I was determined to make a meat pie, or a tourtière, that I could eat this Christmas. If you know me, you know this is a holiday tradition that I hold dear. I didn't attempt it at Thanksgiving….between the pie crust and crackers, and no pork, I just gave up. I missed it though….it's amazing how much a food tradition can represent to one. I almost teared up in the night before Thanksgiving, realizing that I hadn't had it for dinner the night before, as we always do. 


I tried to be thoughtful about 'cheating' on my food protocol (trying to think of some word other than diet) at the holidays. I drank wine at my party, and for the next few days, Christmas Eve at the Esquire, and Christmas Day. As far as actual food goes, I did pretty good, but I knew I had to do some cheats to get my tourtière. I'm not supposed to be having the various flours that go into gluten free baking at the moment, but I figured that I was one cheat I could come to terms with for two pieces of pie. Given that I can hardly make regular pie crust, Ernie came home with a Glutino brand pie crust mix for me. It called for eggs, so I used flaxseed substitution, which I can now have. It came out pretty good, it was more crumbly than regular pie crust but tasted pretty good. Ernie even liked it and he's not a big fan of pie crust (I know, I don't understand either).

The filling was the challenge of course. My recipe comes from my maternal grandmother's notes, and she refers to it as "Mother's Meat Pie." There are millions of recipes for tourtière or meat pie, but ours is simple, calling for ground pork, ground beef, onion, crushed crackers, water, cinnamon, cloves, and salt and pepper. I can't have ground pork, so I substituted ground turkey. That was easy. Last time I made it I found gluten free saltines (originally common crackers, but now we use the easier to find saltines) but it was eh. Many tourtière versions use potato as a binder. I can't yet have white potato but I can have sweet potato. I was worried that the sweet potato flavor might be too strong and too sweet, but it was great! I just boiled some chopped sweet potato and mashed it. In fact, if I hadn't known there was sweet potato in it, I don't think I would have guessed. I skipped the onion, I thought about using celery or fennel for similar texture but I decided not to this time.

The recipe, and others I've read, have always said to add a little water and let it all cook down. However, whenever I did this when I used regular supermarket ground beef it always seemed a waste of effort to me. There was so much fat I'd have to drain and then the water never seemed to really meld with the meat. It wasn't a problem….I'd never even thought about it that much, but this year, when I added the grass fed ground beef, it seemed a bit dry, so I added the water as my grandmother, and great-grandmother had said, and it worked like a charm. Of course, when my grandmother jotted this recipe down from her mother, they would have been using grass fed beef. 

Cooking with grass fed beef is quite different and it's taken a bit to get used to, but it is hard to think about going back to regular supermarket ground beef now. Yesterday I curled up in front of the fire and browsed through some library books online (so much easier now that I downloaded the library's app. I had hated their old app, so generally did it through their website but the new Libby app is super easy. Anyway, I read most of Real Food Fake Food and it was mind boggling. I already knew that substitution of seafood (getting other fish when you buy Red Snapper, etc) was common but I had no idea of the enormity of it all. Reading all of it, not just about seafood, but about meat, etc. again made me realize I need to really commit to buying organic, or grass-fed, or wild, as much as possible. So, I guess, as much as I was tempted by the scallops on sale at Schnuck's this week, I should hold off. So much to think about.

Most importantly, even just cheating 'a bit' with pie crust and a stolen piece of milk chocolate or two, and drinking some wine, made me feel absolutely wretched and various symptoms immediately flared up, so I am back, nose to the ground, ready for the new year.

Onward indeed.

And for your holiday pleasure, a random picture of Bob.


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