French Canadian Tourtière (meat pie) with “Kentucky bastard” Beer Flavor

The first time I have tried the famous tourtière, it was during the carnival of Quebec in one of the oldest house of Quebec (1675), now a restaurant that serves traditional Quebec food: Aux Anciens Canadiens. Pickle and roasted red beets were served as a side dish. It was delicious!

Tourtière is not an exclusivity of Quebec. It is a traditional French-Canadian dish served by generations of French-Canadian families throughout Canada as well as in the bordering regions of the United States. In the New England region, especially in Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, the dish was introduced by the late 19th and early 20th century immigrants from Quebec.

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Combine together all the ingredients

From my trip to Quebec, I brought back a cookbook about the traditional cuisine in the different regions of Quebec. And while I was reading the book, I discovered that there is no one correct filling for the famous tourtière; it depends on what is regionally available. In coastal areas, seafood is commonly used, whereas pork, beef, rabbit and game are often included inland.

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Mix together and cook over medium heat

I never made a tourtière when I was in France. We have something similar – le paté en croute et la tourte à la viande (also with vegetable like mushrooms, fish or seafood). You can buy them anywhere in France and they are quite delicious when they are prepared artisanally. Why to do it, we buy them ready to eat.

And may be, because it is prepared by professionals in France, I always felt that it was too difficult or it took too long to prepare, and this until recently. Paul, a friend of mine, who is preparing 6 to 10 pies each year to share with friends during the holiday’s season, inspired me. I was ready to take the leap.

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When the meat is cooked, allow to cool to room temperature

This is Paul toutière’s recipe. I have made some minor changes. It is impossible for me to follow a recipe at 100%, but I kept the essence of his recipe as well as his instructions for the different steps. My conclusion, it is really easy to do. Unbelievable! It is also really delicious; I will do it again, and again. I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe.

Portion size: 8 to 10

Ingredients

900 g lean ground pork (2 pounds)

I doubled the quantity of meat (as well as all the other ingredients). After a first try, I thought it was not enough meat; I wanted to get back my souvenir of the tourtière I have enjoyed in Quebec.

I chose to use pork tenderloin. It is really lean and tasty. I also asked my butcher to grind it for me. America’s test kitchen has shown that freshly ground meat is significantly more tasty and flavorful than the pre-packed ground meat. And this makes a difference!

2 onions, diced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 bay leaves

4 to 6 fresh sage leaves (alternative: 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage)

120 ml Beer

Paul normally uses boiling water in his recipe. Instead, I have decided to use beer. Pork meat has a mild flavor that picks up whatever seasoning or marinades you use and I wanted to give some pep to my tourtière by using one of my favorite beers – or more precisely my first barleywine:

Kentucky bastard from Nickel Brook

As they explained, they kicked it up a notch with their Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout, aging it in Kentucky Bourbon barrels. The rich chocolate, coffee and dark fruit flavors from their Imperial Stout are married together with the vanilla, oak and warming alcohol from bourbon barrels. Together as one, the result is an incredible blend of aroma and taste. And this is true! We really enjoyed this beer, and I wanted to cook with it. My Burgundy roots! The tourtière was my first try; I also used this beer when I cooked a French onion soup. Both were incredible!

Recipe pastry for a 9-inch (23-cm) double crust pie 

300 g flour (150 grams all-purpose flour and 150 g spelt flour)

150 g of butter, cubed and very cold

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

80 ml very cold water, plus more is needed

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.                                                    

Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture, and cut it using a pastry cutter (rubbing it in with your fingertips also works in a pinch). Keep working the butter into the dough until in coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

Scrape off any residual butter-flour mixture from the pastry cutter, and drizzle in the water.

Gently work the water into the dough with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until it becomes a shaggy but relatively cohesive mass. Give the dough a few kneads with your hands (fewer than 10) so that it forms a rough ball. Try to work these steps as fast as you can. This is one of the secrets for a flaky crust.

Wrap the ball in plastic wrap, and chill for at minimum 30 minutes or overnight. This allows the water to fully hydrate the dough, making for a more cohesive product that’s easier to roll out.

Preparation

In a saucepan, combine pork, onion, beer, salt, black pepper, marjoram, cloves as well as sage and bay leaves. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils; stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is cooked, about 20 minutes.

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Roll out the bigger one and line a 9-inch clay pie pan with it

Remove the bay leaves and sage leaves, and almost all the juice and fat. You can use the juice to prepare a sauce to accompany your tourtière.

Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Allow to cool to room temperature.

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Brush with egg wash

The meat can be prepared one day in advance. Cover it and refrigerate overnight. I did it and it was perfect the day after to assemble the pie and cook it.

With the rack in the lowest position, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (220 degrees C).

On a lightly floured surface, cut dough in two pieces (roughly 60 and 40%). Roll out the bigger one and line a 9-inch (23 cm) clay pie pan with it.

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Spoon the meat mixture into the pie crust

Brush with egg wash (whisk an egg up with a splash of cold water or milk until pale yellow and perfectly mixed). Spoon the meat mixture into the pie crust.

Roll out remaining dough and cover the tourtière with it. Make an incision in the center. Press the edge to seal with a fork or your fingers. Brush with egg wash.

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Roll out remaining dough and cover the tourtière with it

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Let cool 10 minutes before slicing.

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Make an incision in the center. Press the edge to seal with a fork or your fingers

Tourtière can be made up to 2 to 3 days in advance. We have kept our pie covered with aluminum foil in the fridge and we have reheated it at 250 degree F for 20 to 30 minute before to enjoy it.

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Brush with egg wash

As I said previously, the taste of this tourtière is incredible. We enjoyed every bite, we were in paradise for gourmands. A real alchemy between the pork flavor, the different herbs and the complexity of the “Kentucky Bastard” beer!

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Ready for the gournands!

Bon Appetite!

A Nutritious Smoothie – Kale, Cucumber, Banana and Honey

Kale is not the kind of vegetable that I was used to eat when I lived in France. In fact, I have never seen a leaf of kale at the farmers’ market of Beaune (the city where I was born in Burgundy) until recently. This green leafy vegetable was not part of the French culinary repertoire that includes among others spinach, parsley, green cabbage, lettuce, chicory, dandelions and Swiss chard.

I have discovered kale here in Canada, but I was quite skeptical. Its dark green color and the texture of the leaves have been for me a “no, not at all” signal. It was difficult for me to bypass my own inhibition.

Like a child, I have rejected this vegetable for many years because of its two physical aspects: dark color and thickness. They were synonymous in my subconscious of strong flavor, too many fibers and as a result: difficulty to swallow. This was my gripe! I was conditioned by my past experience and own boundaries. I adore bright green vegetable with tender leaves. They are so delicious. Kale was far different from the vegetables I have learnt to enjoy when I was younger. This kale might be just another food that I haven’t tried and liked yet; but it was not won in advance.

Appetite for a specific food is not simply a response to physiological or nutritional needs. It has also a psychological and emotional component. In fact, our relation to food is largely a function of expectation, emulation and adaptation. It is why it can be so challenging for people to modify their food behaviors. I went through this kind of challenges.

Interestingly, “our attitudes toward, and responses to, certain foods can be altered enormously by the contexts in which we encounter them, the number of other people we see eating them, the way they do or don’t dovetail with the diets we mean to maintain” (Frank Bruni, New York Time). And it is exactly what happened to me.

During the first few years in Canada, I have tried to keep my French way to eat (homemade food, a lot of veggies & fruits). But over time, I have gradually changed, not only because of the people I worked with and my new friends, but also because of my busy professional life. I have adopted the North American diet because it suited my new life style and social group: a lot of restaurants, eating on the go, all the time on the road – sandwiches and muffins almost every day, a lot of sugar, very little fruit and vegetable intake.

And one day, I woke up. I said no, not anymore. I needed to be more watchful of my weight and energy. I needed to reconnect with the French culinary practices, my family’s farmer roots. I needed to learn again to enjoy vegetables & fruits and more simply, to reconnect with good healthy food. I went to the farmers’ market here in Toronto where I met kale again. This time it was inescapable. I needed to try it, I needed to like it!

Kale is what we call the “the queen of greens” and “a nutritional powerhouse”.  It provides an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around.  Kale’s nutrient richness stands out in three particular areas: (1) antioxidant nutrients, (2) anti-inflammatory nutrients, and (3) anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolates.

Without sufficient intake of antioxidants, our oxygen metabolism can become compromised, and we can experience a metabolic problem called “oxidative stress.” Without sufficient intake of anti-inflammatory nutrients, regulation of our inflammatory system can become compromised, and we can experience the problem of chronic inflammation. Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation — and the combination of these metabolic problems — are risk factors for development of cancer.

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3 to 4 bananas

Now I try to eat kale 2-4 times per week, and I like to have a smoothie for my breakfast or during the day as a snack. It is a great way to enjoy kale. I have read a lot about kale, I have reviewed a lot of smoothie recipes that contain kale. One of my major issues, there was not enough kale. I wanted to boost my kale consumption, and consequently, the nutritional and health impact of this powerful vegetable. I have tried different combinations: kale with berries, pineapple, pear, yogurt, almond…Too much kale was a challenge, it does not necessary interact well with other ingredients. At that point, I didn’t like the color and/or the taste.

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Half a cucumber

Making smoothies, it is a constant learning process. I try new combinations. I try to be creative, I learn and move on.

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200 g of kale

After many weeks of experimentation, I came to the conclusion – simplicity is the best! My smoothie contains banana, kale, cucumber and honey. Each cup brings 40 to 50 grams of kale. The bitter, peppery flavor of kale is counterbalanced by the sweet combination of banana, raw honey and bee pollen. Cucumber is here to add water but also its refreshing flavor that balances appropriately the sweetness of banana and honey. An interesting alchemy! I always keep one cup in a thermos for later in the day. The various ingredients have time to settle down and to develop new flavors. It is so yummy! I discover each time a new alchemy of flavors that was not necessary here when the smoothie was just ready to drink. You really need to try.

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One table spoon of honey, 1/2 teaspoon of bee pollen and 6 ice cubes

I think it is time to cook. This is my recipe:

Serving: 4 to 5 cups

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Add 2 to 3 cups water

Ingredients:

3 medium or 4 small bananas (mature or well mature)

Half a cucumber (medium size)

6 to 8 leafs of kale (200 g)

If you are using a Vitamix, do not remove the stem. If you are using another kind of blender, remove the stem but increase the number of leafs (10 to 12).

1 tablespoon of raw honey

1/2 teaspoon of pure bee pollen

2 to 3 cups of cold water (depending if you like the consistency more liquid or not)

5 to 7 ice cubes

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Purée until smooth

Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. With my Vitamix, I increase gradually the speed and mix at maximum speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Simple and easy to do! Your smoothie is ready.

Bonne Appetite!

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Ready for my snack

 

kale 1

kale 2