I am writing this post in English, as my francophone readers know about my regional (rerional as we pronounce it in the Saguenay region) pride about this dish, maybe the single one reason why I don't think I can ever become vegetarian. I have decided to write this post in English so hopefully I can have peple discover this delicious, unique, decadent, hearty pie. I am talking about the tourtière, which is the regional dish of Saguenay Lac-St-Jean where I come from. It is out pride and the thing I look most forward to when I go home. In fact, a trip home is not quite right if I don't eat some tourtière.
The tourtière is wrongly considered by Quebeckers outside my home as a meat pie (a pork pie). You can hear more about the controversy here. You know very much where I stand, I am a purist when it comes to tourtière: a meat pie is a plain meat pie, mince meat (pork) in a dough. Tourtière is an entirely different meal. In fact, it is much more elaborate than any pie you find in Western civilisation: you need diced potatoes, various red meats, at least a bit of venison (partridge, hare, rabbit, moose, deer), onion, all this wrapped in dough. And it has to be huge. A tourtière is not a small: it has to be in a big cooking/baking dish. One cannot eat one tourtière by himself/herself. It has to be eaten with many people, friends and family. Tourtière is, well, the most undignified looking gastronomical dish, but the most delicious and the friendlier, the most communal. It is hearty and primitive (in fact its origins date back to the Middle Ages). Because of the quantity of venison in it and the variety of its source, you can never really have two tourtières that taste the same.
Tourtière is eaten with a lot of red wine, or with some darkish beeron the side (if you really need to drink something non alcoholic try Coca Cola). It is better eaten on a cold day, either in autumn or winter. A cold day especially. Or at least a cool one. it is often eaten during Christmastime, in some families replacing the turkey. If you need something on the side, a coleslaw or beetroots (like we have with cottage pies/pâtés chinois). As a child, I didn't like it all that much. I don't know why it grew on me like this, almost in the same time I learned to love alcohol. You can find the family recipe here. I secretly hope that some of you will try it. One can dream.