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Traditional Christmas Eve & New Year's Eve Meat Pies

Enjoy the story behind this old recipe designed to make easier the responsibilities of the woman of the house on busy holiday and religious evenings.

Traditional Christmas Eve & New Year's Eve Meat Pies Traditional Christmas Eve & New Year's Eve Meat Pies

Please welcome guest chef W. David LeVasseur, a Clinton resident, to the "In the Kitchen with Fay" series. He shares his recipe for French-Canadian Tortierre and the history behind the dish.

In certain 15th Century French Counties, most notably Brittany and Normandy, it was customary for the mother of the family to make a Tortierre on both Christmas eve and other holidays such as New Year’s Eve. 

The reason was simple: Most Roman Catholic holidays required the celebration of an evening or what has now become known as “midnight” Mass.  As mother was required to attend, along with the rest of the family, a simple dish needed to be embraced by both “the culture” and “the church.”

Accordingly, a meal prepared in advance, that could cook while the family celebrated Mass, made “La Mere’s” life easier. 

Voila, “La Tortierre” was born!

19th Century Maine French Canadians added potatoes to the meat. The choice is up to you!  Either way nothing makes the house smell more like the holidays then when this dish is baking.

French-Canadian Tortierre

makes 2 two small 9" or one deep-dish 12" pie.  If you are going to
make the deep dish version, you'll need to combine the two crusts,
otherwise it will be two thin if you use only one traditional store
bought crust. 


Pie crust:  either purchase or make from scratch.  If purchasing make sure to purchase enough pie crust to make two pies.


Traditional Quebecois:                                                      

1 large onion, chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1 lb of ground pork and/or veal                                        

1 tsp. Summer Savory (the dried, powdered version. Found in most grocery stores)                                      

1 tsp. ground clove                                                  

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg    

a few drops of "Liquid Smoke" if desired (this will give the pies the old-fashioned taste from a beehive oven)

1 beaten egg

Maine: All of above and add 1 large potato, cooked and chopped in small pieces


In a large saute pan, cook onion, celery and garlic.  Add the ground pork and/or veal to the pan and brown it. When browned, remove from heat.  Add all the seasonings and liquid smoke, if desired, and mix well.  Add the cooked potato at this time, too, if desired, and mix. Pour filling into prepared pie crust.  Cover with top crust and cut vent holes.  Brush top crust with beaten egg and bake in 350 degree oven for 35 – 45 minutes.

Serve with a tossed salad and a nice fruity red wine like a Beaujolais or a Valpolicella. 

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