Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A couple of days of French Canadian cooking

Yesterday I baked, and today I'm mainly doing stove top cooking. Both meals had components mainly from the Quebecois side of the family; yesterday was tourtiere and today it's pea soup. For anyone not of French Canadian descent, tourtiere is a meat pie now mainly made with pork (at least in part). Apparently in the past it was made of game meats, and I've used venison which was also pretty darned fine! My recipe uses both ground pork and ground beef and I used small cubes of venison to substitute for the beef. I suggest serving tourtiere with a green salad to round out the meal since the pie include starches.

This is the family recipe from the Lambert family of southwestern New Hampshire. It was often served in small slivers at Thanksgiving or Christmas as an appetizer at the large family get-togethers. I'm sharing it here because we don't have grandchildren with whom to share it. My daughter has planned to have no children, and my sister despises this recipe so I doubt she'll share it with her daughters. Others in the family have sons, so I doubt the recipe has made it into the holiday recipe box.

My mother did not want to share the recipe with me, which I found both interesting and frustrating since it was really from my family too, and she wasn't sharing for years. She kept telling me to work out the spicing - shoot, at the time I lived where Bell's seasoning was not available and then to work from a spice mix, then add cinnamon and cloves was not reasonable. I can't help but think she resented my learning to cook lots of other recipes, and not being afraid to cook and tweak recipes. But she was the one who told me that I could read a cookbook and could work out recipes from them, so it was her own fault!


1/2 lb. hamburger
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp. salt
approx. 1/8 tsp. pepper (or more to taste)
1 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning (the family favorite was Bell's)
1 sm. dash cloves
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
2 large potatoes boiled and mashed (no milk or butter, just freshly mashed) - keep hot
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
a two crust pie shell

Saute onion in butter until translucent in a skillet approximately 10 inches in diameter. Add the two ground meats and brown. Add just enough water to have it barely peak through the meat, and simmer for 10 minutes (I think this step is a hold-over from the game meats days). Add the hot mashed potatoes and spices.

Place pie shell bottom crust in the pie plate; add the filling to the pie shell. Top with the upper crust, and bake in a 375 degree oven for approximately 35 to 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and crisp.

Today's cooking is not as interesting, but still relates to the French Canadian cooking because that's where my family's pea soup recipe comes from. I'm serving pea soup made with split peas, the bone from the ham from Christmas dinner, onion, carrot, and celery, and water to cover, then cooking until the peas are all collapsed into the soup. Pea soup was about the only soup my mother made from scratch. All others came from a can or a box. All three of us kids really used to look forward to pea soup - loaded with crackers to be thick, but it was great. Mom would grouse about it, and in her later years swore she would never make pea soup again. Heck I could think of lots of things I wished I never saw, but pea soup wasn't one of them. Ugh, Spanish rice and American chop suey I never make nor want to make with meat as a one pot meal. I will do a "Spanish rice" as more of a Mexican rice to go with a Mexican style dinner, but never a stodge of a one-pot. I'll also make spaghetti or ziti or other pasta with Italian sausage or meatballs or meat sauce, but no American chop suey.

Tonight pea soup will be offered with home made corn bread. I'd say that will give us plenty of fiber, protein, and vitamins for dinner. May be something of a "musical" night, but we'll live.

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