The most abbreviated of days, and I believe it's going to
fill up with rain. This descent into darkness always
thrills me, oddly. I think it's because it always ends
in Christmas, which, oddly (or unlike many adults
I know) I still rather enjoy. Of course as the years
have accumulated, the delights exist less in the
material world and more in the pleasures
of the palate.
My sons have unanimously requested tourtiere
for Christmas Eve dinner. It's a French-Canadian
meat pie which was a tradition in my home
growing up. Here's the recipe:
1 # ground beef
1/2 # ground pork
2 pieces bacon, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup water
1 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
3/4 t. sage
1/2 t. thyme
1/4 t. allspice
3 T. chopped parsley
1 potato, boiled & mashed
pastry for a two-crust pie
Brown the meats, add the onion and garlic; cook for a few minutes.
Add everything else except the parsley and potato.
Simmer for 20 minutes. Add parsley and potato, let cool.
Fill pie shell with mixture, top with remaining pastry.
Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until brown.
My mom served this with buttered peas on the side.
She always would roast some beef and pork earlier
in the week, then grind them in her hand-crank grinder
(which clamped to the table's edge and was stored
in an old Quaker Oats cylindrical box with pictures
of Woody Woodpecker on the back.) She used this
meat instead of the pre-ground beef and pork.
I loved feeding the meat into that grinder,
turning the handle and watch it spiral out
on the other side!
My kids grew up with this pie also. On the Christmas
Eve morning of R.'s first quarter of culinary school,
I was happily ensconced in the kitchen, stirring up
my tourtiere, when R. came into the room, grabbed
the spoon out of my hand and bullied me out of the
way. WTF???? He firmly and calmly stated
that he was trying to INTRODUCE SOME CLASSIC
FRENCH COOKING TECHNIQUES INTO MY
Boy was that a mistake. I told him that this was
about as classic as it gets, or, at least, classic country
French-Canadian. This recipe has its roots in our
Quebec ancestors, Thomas Hayot and his wife
Jeanne Boucher, who, along with their children
Genevieve and Rodolphe, emmigrated from
Mortagne au Perche (France) in 1638.
R., in his new-found expertise, was not impressed.
I finally demanded that he leave the kitchen.
If you know R., you'll know that this is very
out of character for him. He's genial, easy-going
and generous of spirit. We had more than one
culinary run-in that fall, where I finally told him
that for 19 years he'd loved everything that had
come out of this kitchen. Moreover, I hadn't yet
poisoned him, forced him to eat watery gruel,
or made him suffer the penury of anything
from a store-bought-mix or squeezed out of
Happily, as he progressed in his studies, his
criticism of All Things Mom eased, to the point
where I find nothing more pleasurable than an
afternoon spent in the kitchen with him.
Yes, we do engage in some good-natured
verbal sparring now and again over this spice
or that cut of meat, but it's with respect and
curiosity now, and the desire to learn.
My greatest pleasure, though, is when he asks
for cooking advice! From me!
Here's his Christmas gift to me (and himself)....
He endured way more than his share of adversity
while on the road to this piece of paper --
heart attack, victim of a violent crime, legal fall-out
from his father's death, plus other serious health issues.
But he persisted, Classical French Cooking Techniques