I grew up in Canada, and I’ve been interested in food as far back as I can remember, so I was quite surprised that I didn’t discover tourtière—possibly the most quintessentially Canadian food outside of poutine (fries, gravy, and cheese curds…if you’ve never tried it, you must!)—until my later years.
Tourtière is a hearty meat pie from the French-Canadian province of Quebec. Though the historically conventional recipe is usually made with minced meat (pork, beef, or veal) and potatoes, there is no definitively correct filling. Depending on the region, it may be filled with wild game or even fish. And like other traditional meat pies from around the world, the dish was brought to Canada by immigrants and then passed down through the generations. It is now an iconic dish that Canada calls its own.
Traditionally quite simple in preparation, I wanted to take the essence of this double-crust, deep dish pie and give it a few tweaks to make it my own. In the true revamping fashion I’m known for, the first thing I looked at was the ingredient list. It was no surprise that most recipes call for refined white flour in the pastry, so that’s where I’d start.
While you could use any suitable flour alternative and keep it similar to a traditional pie dough, I wanted to try my hand at an inventive, grain-free crust loaded with flavor and texture. I experimented by incorporating sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds into the crust, and it turned out even better than I imagined! The seeds provide a unique nutty flavor and aroma, plus added textural appeal and depth.
Not seeing any reason to fuss with the meat filling, I didn’t stray too far from most of the recipes I’d come across in my research. My preferred mixture was a combination of pork and beef, along with finely chopped organ meats. The latter is optional, but I highly recommend adding them for the nutritional boost. There’s hardly an easier way to sneak organ meats into your diet than by “hiding” them in plain sight, nestled within other meats.
As the pièce de résistance, I topped the entire thing with a heavenly combination of creamy cottage cheese and shredded sharp cheddar. The savory meat paired with the rich, melted topping calls to mind a heavenly fusion of calzone and pastitsio, and it really sets this pie apart. Not at all traditional, but I challenge anyone to complain.
This mile-high meat pie is suitable for primal, ketogenic, gluten-free, and grain-free diets. Delicious hot or at room temperature, you can enjoy it for any meal of the day. Pair with a simple vinaigrette-dressed salad for a modest, well-rounded meal or serve with a couple over-easy eggs for a protein-rich breakfast.
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
Prep time: 30–40 minutes
Cook time: approximately 1½ hours
For the crust:
¼ cup coconut flour
½ cup almond flour
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, ground
¼ cup sunflower seeds, ground
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons golden flax seeds, ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup melted butter
2 tablespoons water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
For the filling:
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼–½ lb. assorted organ meats (liver, heart, gizzards), finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg white (save yolk for topping)
½ cup heavy cream
12 oz. cottage cheese
1 egg yolk
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese (or other favorite cheese)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.
- Make crust: Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir wet ingredients into dry and let sit 5 minutes. Press dough in an even layer over bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack while you make the filling.
- Prepare filling: In a heavy sauté pan, cook ground beef and pork with onion and garlic, breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink. Add organ meats, salt, pepper, herbs, and spices. Cook, adding a little water if mixture starts getting dry, for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Meanwhile, combine eggs, egg white, and cream in a bowl and prepare the topping.
- Stir egg/cream mixture into meat mixture. Spoon filling into prebaked crust, making sure to press it into all the corners.
- Prepare topping: Combine cottage cheese, egg yolk, and shredded cheddar in a bowl. Spoon on top of filling. Use a spatula to spread the mixture into an even thickness, going all the way to the crust.
- Bake pie until bubbling around the edges and golden-brown on top, about 50–60 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- Let cool at least 15 minutes before removing sides from pan. Cut into wedges and serve.
Image from Briana Goodall.