Tupper Lake, November 6, 2012 by Jeff Boucher

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Christmas Story......

Tourtiere or French Canadian Meat Pie.

I grew up just south of the border of Quebec,in what was a logging town at the turn of the last century.

This is what it looked like then. Tough work.
 A simpler time perhaps,but not from a work standpoint.
This was seriously dangerous work.
Raquette Pond by the Big Mill, Early 1900's.

Tupper Lake's heritage is about lumber, and to some extent is still is.
Our school mascot is the Lumberjack. 
Woodsmen's Field Days still happen every July.

There's still plenty of loggin going on.
I took this pic a couple of days ago.

So back to the French Connection-My paternal grandfather (Theophile Poirier) came south from Quebec in the early 1900's to work in the lumber camps- it was a boom time for the local economy, and at one point Tupper had one of the largest producing sawmills in the world.

Along with the French migration south to NY for employment, came their recipes, and one of them was/is tourtiere, or as anglicized called meatpie by the locals for obvious reasons.

When I was a lad, my maternal grandmother, Julia, would bake meatpies (along with loads of homemade candies, and many other delectables) during the Christmas season.

The tradition in our family, was to attend Midnight Mass, then return to Gram's house for meatpie. Those were the days of the long Latin mass. You can only imagine me as a 6 or 7 year old, sitting through mass until 1:30 or 2:00 AM. My thoughts were twofold. 1- I wanted some meatpie and some homemade candies. 2- I wanted to get home, go to bed, wake up and see what Santa brought.

Finally after what seemed an eternity, mass would end, and off to Gram's!  We had a large family, my mother had 9 brothers and sisters. We'd gather around the kitchen table and get a slice of pie, add a little ketchup, and yum. A few candies later it was time to home and finally crawl into bed anxiously awaiting the morning.

Of course my parents always insisted we eat breakfast prior to opening gifts, which prolonged the anxiety, but hey it was worth it.

I did the same breakfast thing to my kids, and even though the anticipation of the gifts has lessened somewhat over the years, I too find myself making the big breakfast prior to opening gifts, even though the kids are all grown up.

This year I made 8 pies for family and friends, and will probably make a few more before the New Year. It's the only time I make them.

My base recipe I found on Allrecipes. There are a lot of variations locally. Some folks use all vension, some all ground beef or all ground pork. Some will add chopped potatoes. I use a 50/50 mix of ground beef and ground pork.  Here's my base recipe-Tourtiere Recipe-Click Here.
I tweak it a bit, but for the most part I follow that recipe and get great results. 

Here's a few shots of this years production.

Gotta have the stockpot.

The mix- at this point it ain't pretty. Basically, you stir and simmer, drain it, fill the shells, and bake @ 400 for 50 minutes or so.
And there they are.

A tradition you can eat- the best kind.


  1. If I only make one pie, will the Food Police come and take me away? They do look well worth the calorie investment - prime bowl watching nourishment! I'll try it - love the spices.

  2. Yup-you can scale the recipes on the Allrecipes website- I always add garlic too-just because, garlic, like butter, makes everything better!