl, stir together flour and salt. Using pastry blender or two knives, cut in shortening until fine crumb consistency. Pour water over flour mixture and using a fork, stir together until it clumps. Form dough into a ball. Divide in half for two pie shells, top and bottom.
Place one portion of dough on sheet of waxed paper. (Reserve the second ball of dough to be rolled later for top. Set aside.)
Flatten first portion slightly with heel of your hand. Place another sheet of waxed paper on top of dough. Gripping ends of waxed paper between your body and the counter, roll dough out into circle ½ inch (1 cm) larger than 9 inch (23 cm) pie plate about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, turning waxed paper to roll in different directions forming a circle.
Gently remove top sheet of waxed paper to loosen, then replace. Quickly flip dough and both pieces of waxed paper over. Gently remove top piece of waxed paper and discard. Invert prepared pie plate over centre of dough circle. Ease your hand under waxed paper, holding dough against pie plate with flat of your hand, quickly invert pie plate. Discard waxed paper. Ease pastry down the sides of the pie plate. The pie shell is now ready for filling. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Filling: Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
Using large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook chicken and/or turkey for 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to break up meat. Stir in onions, leeks, garlic and mushrooms. Cook 5 – 10 minutes or until onions are softened. Stir in stock, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, thyme, cloves, nutmeg, sage and pepper. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until liquid is thickened. Cool filling on rack. Once cool, spoon filling into prepared pie shell.
Meanwhile, roll second pastry dough into circle large enough cover filling about 1/8 inch (3 mm). Trim extra pastry edges and save for pastry decorations.
Using fingers, crimp and flute the edges of pastry together. Apply any pastry decorations to top of pie (such as holly leaves). Brush pastry top with egg wash (1 egg beaten and mixed with 1 tbsp (15 ml) water.) Using paring knife, cut vents into top of pastry.
Bake in centre of preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on rack. Serve hot or at room temperature; cut into 6 – 8 wedges.
May be covered and refrigerated; re-heated and served the next day or covered with plastic wrap over-wrapped with foil and frozen for up to 2 months. Serves 6 – 8.