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Everyone knows those people who rants and raves about their Italian/German/Czechoslovakian/Whatever grandmother, her incredible cooking, and the totally amazing recipes that have been handed down for generations. Sadly, I have little to counter with. While the French French are celebrated the world over for their epicurean heritage, the French Canadian are not. Case and point: French Canadians eat frog legs, though on second thought, the French French eat snails, but they have the sense to do it with a lot more panache. My family hails (on both sides, originally) from farms outside of Three Rivers, that I cannot imagine were particularly profitable, seeing as my ancestors cascaded down to work long-ass hours for practically nothing in textile mills in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Our culinary traditions reflect this reality, and we eat pauper food.

I have two Memeres. The differences between the two are easy to list: Memere Dubois grew up on a Quebecois farm, the daughter of mill workers; Memere LeBlanc grew up in Maynard MA, the daughter of a butcher. Memere LeBlanc has replaced her complete Pfaltzgraff set three times; Memere Dubois uses her oven to store boxes of Little Debbie. While they both can, by memory, trace roots back to Quebec, you can see how perhaps maybe their perspective on food might vary. Ever so slightly.

Okay, a lot.

But they, and everyone else in my family for that matter, can agree that Pork Pie is excellent, must be served at Christmas, and is properly consumed only with ketchup.

While Memere Dubois is a lot closer to the heritage, Memere LeBlanc is clearly the cook, which made it difficult to determine what recipe to use. Memere Dubois always buys frozen pies from some little old lady in Pinardville, and these have potato in them, which makes sense seeing as it’s a nice cheap filler. But Memere LeBlanc’s preferred recipe, naturally, called for two pounds of unadulterated pork. I decided to go with this version because it is based on an actual family recipe (the potato-pie version was definitely NOT the one Memere LeBlanc knew from memory), and pork is only $2.99 a lb, so really, it is modern-day pauper food, and thereby even more appropriate.

This is the recipe as written, though by the time this was handed to me, I already had the same pie in the oven. Boggle your mind on THAT, (or don’t…Memere gave me the recipe over the phone).

Today's recipe.

That size is a mite too small to read, but if you had crazy vision, you could see that it calls for pork butts ground twice, which is frankly unsurprising from someone who grew up around lots of meat. The tool I’d procured to follow this exacting direction really didn’t work out, so I had to settle with regular old supermarket ground pork. And the trick, she was done. Along with an onion, that pork is pretty much the only significant ingredient.

That's uh...most of the ingredient list, actually.

Saute ’em up.


End up with this.

A skillet, a beautiful thing.

Drain off the grease. Since I won’t be saving the fat for the War Production Board effort, the easiest method I’ve found is using a sieve—it is MUCH more convenient than spooning the stuff out one teaspoon at a time. I have this convenient sieve that sits in my sink.

That misty stuff is steam.

Hhokay, so. Here we hev our meat now covered by ze water.


And then you simmer that business for an hour, mixing it up frequently to try to break up all the meat wads. If you change your mind and want to make goetta instead (which is German but somehow Memere Dubois grew up on the stuff), you can boil for an additional hour. No word on when you add the oatmeal, however.

Another strain and now we’re going to use your treasured stand mixer. This will accomplish three things:

  1. It will break up the meat into uniform little granules.
  2. It will mix up the spices and milk with the pork.
  3. It will cool the mix much more quickly than letting it sit out.

Best use of my stand mixer yet.It's not frosting.

Finally, after like, an hour and a half, you’re ready to start assembling a pie! Go you! I’ve discovered that refrigerated pre-made pie crust comes out tasting just as good as homemade and also doesn’t make me want to shoot myself in the face, so I’m pretty much never making a pie crust by hand ever again. Just sayin is all.

Finally, we're getting to the pie part.

For some reason, pork pies are always topped the same way: a crust with about a 1″ hole in the middle to allow venting. Knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to pull it off freehand, I found a trick for cutting the hole.

A hole trick.Done and done, my friend.
(you’ll notice I can’t even position a glass in the middle of the pie on my first try, which is exactly the reason why freehanding it was such a terrible idea)

Then I attempted to protect the edges of the crust with aluminum foil.

Yeah, it got too toasty anyway.

It got a little toastier than I would have liked anyway. But at least the edges weren’t burnt, those are the best part!

Pork Pie!

And of course, as any Charbonneau, Levesque or Savoie will shout at you, you have to at least try it with ketchup. Even if you don’t think you’ll like it, that’s the right way to eat it.

With ketchup. The right way.

French Canadian Pork Pie
Coming to you straight from Memere LeBlanc’s memory

2 lbs pork butts, ground twice (plain old ground pork seems to work as well)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2-3.5 c water
1/2 tsp sage powder
1/4 c milk
pinch nutmeg
pinch allspice
another 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
pie crust for a covered pie (refrigerated, frozen or your own—you decide!)

Brown pork and onions in a large skillet, breaking up meat as much as possible as it cooks. Drain grease, return to pan, and add just enough water to cover the top of the pork (this has varied for me from 2 c to 3.5 c). Simmer, uncovered, 1 hour, making sure to stir regularly (keep on breaking up the meat with your spatula). Do not let the meat dry out, though it does not need to be covered in water the whole time.

Preheat oven to 400o. Drain meat and onions again, toss into a bowl and beat with remaining ingredients (don’t forget the extra 1/2 tsp pepper!) until almost cooled. This will take the 5-10 minutes you’ll need to prepare your double pie crust, so if you happen to have a stand mixer, it’ll come in handy.

Bake for almost an hour, or until the top looks done. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving with a side of ketchup.

The end!

Done et up.

nutrition summary: 180 calories, 11g fat, 0g fiber; ~7 weight watchers points


mizike agrees with me, which is enough to be edited in, BUT he also gave me the name of this pie.

Nothing says christmas in Quebec like Tourtiere. Serve it with a side of poutine and a bowl of split pea soup for the maximum french-canadianness possible in one meal.

The Wiki on Tourtière is enlightening and dead-on, we just always called it pork pie. My family never did the poutine thing, but split pea soup is ALWAYS on the stove just after Mom and Dad have made a ham. I salute you, mizike, fellow Franco!

Also, I totally earned some cool points from Adam, and just wanted to point out that I am always accepting cool points. Not that I need them or anything. I may even give them to charity.

  1. G Said,

    i love your pretty blog, but those meat pies have always been a turn off for me. But you know, luckily i’m not your sole reader and my opinion counts…not so much. But EVERYBODY knows that traditional Quebec food is POUTINE!! not meat PIE! please look into that 😀

  2. Libby Said,

    LOVE THESE PIES! My family has been making these for years and my Uncle Jon made a few this past Christmas. YUM.

  3. Adam Said,

    I’m assuming that “Hhokay, so. Here we hev our meat now covered by ze water.” and “The end!” are references to my favorite ever flash video talking about the End of the World? If so, your blog just got about 500 extra cool points with me.

    Oh, and Mmmmmmmm…. meat.

  4. mizike Said,

    Nothing says christmas in Quebec like Tourtiere. Serve it with a side of poutine and a bowl of split pea soup for the maximum french-canadianness possible in one meal.

  5. Mary Said,

    So every people has their version of the meat pie…in Mexico? (Or East LA…where I grew up) we do the tamale thing for the holidays, which is a meat pie of it’s own kind, really, also made traditionally with pork :).

  6. Apollo Said,

    This looks pretty damn tasty. I believe I’ll give it a go sometime soon. Two questions: 1) Does it keep/reheat well? 2) What other veggies might you add to the mix? Tomatoes? Carrots?

  7. Kim Said,

    This looks excellent, and I love the step-by-step photo tutorial!

  8. KimJ Said,

    Cooking Light did a version of this in their latest issue in a feature on Quebecois cooking.


  9. Nicole Said,

    wow a pork pie! that’s something! I imagine myself being swamp with all that meat! hehehehe…

    I bet it taste like a huge empanada. These are hand pies with flaky crust with pork or beef fillings quite good actually when it’s done right and not greasy.

  10. Alaina-Maria Beaucage Said,

    I love tourtiere both with potato and without! My ancestors on both sides are Quebecois farmers who moved to Maine to work in the textile and footwear mills. I live in South Carolina now and we still make these (and pork stuffing, and creton) every holiday and if you have a recipe for split pea soup, I would love to see it.

  11. Mike V. Said,

    “Three Rivers”? Tabernac! Don’t you mean Trois-Rivières? Or is it a different one?

    I haven’t had tourtiere since visiting my Quebecois auntie for Christmas half a decade ago. Thanks for the recipe, I will definitely give this one a shot.

  12. Heidi Said,

    So glad you’re back :) I have yet to try a storebought pastry crust…if you don’t mind me askin, what brand did you use for that?

  13. denise Said,

    This is going to be completely weird and has nothing to do with your recipe…call me crazy.. but… what would be your best kitchen counter made of? Because I’m remodelling the kitchen and there are so many materials (Corian, Silestone, Marble, Granite, Stainless Steel…etc!)…. Do you, as a pro, have any favourite one?

    Thank you!!!

    Crazy Me.-

  14. wasabi prime Said,

    Hot damn, this is tasty-looking grub. I felt the same way about pie crust after a couple of epic fails, but over the holidays I got stubborn and didn’t want to feel like pie dough beat me, so I made several pies to practice making it. I found the best way to keep the dough from getting overworked was swapping the water with vodka. And then giving myself a little sip as well. The alcohol burns off, you get a flakier crust, and the liquor doesn’t interact with the gluten of the flour the same way h2o does, so you still get a workable dough.

  15. Kerri Said,

    My family is French Canadian as well and meat pies are a huge part of our holiday celebrations. We also use a modified version of the filling as stuffing for our Thanksgiving Turkey. We call it “Memere’s stuffing.” My Dad actually had a meat pie shop in Cumberland back in the ’90s called Donald’s Meat Pies. The whole family use to help out during the busy holiday season.

    Our recipe varies slightly. We use a mixture a beef & pork and we include the potatoes. I’m going to give your recipe a shot though!

  16. Adrienne Said,

    Wow this looks all kinds of delicious. This is definitely in my dining future, though I’ll either have to half the recipe or look for more mouths to feed. Both are easily doable!

  17. Mara Bonsaint Said,

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I’ve got Quebecois on my dads side and Acadian on my moms and they never agree on food. My Memere on my dad’s side makes the meat pie and will NOT part with the recipe. I can’t wait to try this :)

  18. » Blog Archive » What to do this Weekend in DC – (Feb 5-7) Said,

    […] French Canadian Pork Pie – Omnomicon – Pork?  Yes Please.  Pie?  Hell yeah.  Together, I am there.  This pie looks amazing.  It combines my favorite things, Pork and Pie. […]

  19. Juliana L'Heureux Said,

    Nice blog, but pork pie is served just as traditionally with diced pickled beets, or bread and butter pickles. Not just ketchup. I have a tradition of making a petit buffet of condiments to serve with tourtiere or pork pie. I prefer to call the pie by it’s French-Canadian name because of the history of the pie in Quebec cuisine. My offerings as sides for tourtiere include green tomato relish, cranberry sauce, horseradish, diced pickled beets and a selection of pickles.

  20. Tina Said,

    ohmygod! Someone who knows pork pie! And can spell memere!

    But sheesh! My memere would whup my ass and call me “petite merde” if I ever considered eating pork pie topped with ketchup.

  21. Mandie Said,

    K… I copied your rainbow cake idea and then started poking around your blog. I am FAR from a cook (I actually don’t even like cooking), so I thought I’d get some snazzy ideas. Can I just say I near fell off my chair when you said Pinardville???? Sheeeee-it. I grew up in Southern NH and think French Canadian food (my husband is 50% FC and has a mom that cooks very FC), is the blandest food ever. So thanks for spicing it up. Apparently, it’s just my husband’s memere and mom who lost the art of flavor. 😛 Oh, and with my last comment professing my love, and then finding this post, I just might start stalking you. LOL

  22. SavvyChristine Said,

    My Memere was the type of memere who made Tourtiere with potatoes and ground beef in addition to the pork. She also used an entire half ounce of Allspice, which is about half of one of those small McCormick containers of spice, and store-bought pie crust as well. She’d send the filling through a meat grinder — but the food processor worked well enough in a pinch. Mon tadzy, I miss her.

    Anyway, I made her tourtiere for my family this Christmas — my first Christmas without her. What I didn’t realize was that I was missing the creton as an appetizer, and cheese curds as dessert. I’ll know better for next year.

  23. lisa Said,

    I came here to find your rainbow cake recipe my friends told me you made and I found cool vintage things.. aprons, earrings, mixers and the green mixer from kitchen aid.. I have the purple… I love the meat pie you made, I want to make that too. I will be back.. I love to cook but you seem to be more french inspired but I like what I saw.. My husband likes my cooking… we never go out to eat… BOOO hoo .. SO I am here to stalk you… Kidding but i like what I saw.

  24. Teresa Said,

    This looks really yummy! But I’m allergic to pork :( *sadness*
    I wonder if the same recipe work with beef, I don’t imagine it will be as sweet…

  25. Melissa Said,

    Just made this tonight…it was a BIG success =D
    thank you, Omnomicon!

  26. Canuck Said,

    We’ve been making tourtieres around the holidays for 37 years. My memere used mashed potatoes in hers, but my mother used saltines (don’t ask me why) Also, we use half pork and half ground beef. My mother was always concerned about serving pork. This dish was primarilly served at the “Reveillon”

    I grew up in Manville, RI. Only spoke French util about the age of 5.

    Thanks everyone, for sharing.

  27. Becky Said,

    I like your otherwise fun and aesthetically pleasing blog, but advising aspiring kitchen chemists to drain the fat down the sink?!? Blasphemy. You may mock saving the grease for the war effort, but you won’t mock having to remedy a viscous cooled-down pork-fat clog from your aging lead pipes! Fat gets disposed of in a jar under the sink, then gets chucked in the garbage. Or, pour it outside on the dog-run.

  28. Beverly Said,

    Mon Dieu! My Memere, bless her, was a FABULOUS FC cook. How about homemade baked beans, made from scratch bread, chicken stew with dumplings, the most tender roast beef or pork, boiled dinners with beef ribs and veggies, boudin, head cheese,fiddleheads, dandelion greens, beet greens,sardines bourdelaise, fricassees,buckwheat pancakes aka ployes, steamed puddings, french toast, cottage cakes and gazillions of pies, cakes, puddings, donuts, etc. Also, salt pork was routinely used to very successfully enhance the flavor of savory dishes. I could go on but hope this is enough to make you rethink your opinion of FC food & recipes. Methinks some research is in order. Also, there may be a generational thing involved here. My Memere would be your (Aleta) great, great grandmother. Final comment; her 4 daughters were also wonderful cooks so I cannot allow their talents in the kitchen to be marginalized. BTW, they never made tourtiere, guess they didn’t like it but cretons was well liked.

  29. Tina Said,

    My grandmother made a different version, cubes of beef and pork were cooked with poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and onion in water until the meat is falling apart. The crust for the pie is made out of bread dough, rolled out as thin as you can make it, with a crust on top.

  30. Bum Bag : Said,

    my mother always buys the best kitchen aids that she can find on the market ”

  31. Pine Wardrobe Said,

    kitchen aids have a variety of different appliances that can help you cook your food easier “`”

  32. Dense Said,

    Meat pies. Christmas. Mom. Ketchup. It all goes together! With this lovely blog post with pictures, I might try my first one! Wonderful post!

  33. Lawrence Mills Said,

    What a coincidence — My mom grew up in Lawrence, daughter of a butcher who owned his own butcher shop/market. All my grandparents were from the Matapedia Valley area of eastern Quebec, near the Gaspe. I have three pork recipes my mom handed down to me — tourtiere (pork pie), cortons (also cretons) which is like a pork pate/spread, and pork stuffing for turkey. The pie and the stuffing both have a little mashed potato in them (mashed without milk, probably to absorb the grease!), whereas the cortons is made with just the ground pork and spices and some water simmered on the stove a good long while, then cooled and refrigerated to solidify into a spread. Pork these days is less fatty and sometimes I have made the cortons and they don’t “hold together” enough because there isn’t enough fat to bind it together.

    My mom explained that all this pork stuff was good for lumberjacks working in cold weather… cheap source of calories. I love my heritage — all my relatives (great aunts from Canada) were great cooks! I make these dishes in winter and it wouldn’t be Christmas without our pork pie! I also make a salmon pie that is delicious as well, just canned salmon mixed with mashed potato and onions and put into a pie crust with some butter dotted on top before the top crust.

    Someone asked if the pork pie keeps/reheats well… I actually like the pork pie right out of the fridge or room temp the next day… same with the pork pie! And don’t add any vegetables, it wouldn’t be authentic… onions, c’est tout!! And I totally agree with Juliana, the right accompaniment for the tourtiere is a relish tray — usually olives, cornichons and other kinds of pickles, maybe some celery sticks and carrots. And in my family, we always put out potato chips… pie and chips for Christmas breakfast… it really is a holiday!! :)

  34. Thom McCabe Said,

    Looking for a mail-order source for tourtiere (french pork pie). Any ideas?


    Thom McCabe

  35. Donna Place Said,

    I just found this recipe and It sounds exactly like my memeres also. I have been looking for a long time to find a recipe that tasted as good as hers. She has been gone for a long time so I couldn’t ask her and she always cooked without cookbooks or notes. This recipe sounds like it could be hers. Even the photo looks like hers – she of course made her own crust….I don’t happen to care for ketchup but I will definitely make this pie….thank you….

  36. Branwen Said,

    Thank you for sharing this. It was a HUGE hit with my French Canadian fiancée who swears it brought him back to the days of breakfast just after Christmas Mass at his me-mire’s house. The only disagreement I have with your instructions is the requirement to eat it with ketchup. My in-law’s to be insist it be served with mustard on the side! I’m inclined to agree with them, as it tastes phenomenal this way.

    Thank you again!!

  37. Jenn Said,

    I LOVE Pork Pies. My family eats it on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. We make the filling as our stuffing for Thanksgiving. Ours has potato in it but it is still super yummy. It’s filling and comforting. I’ve never had it with ketchup because I just don’t want anything to happen to the delicious crust.

  38. international trucks Said,

    This was a great post, thanks for the info.

  39. Julie Said,

    I got so homesick reading this, I damned near cried. My Father’s family was Scandinavian and my Mother’s French Canadian (Quebecois), so I ate all sorts of foods at Christmas my friends regarded as strange. Mom grew up speaking only French until she went to school at age 6. Her entire tribe worked in mills throughout Maine and NH. Unfortunately there are very few left as cancer has claimed the majority.

    I loved the fun recipe layout and commentary. Our family were of the mustard inclination rather than ketchup, and the relish tray was ALWAYS part of Christmas dinner. One interesting twist to the recipe in my family: Ma Tante Priscilla used potatoes in her pork pie, but Memere and my mother used bread crumbs.

  40. Gaston Said,

    Ketchup??? You would lose all the delicate flavors of the pie. Please, pork gravy is the only thing you should ever think about serving with Tourtiere. Our family has always made ours with ground pork and veal.

  41. Sandy Said,

    I am making this right now to take to a potluck that will follow a sleigh ride.
    I grew up in a French Canadian community in Maine and I have been eating this on or around Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. My recipe has potatoes in it — you don’t drain the pork and onion mixture when it is done, instead you add cooked, mashed potato (no milk or butter) to soak up the grease! Mmm mmm good! I have eaten the pie plain, or with mustard, ketchup, chutney, sweet pickles… you name it. Depends on what mood I’m in and what else is on the table. Any way you have it, it is yummy. Now my daughter insists I make it every year.

  42. Mike Said,

    My grandmother war french Canadian and native American. My mother and Aunts started the Pork Pie Tradition at Christmas years ago. You recipe is similar to ours except that we add diced boiled potatoes to the mixture. We don’t do the ketchup thing. We serve it with Dill pickles, Delicious! We ask the butcher to double grind the pork butt. We end up making about ten pies every Christmas because all those upstate NY ploaks and Irish Micks wan t one.

  43. Genevieve Said,

    Tourtiere without potatoes is just wrong! My Memere always used to serve it with a variety of pickles (including pickled fiddleheads NOM) but I suppose ketchup would work. Its not really christmas without tourtiere first thing when you get home on christmass morning. Then chicken fricot and ployes for lunch! Ahh. I miss home now, and Acadian food.

  44. Jane Gariepy Said,

    My mom passed a pork pie recipe down to me too with just pork but my husband thinks he would like the one with potatoes in it so I will try that one! Brings back memories. My mothers mother is English but my fathers mother was French Canadia and also worked in the cotton mills in Fall River, Ma. She also used to cook something called Goudan ? it was made of pork and was kept cold in the refrig and we ate it like a spread on bread. It was so good. I have never found the recipe. I grew up in Tiverton, RI.

  45. Gerry"Leclerc) Kennie Said,

    My memere also used mashed potatoes in hers. Made some for new Years to continue with the Canadian tradition. Soooooo good!

  46. Jane Said,

    I’m baking mine tonight for New Year’s Day – my Mom always used Allspice, cloves, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. By the way, I grew up in Pinardville!!! My grandfather was the Gagne of a grocery store on teh West Side called Gagne et Martel.

  47. John Nunley Said,

    Not that she will ever read this after several years, but Jane Gariepy you are talking about Boudin which is very french, somewhat German, and usually served cold..lots of recipes around.

  48. Sonia Said,

    Nice blog ! Thank you for taking the time to share your recipe. Mine uses porc,veal and beef (as lean as possible, mashed potatoes and onions). I also put a bit of nutmeg and cloves, just to name a few. I am French-Canadian and my parents were raised in both languages (French and English). I loved reading your recipe and the comments that follow. However, there are lots of clichés here…the poutine being our official food, Quebec people being strange for eating frog legs. Please know that frog legs are quite rare in menus here in Quebec, since people do not fancy them. I think you will find more exotic things like ostrich, exotic fish or buffalo on our menus. Also, the grandmothers being called ‘memère’ and so on. The person that suggested serving poutine with tourtière…I hope that she did not mean during Christmas time ! Nobody does that here..that would be like serving a side of junk food along with your nicely prepared turkey at Thanksgiving. And by the way, nobody calls their grandmothers memère anymore…or if there are still some here in Quebec, they are pretty rare. My mom would never allow her grandkids to call her memère, as for French-Canadian people in Quebec, a memère refers to an old, old lady with a crooked back..sitting in a rocking chair. I have distant cousins in New Hampshire and the only French word they know (unfortunately)is memère. That is what they call their grandmother. But here in Quebec, we do not use this word to describe someone anymore. That would be kind of rude. It would translate to ‘little old lady’. Of course, recipes and nicknames change from one area to another and this is what makes this world beautiful. I just thought it would be nice to bring you all forward to 2013. Thank you !

  49. Marieve Said,

    I really like the way you pictured your recipe and that you explained it.
    I am born and raised in Quebec, my grandparents were true Quebecois and cooked with has much pork that they could. My mamie (grandma) would never drain the grease, and she would add lard to the recipe. She would finely chop it and fried it adding it on top of the meat mixture.
    Delicious with some maple syrup ice cream for dessert.
    Thank you for your beautiful webpage!
    Merci beaucoup

  50. Susan Said,

    I can’t thank you enough for your recipe. My Mother’sfamily was French Canadian and this looks really close to the pies they made…and fought over who made the best!! No potatoes!!! And I think my Mother used to put a little bit of gound cloves. Anyway, thanks again. My Mom has been gone for almost ten years and no one in the family has been able to find the recipe. I will be making these for my office christmas party.

  51. Louis Lachance Said,

    Still searching for a meat pie temp reheat!! Merci

  52. tabletki na łysienie Said,

    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for wypadanie włosów

  53. Amber Said,

    I’ve been searching and searching for something relativity close to my Memere’s recipe! She used half beef, half pork and mashed potatoes but the seasonings sound about right! Can’t wait to try this out and hopefully start the tradition back up with my family! Thank you!!

  54. waterbom bali Said,

    It’s look like delicious. can you please explain details the ingredient and how step by step to make that poke pie? But thanks a lot for sharing!

  55. Said,

    You can find various brands of underwear in the market. One popular brandill become a master physicist in December “so I’m back to being the disappointment in the family,” and listened to the beat of their own drummer.

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