Saturday, February 6, 2016

So you're going to a Canada-themed party, eh?

Time for another episode of Cooking with the Doctors! Despite the fact that we have 22 years of post-graduate training, 2.75 masters degrees, and 2.75 doctoral degrees between us, every foray into the kitchen is liable to turn into an adventure, so we advise you to please buckle your seatbelts, keep your arms and legs inside the car, and enjoy the ride!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, at last year's potluck holiday party, I brought store-bought Swedish meatballs. This year's party was "Canada themed" in honor of one of our deans. Googling around for some ideas, I hit upon a kind of Quebecois pork pie called tourtière. It's pronounced something like "tawr-tyehr" with rolled "r"s. It is definitely not pronounced like this automatic pronunciation. (Warning, do not drink anything while listening!) I decided to make one for the party, one for us to eat the next week, and one for a friend who had just had a baby. This is the recipe I used, and these are the steps it took to produce lovely, steaming meat pies.

Step 1--Research ingredients. Unfortunately, our grocery store does not sell green ketchup--they didn't even have canned green tomatoes so I could make my own condiment. I also couldn't find dried savory, which Dear Husband found incredible. "Look next to the ground delicious," he said.

Step 2--Ask the home inspector to please, please, please fix the wiring to the oven that he tripped because the previous owner's father "the electrician" mixed up the line and load so that we can actually bake with it today.

Step 3--The recipe has no instructions for making the crust, so set DH to researching and then preparing three. When he is two cups of flour short of a pie crust, send him to the grocery store.

Step 4--Chop onions finely and celery chunkily. (Narrowly) avoid amputating distal ends of any digits.

Step 5--Run interference with the carpet installers, who still haven't finished the job they supposedly did two days ago.

Step 6--Start heating the oven. Smell the juices in the broiler. Remove broiler pan, spilling the juices. At least both the inspector and the carpet guys have left.

Step 7--Realize the recipe lists the cooking time incorrectly as 55 minutes instead of 1 HOUR and 55 minutes. Turn off the oven.

Step 8--Cook meat, water, veggies, and spices in three large pots on the stove. (Make sure you break the bay leaves in half; I think that activates them.) When tasting the supernatant halfway through after salting, realize they are too peppery. Make mental note for next time to halve the amount of pepper. If there even is a next time.

Step 9--Discover that the recipe as written already suffices for TWO pies. Having tripled the recipe, we made enough filling for SIX pies. Implore DH to make another pie crust. The last batch of meat will have to be divided and frozen since we only "have" four pie plates. (Hi, MIL!)

Step 11--Skip "Step 10--Cool meat mixture," because otherwise will be late to party. Retrieve bay leaves, strain mixture, and fill four pie crusts. Cut appropriate vents in top crust (maple leaf, hockey sticks, shirtless lumberjack). Brush with beaten egg.

Step 12--Bake the first two pies as instructed. Well, almost. Adjust temperature down when you remember. Realize too late that you forgot to stir in the oats during the last 2 minutes of stovetop cooking. Add oats to the pot still on the stove and the two as-yet-topless pies. Top pies and divide extra meat for freezing.

Step 13--Change into your best flannel or hockey jersey, grab the winter hat with the ear flaps, and practice being excruciatingly nice to everyone.

Bon appétite!

There was LOTS of good food at the party. This is my first plate, clockwise from 12 o'clock: tourtière, poutine, cold bean salad, and "Moose Moss in Sauce," a hot broccoli and fried onion dish. There was also nanaimo (aka "Canadian crack," a decadent chocolate brownie thing), maple-glazed bacon, peppermint bark, maple sugar candy, venison guisado, pumpkin cookies, ginger snaps, madeleines, and Tater Tot Hot Dish from Minnesota, which is basically like South Canada, roight?

The tourtière certainly looked impressive, and the crust was lovely and flaky, but I felt that the innards were dry and crumbly, most likely a result of not having been allowed to cool and congeal in a snow bank. (Seriously, that was the recipe writer's instruction!) But surprisingly not too peppery. So it's leaner and maybe healthier but doesn't hang together well. You know what would have helped that? Green ketchup. Sorry aboot that.


  1. Kristen, Nora of the North greatly appreciates your cooking,DH's considerable contributions, your appropriately Canadian behaviours and dress,and this lovely blog. Thank you!!!


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