Saturday, January 05, 2008

Tourtiere (Page 493)

  • Date: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

I have been wanting to make this pork pie for years now, but no one has been too excited about eating it with me. Apparently a pie filled with pork doesn't sound good to some people. Luckily, Matty agreed with me that it sounded intriguing, so we made this for our New Year's dinner. It was pretty tasty. There's not much to it -- the recipe is essentially a homemade pie crust filled with some ground pork which has been browned with onions and seasoned with savory and allspice. There was a bit too much allspice I thought, but other than that the flavor of the filling was good. The crust was excellent. It was slightly adapted from a typical pate brisee (it was made with milk instead of water, and kneaded a couple times), and it really worked well. It was very crispy, which was a nice textural contrast to the pork. The one downfall of this recipe was that it was just too much pork. Tourtiere is a French Canadian Christmas tradition, and as I understand it, it often has potatoes in the filling as well as the pork. That would have been a huge improvement to this recipe. As it was, it was tremendously rich (a buttery pastry crust filled entirely with pork!). Some potatoes would have provided a much needed buffer to the richness. It was still good though, and although it took us a couple days, we ate the whole pie! I feel confident, however, that there are better tourtiere recipes out there.

This recipe isn't online.

Well the inevitable finally happened: I went to the butcher today and they didn't have the cut of meat that I needed. No chuck blade steaks to be found. When I moved to Indiana, I wasn't at all nervous about the typical things that make people nervous when moving to a small town in the Midwest. I am not easily bored, so that wasn't a concern. I don't mind be surrounded by cornfields. I can cook for myself, so great restaurants aren't a priority. One thing made me deeply nervous though: I was worried I wouldn't be able to find ingredients for the food from The Book. I was especially nervous about two areas: spices and meat. Spices, I discovered week 1 of my life in Bloomington, IN, are not a problem. The local co-op, Bloomingfoods, has a tremendous selection. They have yet to let me down. Meat was a bigger problem. I went from grocer to grocer looking for a really good meat counter -- one that had not only good quality meat, but also a huge selection. I had no luck. After a few weeks it occurred to me that I should at least check if there is a butcher shop in town. Butcher shops are few and far between these days, and honestly it seemed unlikely I was going to find one here. But much to my surprise (and delight, and wonder) Bloomington has a fantastic butcher shop. I can't say enough positive things about Butcher's Block. I go there at least one a week, armed with a list of random cuts of meat that I need for my various Book recipes. They listen to my list, disappear into the back, and reappear with lovely white paper wrappers surrounding delicious meat. And until today, they have always had exactly what I needed. This is not your typical small town butcher either. They have tongue and offal and game birds, etc... It is a wonderland of meat. My understanding is that it was opened a few years ago by a couple of IU alumni, approximately my age. I am so enthralled by the butcher shop that Matty teases me that I have a crush on one of the butchers (there is possibly a tiny bit of truth to this!). I will indeed be sad when I have to eventually move away from Bloomington, and leave behind the excellent supply of meat! Who would have guessed?


vero said...

I love tourtiere! However, even we don't dare make it only with pork! Usually we mix in beef and veal. (And often potatoes.)

Even with these changes it's still a bit fatty. Ah well, it's cold in Quebec!

Teena said...

Wow, pork, beef, and veal -- that's intense! It's good to hear that you use potatoes though. It justifies my feeling that this recipe could use some potatoes!

Chris said...

Did you know that this is the only page google returns for "no chuck blade". Don't feel bad about not getting any in Bloomington, I can't get any in Portland Oregon either.

Teena said...

Huh, well it's good to know that I am not the only person who has had this problem!