These fancy mini tourtières are perfect for the wintry, rainy, blustery weather we’re still having. Don’t be misled by their name or elaborate appearance, they’re essentially meat pies with a savory filling encased in buttery, flaky pie dough.
The tourtière is a French-Canadian dish, and gets its name from the French tourte (incidentally, here’s a peach one I made!) The tourtière most commonly consists of a double-pie crust shell enclosing a filling of minced meat and potatoes, and is traditionally made for Christmas and New’s Year Eve celebrations in Quebec. I actually did make these tourtières back in December, but didn’t get around to posting until now!
Naturally different areas of Quebec have different fillings for their tourtières, ranging from fish at the coast to wild game inland. These tourtières, from Helen Nugent’s excellent Pie Style, are made with a filling of ground pork and beef, mixed with bacon, mushrooms, potatoes, and a handful of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. The kitchen smells completely wonderful when you are making this, believe me.
Most tourtières are also made as full-size pies, but this recipe makes them as individually-sized mini pies, which I think adds to their charm and presentation. It looks like something from a fairy feast in the forest. But do keep in mind, that if you want to enjoy a tourtière but don’t want to take on a entire baking project, that you can by all means make a tourtière as simply as making a double-crust pie shell and filling it with the tourtière filling, no elaborate decorations or painstaking assembly required. Making these little mini tourtières, however, and carefully decorating them, was a incredibly satisfying exercise, if you feel like a challenge.
To make these tourtières, you need four mini springform pans like these, as the shells are assembled in pieces with a strip of dough that runs around the side of the pan, and two circles of dough for the bottom and top of the shell. It’s a bit more involved than a regular pie, but it’s quick going once you’ve done all the work of cutting out the various pieces and decorations. If you don’t have these springform pans or want to try a traditional pie style, I would make two discs of dough instead of the three indicated in the recipe below, and roll out one disc for the bottom and the other for the top. Either way, this is a incredibly hearty and warming dish for a wintry night, well worth the effort.
Tourtière Pie Dough ( 3 discs required)
- 3 x 1 1/4 cups (155g) all-purpose flour
- 3 x 2 tsp (9g) sugar
- 3x 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 x 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, chilled
- 3 x 3 tbsp (43g) ice water
- 4 slices bacon roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 8 brown mushrooms finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 lb (454g) ground pork
- 1/2 lb (227g) ground beef
- 1 russet potato peeled and grated (approx. 3/4 cup, 115 g)
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) maple syrup
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp milk
For the tourtière pie dough:
- You will need three discs of dough for this recipe, which is why the amounts for the pie dough are given as "3 x amount". I find it cleaner to make each disc one at a time to ensure consistency, but if you have a food processor with a large amount capacity, you can make the entire amount at once and divide into three equal portions.
- Fill a small bowl with cold water and ice cubes and set aside.
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
- Cut butter into 1 inch pieces and add to the processor. Pulse several times to cut into the flour mixture and coat the butter pieces.
- Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing a few times to combine.
- After all the water has been added, continue pulsing until the dough begins to come together. It should not fully combine into a solid ball.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press together into a ball and flatten into a disc about an inch thick. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Repeat twice for two more discs of dough.
For the filling:
- In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to a small bowl, leaving the rendered fat from bacon in the skillet.
- Put garlic and onion in the same skillet, and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until onion has softened.
- Add mushrooms to the mixture and cook about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the wine, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring mixture to a boil and stir until liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to the mixture and stir to incorporate.
- Add ground pork and beef and cook, breaking up any lumps, until meat is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the bacon back in, along with the grated potato, and cook until potato begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the maple syrup and stir to combine. Remove filling from heat and let cool to room temperature.
To prepare the tourtière dough pieces:
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Take out one disc of dough from the refrigerator. Roll out disc on a lightly floured surface to a 10 inch square. Cut about 24 1-inch leaves or other decorations out with cutters of your choice and place on one of the baking sheets.
- Reroll the dough scraps and cut out eight 1/4×6-inch dough strips. Intertwine two strips at a time to form a 2-strand braid. Make four braids with dough strips and place on the baking sheet with the leaf decorations. Place baking sheet back in refrigerator to chill.
- Take out the second disc of dough from the refrigerator. Roll out disc on a lightly floured surface, adding any scraps from the first disc, to a 12 inch square. You can use an embossing rolling pin or impression mat to emboss the dough if you desire at this point.
- Cut four 2 1/2 x 12-inch strips from the square and place on the second baking sheet.
- Take out the third disc of dough from the refrigerator. Roll out disc on a lightly floured surface, adding any scraps from previously, to a 12 inch square. You can use an embossing rolling pin or impression mat to emboss the dough if you desire at this point.
- Cut eight 4-inch round circles of dough and place on the second baking sheet. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for at least 10 minutes. Reserve any remaining scraps of dough for patching as needed when you assemble the tourtières.
To assemble the tourtières:
- Whisk together the egg and milk in a small bowl and set aside.
- Lightly grease the sides and bottoms of four 4" round x 2" high springform pans with removable bottoms.
- Remove the baking sheet with the four 2 1/2 x 12-inch strips and eight 4-inch circles from the refrigerator. Gently fit one strip of dough around the inside of one springform pan with the embossed side facing outward. Make sure the ends overlap by about 1/4 inch. Brush a little egg wash to seal the strip together.
- Brush a little egg wash around the bottom border of the strip. Gently fit one of the 4-inch circles of dough into the bottom of the pan, with the embossed side facing down. Gently press the edges into the bottom of the dough strip to seal them together and create a shell for the filling. Trim away any excess dough sticking above the trop of the springform pan.
- Repeat the process for placing the side and bottom pieces of dough for the remaining three springform pans. Place all four springform pans in the freezer for 10 minutes to let the dough firm up.
- Remove springform pans from freezer and divide tourtière filling among them, filling to the top of the pans.
- Brush a little egg wash around the top edge of the dough strip, and place the remaining four dough circles on top, with the embossed side facing out. Press the edges down and around the side strip of dough to seal the entire dough shell together.
- Brush the tops of the tourtières with egg wash. Place a dough braid around one half of the top edge of the tourtière. Arrange leaf decorations on the other half. Brush all the decorations with egg wash and place decorated tourtières in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place tourtières on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
- Let pies cool for 30 minute before releasing from the springform pans and serving. The pies can also be baked ahead of time and stored tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. The unbaked pies can be stored tightly wrapped in the freezer for up to 3 months, and then baked from frozen.