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- Meat and poultry
Cretons is a traditional French Canadian spread, similar to the French rillettes. Here is my gluten free version, made with veal instead of pork, and using spices that I find easier to digest.
2 people made this
- 450g minced veal
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 350ml chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 pinch dried thyme
- 1 pinch dried rosemary
- 1 pinch ground clove
- 1 pinch black pepper
MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:45min ›Ready in:55min
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. The result should be creamy and thick.
- Remove bay leaves. If desired, mash the mix with a potato masher, for a creamier consistency. Transfer to an airtight container and chill for 12 hours before serving.
Cretons can be frozen. The taste will be just as good, but the consistency might be a little less creamy once thawed.
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(1)
Iconic Foods of Canada: Quebec
Quebec is one of the oldest, most historic provinces in Canada. It boasts world class dining, sport, creative arts and an almost European flair, in virtue of its rich French culture. It is often said that Montreal is the most fun city in Canada while Quebec is the most beautiful. There are many well known foods of Quebec, but most lists (including mine) can only attempt to scratch the surface.
Quebec City is the oldest permanent settlement in North America (excluding Mexico) and its old fortifications can still be seen around the old city. Every year it hosts Winter Carnival with its ice sculptures and iconic snowman mascot, Bonhomme. Montreal is the largest French speaking city in the world, after Paris, and was the only Canadian city to host a summer Olympics (1976). Quebec is also home to Cirque du Soleil, Just For Laughs and lots of incredible food.
Quebec cuisine ranges from lumberjack to greasy spoon to fine dining. Many of its foods are iconic of Canada itself: poutine, smoked meat, pea soup, and maple syrup.
Quebec supplies a whopping 75% of the world’s maple syrup! It was the aboriginal peoples who taught European colonists how to tap the maple trees and boil off the water. This sugary sap permeates Quebecois cookery and you’ll find many items on this list are drenched in it.
From the buvette to the bistro, the casse-croûtes to the sugar shack – here is a pained attempt to list the 10 most iconic foods of Quebec.
Top 10 Canadian Foods:
I think probably that poutine would be considered the National Dish of Canada. Created in the 1950s in Quebec it has become a firm favourite right across the country. There are not many Canadian Food dishes that you can also find stretching from Hong Kong to Europe, but poutine is there.
I have to say it isn&rsquot my favourite Canadian food, I&rsquom just not sure about cheese and gravy. Anyways, poutine is served all over Canada but it originated in Quebec. The hand-cut fries need to be perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside the cheese curds have to be squeaky very squeaky and the beef gravy must be rich, thick and tasty.
Another Québécois favourite this pie is available again all over Canada. This pie must have a pastry top and bottom and is packed with a mix of veal and pork meat. Seasoned with the usual salt and pepper and the unusual cinnamon and cloves. This used to be a traditional pie for Christmas but now its eaten every time of year.
Quebec is one of the most fabulous foodie destinations in Canada and I am a huge fan of Montreal there are just so many things to do in Montreal and not just eating constantly (although that is my favourite).
These just happen to be a family favourite. Our big mastiff got into one of these a few years ago and he was like a human child on speed, the sugar went straight to his head and he zipped around the house destroying everything until he crashed an hour later. The next day he slept all day long &ndash didn&rsquot even want a walk.
A good butter tart is made from simple ingredients butter and sugar in a shortcrust pastry. Traditionalists would say it should have raisins but there are also plain versions and those with walnuts or pecans. I like my butter tarts gooey with crispiness from the caramelized sugar on the bottom.
Need to know how to make proper Canadian Butter Tarts well Julia of Vikalinka has a fantastic recipe on her site that her husband baked and they look truly fabulous as only a great Canadian food could.
If you think butter tarts sound teeth-achingly sweet try the Nanaimo Bar. They must have three layers, a base of cracker crumbs and coconut. Sweet custard for the middle and a chocolate ganache-like topping. You can now get these is all kinds of flavours but a traditional one is these three layers.
Jane has a brilliant recipe for gluten-free Nanaimo bars on her website The Heritage Cook and they are delicious.
Ketchup and all Dressed Potato Chips
God only knows why Canadian love Ketchup flavoured potato chips (crisps) but they do. Another favourite All Dressed which is exactly what it sounds like. Chips with a little BBQ flavour, salt and vinegar, ketchup, and that other Canadian favourite chip sour cream and onion. Sounds revolting but actually pretty tasty.
A true Canadian classic and a pure Canadian traditional dish. Americans claim their Vermont maple syrup is the best but we Canadians know better Canadian maple syrup is the world&rsquos best.
We love it in cakes, cookies and candy, but best of all in early spring we head to the nearest sugar shack at Maple syrup time and pour fresh syrup onto packed snow and tuck into our maple taffy.
We save these glorious treats for our sugar hit at festivals and fairs throughout the summer months. A delicious oval of deep-fried dough that we cover in toppings from peanut butter and chocolate to strawberries and cream. They are hot, melty, gooey piles of deliciousness.
Montreal Smoked Meat
Oh, I do miss Schwartz&rsquos Deli Montreal smoked meat. Now pretty much every deli in Canada carries a version of this delicacy. It is a close relative to pastrami but not the same at all.
Pastrami is usually made with dense, fatty beef plate although it is now common in the United States to see it made from beef brisket, beef round, and turkey. Smoked meat comes from leaner, stringier brisket. Pastrami is usually brined while smoked meat is dry-rubbed with curing salt. You can see the difference as well the smoked meat is a dark rich red and Pastrami a sort of insipid pink.
Montreal style bagels
A true Canadian traditional food a Montreal bagel. Yes, there is a difference between New York bagels and Montreal Bagels. Montreal&rsquos are boiled in water with honey and are a little sweeter than NY style. The biggest difference though is that Montreal&rsquos are cooked in wood-fired ovens giving them a much deeper, richer crunchier crust. Heaven with some BC smoked salmon and a schmear.
Caesar Cocktail (not a bloody Mary)
The Caesar &ndash Canada&rsquos national cocktail was invented in 1969 by restaurant manager Walter Chell of the Calgary Inn (today the Westin Hotel) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Containing vodka, tomato juice and clam juice, a shot of Tabasco hot sauce and another shot of Worcestershire sauce, the drink is served over ice in a salt-rimmed and celery garnished glass. A favourite of Canadians across the country.
Use Cretons in a sentence
1. Cretons are not the most flavorful of recipes but I like to make them more yummy by using 2 cloves are garlic and adding Parsley and dry minced green onion when they are done cooking…
2. Cretons This is a pork spread that used to be very popular amongst French Canadian working in the woods
3. Cretons is a French-Canadian pork pâté and is sometimes known as Gortons around New England
4. Cretons are a kind of pork spread, flavored with spices, onion and garlic
5. Cretons is a French Canadian dish it is very popular in French-speaking areas of Canada especially Quebec
6. Cretons, also called corton or gorton, a cold pork spread with a texture that varies from smooth to chunky
7. In Quebec cuisine, Cretons (sometimes gorton or corton, especially among New Englanders of French-Canadian origin) is a forcemeat -style pork spread containing …
8. Il n'y a rien comme les Cretons maison! Nous vous présentons donc une recette de Cretons à l'ancienne composée de porc, de mie de pain, d'oignons, de lait et des traditionnelles épices québécoises bien sûr : le clou de girofle et la cannelle
9. Plus rapides à cuisiner que beaucoup d'autres recettes, ces Cretons …
10. Cretons (French Canadian Pork Pate) recipe by: QueenBea
11. Translation for 'Cretons' in the free French-English dictionary and many other English translations.
12. Cretons In the old days when killing a fattened pig in the autumn was a way of life in French Canada, making Cretons was one delicious way of preserving meat for the winter
13. Always Cretons and when speaking this word it does sound like you're clearing you throat as the C sounds more like a long K or maybe 2K's
14. Cretons de Quebec is an old-school French-Canadian breakfast favorite
15. Learn how to cook great Cretons de quebec
16. Crecipe.com deliver fine selection of quality Cretons de quebec recipes equipped with ratings, reviews and mixing tips
17. Get one of our Cretons de quebec recipe and prepare delicious and …
18. Cretons is a traditional French-Canadian pork spread
19. Cretons are often served at breakfast on toast in Quebec with Acadians, ployes are traditional (though toast more likely these days.) It can be spread on toast points or on small round toasts as an hors d’oeuvre, or used as a picnic snack.
20. The traditional spice blend for Cretons, Quebec’s rustic version of French rillettes
21. Ces Cretons sont délicieux
22. Pour les épices, j’utilise dans cette recette 10 ml d’epice pour Cretons El Ma Mia et ils sont vraiment bons
23. What: It tastes better than it looks, we promise: A cold pork spread, Cretons (pronounced “cruh-tone,” more or less) is a Québécois mainstay typically eaten at breakfast, spread onto bread
24. Comparable to (yet distinct from) a French rillette or other potted meat, Cretons can have a texture that varies from smooth to chunky, with semi-coarse but creamy being pretty common around here.
25. Verser les Cretons dans un pot en verre, une terrine ou des ramequins
26. Cette recette peut être ajustée de différentes manières : si les Cretons semblent trop secs vers la fin, il est …
27. Cretons definition at Dictionary.com, a free online dictionary with pronunciation, synonyms and translation
28. I think everyone should try Cretons at least once
29. Les Cretons doivent être réincorporés au concentré protéinique avant entreposage.: The greaves must be reincorporated into the protein concentrate before storage.: Au terme du traitement thermique, le produit doit être séparé en liquides, graisses et Cretons par des moyens mécaniques.: After heat treatment, the product must be separated into liquid, fat and greaves by mechanical means.
30. Cretons traditionnels Auteur : Tartines & Champagne Partage
31. 24 août 2016 Cretons traditionnels
32. And Cretons (pronounced kreh-tohn) – French Canadian Meat Spread – is one of the classic Quebecois comfort foods my husband grew up with
33. Cretons Recipe How to make CretonsThis is the first time I've ever made Cretons and I must tell you, it was really, really good
34. Ces Cretons peuvent être portés séparément ou comme base sous des jambières en acier ou en cuir
35. Au Canada, la réglementation en vigueur interdit l'alimentation des ruminants avec des farines de viande et d'os ou Cretons provenant de ruminants.
36. Cretons definition: a spread of shredded pork cooked with onions in pork fat Meaning, pronunciation, translations and examples
37. ‘Cretons, the ostensibly regional breakfast treat, can be traced back to recipes for "croton" and "craytons" in 14th-century British cookbooks.’ ‘Specialties priced from $2 to $4 will include Cretons from Tripes & Caviar and grilled cheddar cheese with bacon and maple syrup from Station W.’
38. Cretons are a very typical eastern Canada dish served at breakfast time on toasted bread
39. Cretons are sometimes also served on a cheese platter
Please leave your comments here:
What is the difference between cretons and cretons?
More specifically, cretons is pork-based otherwise, it is a cretonnade, especially if it is veal- or poultry-based. However, the distinction is often not made, even in French, with either type being cretons . ^ "Les cretons".
What does cretinism mean?
a person suffering or who has suffered from serious reduction in THYROID GLAND activity during development. Cretins shows slow growth, pot belly, gross intellectual deficiency and retarded sexual development, and tend to die young (at eight to ten years). 1. Obsolete term for a patient exhibiting cretinism. 2.
What does cretini mean?
Definition of cretin. 1 often offensive : one afflicted with cretinism. 2 informal : a stupid, vulgar, or insensitive person : clod, lout … they started doing stupid boy stuff, like trying to untie our straps and pour sand down our bathing suits.
By the 1880s, Québec agriculture was already heavily specializing in dairy products for export to American, British and Canadian markets.
A complete ban on margarine helped carry elections for Maurice Duplessis (20 April 1890–7 September 1959), who was Premier Ministre (“Prime Minister”) of Québec for over 20 years. The anti-margarine law was confirmed again in 1999, 2003, and in March 2005 by courts. More modern versions of it don’t ban margarine, though: they just say that it can’t be coloured yellow. The law is reputedly designed to protect consumers, to ensure that they can tell the difference between margarine and butter. In November 2005, tubs of yellow margarine were seized from four Wal-Mart stores in the Québec City area, including Levis and Beauport. Affluent middle-class foodies are indifferent to it all their retort is “who wants to eat margarine anyway?”
Commercial cheese production in Québec began in 1850 with a camembert cheese knock-off called “Crème de Beloeil”, in Sault-au-Récollet, Québec. The Québec oldest cheese still in production — since 1893 — appears to be a Port-du-Salut style cheese named Oka, though now it is made industrially.
Since then, Québec’s cheese industry has been bolstered by import duties to keep other cheeses out, and heavy industry subsidies. As of 2006, there are around 100 cheese producers. Cheeses are made primarily from cow’s milk goat’s or sheep’s milk cheeses are also made. Many cheeses are takes on French cheeses.
40% of cheese made in Quebec is made from raw milk. In Montréal, there’s even a cheese store called “Qui Lait Cru” (though the entire phrase when spoken in French means “who would have believed it?”, the “Lait Cru” part of the name on its own means “raw milk”.)
The first documented Listeriosis outbreak from a raw-milk cheese in Quebec occurred in 2002 from April through to October inclusive. It affected 17 people. Though Listeriosis is not a reportable disease in Québec, there were no deaths that could be tied to the outbreak. The name of the cheese factory has been mostly suppressed in government reports, but it was a cheese factory that used milk from its own cows. The listeria, however, was not in the cow’s milk, and may have entered the factory in mud from the outside.
Both cheese and “beurre fermier” (“farmhouse butter”) are made from unpasteurized milk. Quebec’s Health Ministry has tried to discourage the production of raw milk cheese from time to time, though in the debate about unpasteurized milk and cheese, the unpasteurized butter is almost always overlooked.
9 Traditional Québec Specialties
Drawing its roots from French cuisine, Québec’s cuisine was largely shaped by the difficult early years after it was settled. Enduring harsh winters and having many mouths to feed but little to eat, people required dishes with real substance to build their new nation! Today, many traditional dishes take pride of place at Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
You can try traditional Québec cuisine for yourself at the following restaurants.
1 – Cretons – French-Canadian Pork Pate
A simple spread that filled the bellies of the first laborers and farmers of the region, cretons is a dish made from a slow-cooked blend of ground pork, veal, melted lard, and various spices.
Today, the cretons recipe has evolved, still consisting of the above ingredients, but with the inclusion of grated onion, garlic, and a mix of spices, including cinnamon and cloves. It is commonly served on bread or toast.
Originally developed by the early French settlers, and influenced by the surrounding First Nations peoples, cretons is a classic example of how Quebec cuisine is a mixture of both old and new.
2 – Montreal Bagels
Brought to Montreal by Eastern European Jews in the early 20th century, these distinctive hand-rolled bagels traditionally were dipped in honey-sweetened water, then baked in wood-burning ovens.
The yeasty sourdough recipe is renowned for its chewiness and undertones of sweetness. Traditionally, Montreal bagels could be ordered plain or topped with sesame or poppy seeds.
Today, contemporary bakeries offer Montreal bagels with a range of toppings and in so many styles. From indulgent, sweet toppings, such as chocolate chip, through to health-conscious recipes using blueberries and flaxseed, there’s a Montreal bagel out there for everyone.
Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, the Montreal bagel is lightly sweet and baked using the traditional Eastern European method. Nothing beats that welcoming home-baked aroma we all recognize when walking through the entrance of an old-fashioned Quebec bakery.
3 – Oka Cheese
The iconic semi-soft aromatic cheese was initially brought to the New World by French Trappist monks in the 1890s. In time, Brother Alphonse Juin tweaked the original Port-du-Salut recipe to its pungent, nutty, and unique flavor.
The name of the cheese comes from the small Quebec Abbey of Norte-Dame du Lac, a small rural town of Oka, where French Trappist monks first settled. An award-winning cheese, the recipe to this fresh cow’s milk cheese to this day remains guarded.
The piquant, creamy Oka cheese is aged on cypress planks and has a washed orange rind. You’ll find it on many charcuterie and cheese trays, and it pairs well with fruits and dark smoky ales.
4 – Soupe aux Gourganes – Broad Bean Soup
It’s soup time in Lac-Saint-Jean, and in the fall, that means broad bean soup! The gourgane, a strain of the fava bean and rich in protein, comes into season in August. The legume is grown mostly in the Lac-Saint-Jean and Charleroix regions of Québec.
Although Soupe aux Gourganes is a robust, hearty soup, it is enjoyed all year round, even during the hot summers.
The broth consists of a flavorsome mixture of beef shanks, salted bacon, pearl barley, carrots, tomatoes, and vermicelli, seasoned with savoury spice and chives. This traditional soup is often served as a home-cooked main dish, and truly is a must-try Quebec food.
5 – Soupe aux Pois – Pea Soup
The most authentic Quebec version of this traditional comfort food uses whole yellow peas, salt pork, kitchen garden vegetables, and herbs, including onions, carrots, celery, leeks, and chives.
After cooking, the meat is picked from the hambone and added back into the soup to stew. Served with homemade bread or a bakery baguette with creamy butter, soupe aux pois is the perfect way to experience authentic Quebecois home-cooking.
6 – Feves au Lard – Maple-Baked Beans
Feves au lard is a traditional dish of beans and salt pork or bacon, slow-cooked in the oven with sweet maple syrup. Instead of the New England baked beans in molasses, the Québécois style is an adaptation of France’s cassoulet.
This dish is a perfect example of cultures mixing and influencing each other. Baked beans are an important part of sugar shack feasts during le temps des sucres, the mid-March seasonal festival where families gather to enjoy the abundance of Québec’s maple meals. Feves au lard can be served with both breakfast and lunch.
8 – Ice Fishing – Peche Blanche – Fresh Trout, Perch, or Pike
More a classic Quebec winter tradition than a food in itself, ice fishing has been used to catch some of the freshest fish that swim in the waters beneath frozen ice across Quebec.
To this day, small portable sheds are hauled out onto frozen lakes and rivers by snowmobile. These ice huts shelter brave souls who venture out to go fishing from mid-December to mid-March.
The fishermen cut holes in the thick ice, add bait to their lines, and fish in anticipation of catching whopping trout, perch, or pike. Once caught, the fishermen quickly unhook the fish and throw them out onto the ice, where they quickly freeze.
Dipped in beaten egg, rolled in flour, and fried in a pan with plenty of butter, this is some of the most melt-in-mouth fish you can try on the continent.
9 – Tourtiere
Tourtiere is one of Québec’s best-known dishes, alongside the favorite French-Canadian comfort food, poutine. It varies from region to region and is a holiday must-have.
Tourtiere is a pastry-topped deep-dish meat pie, traditionally made with pork and vegetables, but now more commonly with ground beef and pork. Some bakeries will also cook it with tender duck, game, and lamb.
Like many cultural cuisines, tourtieres vary from region to region. The early beginnings trace back to medieval France, and the early French settlers. Named for the cast-iron pan the pie was once cooked in, this dish is a holiday centerpiece.
The pastry top is made with lard, and the meat is spiced with herbs, cinnamon, and even cloves. It is the ultimate comfort food, as wholesome as it is packed with juices and flavor.
10 – Boucanage – Smoked Meat
Translated as ‘smoke-drying’, smoked meat is a Quebec staple with a long history. Boucanage is tender, spiced beef brisket, that has been cured and smoked the same way for generations.
Traditionally, the brisket is dry-cured for a couple of weeks in barrels, then smoked for about six hours. The methods vary, and butchers and delis all have their own different techniques and methods.
Hand-sliced, smoked meat plays the starring role in the beloved Montreal smoked meat sandwich, served with mustard, dill pickle, crispy fries, and cherry cola. Tradition is everything in Quebec!
11 – Ragout de Pattes de Cochon et Boulettes – Pork Hock Stew with Meatballs
Pork hock and meatballs stew is a rich, wholesome dish, and can be considered both an original French-Canadian peasant food, and a holiday tradition.
Traditionally, the stew can be prepared for up to an entire day. The pig’s feet are simmered slowly with onions, and in time, the meat removed from the bones.
The pork meatballs are fried in browned flour, then added to the stew along with spices, cinnamon, and cloves. Served with mashed potatoes, this is a dish packed with flavor.
12 – Pate Chinois – Shepherd’s Pie
Outside Québec, this dish shares close similarities to the beloved Shepherd’s Pie. It is a baked dish of layered ground beef, sometimes with pork, sautéed onions, and corn, topped with mashed potatoes.
Once cooked, the mash forms a beautiful crust that holds the filling together, as with Shepherd’s Pie.
A Québécois staple, there are many theories as to the origin of the dish and its name. One theory is that the dish was adopted from Asian laborers who worked on the Canadian National Railway during the 19 th century by French-Canadian workers.
13 – Oreilles de Crisse – Pork Rinds
Oreilles are a simple but indulgent dish of pork rind, otherwise known as fatback or pig skin, fried until the fat is rendered and the skin is crispy.
Served in cabane a sucre, or sugar shacks, throughout Canada, this salty food is also a popular accompaniment to the many maple syrup-drenched dishes that can be discovered at food festivals, including maple-glazed ham, sausages, and even pork and beans.
14 – Pouding Chomeur – Jobless Man’s Pudding
Translated as ‘unemployed man’s pudding,’ pouding chomeur is a wholesome dish of cake batter and sweet sauce baked together.
It is believed that in the mid-19th century, English and Québec workers shared recipes, such as the British trifle. During the cold winters of the Great Depression, the Québécois found comfort in simple desserts.
Stale bread, milk, and maple syrup are the humble ingredients that make up this traditional dessert. The layers turn over each other during baking, resulting in a rich cake topped with a bubbling maple-cream sauce. It is an incredibly simple, but truly satisfying dessert.
15 – Tarte au Sirop d’Erable – Maple Syrup Pie
For the early Canadians, maple was the only form of sweetener in the New World. Today, the maple industry is a large part of Québec’s history, providing over 70% of the world’s maple syrup!
With such influence in Canadian cuisine, it should come as no surprise that maple syrup has found its way into so many foods across the country. Tarte au sirop d’erable, or maple syrup pie, puts this wildly popular sweet syrup center stage.
Originating from the Eastern townships of Québec, this incredibly sweet and buttery single-crust pie is filled with a combination of maple syrup, eggs, butter and brown sugar.
Often baked upside-down in a cast iron pan, the tarte has a luscious jelly texture, and generally the darker the syrup, the richer the flavour.
16 – Grands-Peres
The Québécois have some of the most interesting pastries and desserts, largely due to the maple syrup industry. Grands-Peres are certainly among those.
These ball-shaped cakes are made from flour, butter, milk and sugar. The dumplings are simmered in maple syrup and water, absorbing the sweetness, and resulting in a thickened sauce that is poured over the rich treat before serving.
Originating from the sugar shacks and logging camps of rural Quebec, they can be fruit-filled too, depending on preference.
17 – Tire sur la Neige (Canadian Maple-Syrup Taffy)
A truly Quebec food, maple taffy, or tire, is made by pouring boiling syrup on cold, fresh snow. If timed correctly, the syrup hardens to form a unique and delicious candy popular throughout the region.
During the maple harvesting, sugar shacks, or cabane a sucre, offer this frozen treat after the sap buckets are gathered and returned to the shacks by teams of horses with sledded wagons.
When it comes to making the perfect maple taffy, timing is everything. Some seasoned shack owners can create this dish by eye, but it is recommended to use a thermometer to reach the desired temperature before removing the syrup from the pan and pouring it over the snow.
Both adults and children in the region love this truly innovative sweet treat. This is definitely one for Instagram!
18 – Cidre Glace – Ice Cider
Made from apples frozen on the trees, apple ice wine, or ice cider, has a distinctively crisp and dry flavor.
Apples that have not fallen from the trees in the autumn are dehydrated and matured by the cold winter sun, and the fruits’ sugars concentrated naturally.
Though the early Norman settlers brought their cider craft with them, it wasn’t until 1990 that the provincial government gave approval for production. Various types of ice cider are categorized by process, alcohol percentage, and sugar content.
Light ice cider has an alcohol content of 7% strong 7-13%, and aperitif wine 13-20%. The cider can be still (with no carbonation) or sparkling.
Ice cider pairs well with desserts, foie gras, and cheeses, and many chefs use it to deglaze sauces for meat and fish.
Author’s Notebook – The Cuisine of My Ancestors
I am currently doing more research on Jean Doyon and his emigration to New France. It is a process that often ends up taking more time than I thought it would. On a recent morning, as John and I prepared a huge pot of traditional, Quebecois-style pea soup, I thought it would be fun to stray a bit from my writing outline and talk about the foods that helped create the culinary culture of the land of my Canadian ancestors. The more I thought about the time I spent in Mémère’s kitchen, the more memories of the food I remember floated up to sit on the back of my tongue.
I was a fairly chubby toddler. This isn’t surprising when you consider that I spent my younger years eating a lot of rich food from the kitchens of my Quebecois and German grandmothers. All that ended in 1960. When Opa died, Oma cut back on preparing the very rich, very tasty, wonderfully German meals she had always cooked for Opa. That was also the year of the “big family feud” and I didn’t see much of my father’s family after that – so the delicious, Quebecois feasts my Mémère used to prepare were no longer part of my diet – mais, je me souviens .
Like most kids, I didn’t think much about what I ate. But as an adult, a trip to Germany in the late 1980s sparked a new interest in the foods I remembered from Oma’s kitchen (it’s quite a revelation to discover that liver and onions can actually taste good!). John and I have traveled to Quebec many times over the last twenty-five years – Montreal, Quebec City, St. Georges, and the Montmorency/Chateau-Richer regions of the province. Those trips reminded me of the foods I ate at Mémère’s house. When traveling, John and I typically avoid restaurant chains and seek out the small, local restaurants where some of the best regional foods can be found. Our trip in 2015 was particularly rich in the best Quebecois food. I was surprised to find how much I connected with the flavors and textures of the food culture – the one I was weaned on as that chubby little toddler. If there is such a thing as a “food memory”, mine got a strong jolt during our last visit to Quebec.
Many of the traditional foods one associates with Québec have a very high fat content, much of it derived from the lard used in the cooking process. Back in the day of fur traders – the time when my ancestors first arrived on the shores of the St. Lawrence River – the winters were cold and modern insulation had yet to be invented. It was, therefore, necessary to insulate oneself against the cold, and fat was a great way to do that.
I did a bit of homework on the traditional foods of the region to see where they originated and how they evolved. The original settlers of New France came from France, but it didn’t take long for them to meet the natives and be introduced to the traditions of the surrounding tribes. In 1763, when the province was conquered by England, elements of English culture and food were infused into the cuisine of the area.
The most famous Québécois foods include tourtiéres (meat pies), pâté chinois (shepherd’s pie), pea soup, baked beans, creton (cold meat spread), ham and dozens of maple desserts like Grand-Péres (maple syrup dumplings) and Tire Sur La Neige (maple taffy).
The best way to explore the history of the regional food is to take a look at some of the most popular dishes that lay claim to being classic Quebecois and how they originated. Take for instance, Cretons . Not to be confused with Spam, it does look a bit like the canned meat product you find on grocery shelves in the States. Actually, it is a bit like the filling of tourtiére – with a base of salted pork seasoned with cinnamon and cloves. Unlike tourtiére, it is served cold, and usually at breakfast. The idea of a pork-based paste is probably derived from rillettes , which is a similar spread that has been popular in central France for quite a while.  The mixture is usually served at room temperature and spread on bread or toast – a bit like pâté . I don’t remember ever eating Cretons growing up, but I have had it in my travels in Quebec, and it is quite good.
I bet you didn’t know that one of America’s favorite barbecue side dishes, Fèves au Lard , or baked beans, originated in Quebec – sort of. The people of Quebec would like you to believe they invented this culinary delight – but in fact, it was brought to Canada by residents of New England who migrated to Quebec during the American Revolution. Beans are a hardy crop, and easy to grow. They are also easy to dry while maintaining all of their nutritional value. Cook them up with copious amounts of lard and maple syrup and you have the dish that everyone looks forward to eating with their hot dogs and burgers on Fourth of July.
Pea Soup is a staple of Canadian kitchens. Over the years I have experimented with various ways of making this soup until I have come up with what I consider “My” recipe. There are as many ways to make this as their are cooks. In Quebec, it is traditionally made with dried, yellow peas (which are nearly impossible to find in South Carolina). I usually bring back a number of bags with me when I travel to Canada. Again, peas are an easy crop to grow and when dried, they will last a very long time. Indeed, in researching my early ancestors, barrels of dried beans and peas were often listed in the inventory of their “estates” when they died. Valuable stuff to an early settler. To make soup, the peas are simmered with cubed, salted pork, carrots and a bay leaf. Thick and rich, it is one of those stick-to-your-ribs, nourishing, simple, inexpensive meals that would have part of the diet of the early settlers to the St. Lawrence region of Canada.
Then there is tourtiére or, what was simply called in our house, meat pie. In its simplest form, it is seasoned beef served in a pie crust. Meat pies are a quintessential British dish and it was likely first brought to Canada by French settlers that had spent some time in the American colonies. Tourtiére became a staple of the Quebecois cuisine after the United Kingdom took over Canada in 1763. Once again, this dish will change dramatically depending on who is doing the cooking – but it is definitely a dish I remember from my childhood.
There is a great deal of controversy over the “correct” way to make tourtiére . The meat is either pork, veal or beef, or more likely, a combination of all three (my choice). The spices used depends on who is doing the cooking and how bland or spicy you want the filling. The big debate is over whether or not to include potatoes in the filling. After my dad died and I reconnected with my aunt, she and I spent a lot of time in her kitchen together. Her tourtiére was fabulous – and didn’t include potatoes. On one visit to Quebec I spent some time with my father’s cousin’s wife, Jeanette, and her daughter, Isabelle. Jeanette made her tourtiére with potatoes. To be honest, I like it better without the potatoes, but that is because I grew up eating it that way. I tend to agree with Tante Ida that the potatoes sour a bit and add a strange flavor to the pie.
Tourtiére will be different depending on whose family table you are sitting at while enjoying it. It is rather like Italian “gravy”. Everyone has their own, special way of creating the dish their family has grown to love and expect. During my last visit to Quebec I was surprised that I never found tourtiére on the menu in any restaurant we tried. I questioned many a waiter or waitress on why none of the small, local restaurants served this quintessential Quebecois dish and the answer was always the same – they just didn’t want to compete with anyone’s Mémère!
Known as Shepherd’s Pie in Scotland, hachis parmentier in France and Pâté Chinois in French Canada, the simple and delicious concoction of ground beef, corn and mashed potatoes has become a family menu staple all over the world. There are various stories about where it originated and how it insinuated itself into the culinary culture of Quebec. For those of you who are not knowledgeable in French, chinois means Chinese. Pâté Chinois literally translates to Chinese Dough – which leads one to believe there might be some Chinese origin to this dish. Some believe that the dish was adapted from shepherd’s pie by Chinese workers during the building of the Canadian railway during the late 19th century – creating a lighter version of the traditional cottage pie by replacing the gravy with creamed corn. A Université du Québec à Montréal sociology professor, Jean-Pierre Lemasson, an expert in gastronomy and society, has dedicated countless hours of research to learning more about the Quebecois gastronomic favorite. He even wrote a book about it entitled, Le Mystère insondable du pâté chinois (The Inscrutable Mystery of Pâté Chinois ), and in spite of his extensive research, has still not found a definitive answer to where this dish originated.
Pie, or some variation, is a culinary staple in many cultures. Placing fillings, either savory or sweet, between, inside, or wrapped in flaky crusts, is found in many European cultures. The French have the “short” pastry down to a science. Just bite into a fresh croissant made the old fashioned way with real butter and you will see what I mean. And they are easy. Crusts and fillings can be made ahead, refrigerated until needed, and assembled and baked quickly. My mother couldn’t make a pie crust to save her soul. Which made conquering the process a challenge I refused to be beaten by. I don’t make a bad crust – but have to admit that Pillsbury does a great job of providing a very good, ready to use, substitute when I am just too busy to make my own.
The two pies that were most notable in Mémère’s house when I was small were blueberry (a favorite of my Aunt Ida who managed to so endear John to her version that he took her berry picking so she could have a long-term supply of the very best berries in her freezer) and Tarte au Sucre (Sugar Pie) .
I have been living in the Charleston, South Carolina area for over a decade and there is a local favorite here that is called Chess Pie (or ‘Jess Pie). It is very similar to Tarte au Sucre in it’s main ingredients, flavor and texture. But Tarte au Sucre is VERY French in its origins – Normandy and Pitou – both centers of immigration to New France.
Then we have Poutine . This is not a dish I grew up with, nor do I remember ever eating it outside of Quebec. On one of our visits to Canada, I decided to give it a try. It is not my favorite dish, in spite of the fact that I love all the ingredients (French fries, gravy, and cheese). But it is a marvelous example of the blending of the many cultures that settled New France. The potatoes came from Ireland and England (although the French undoubtedly got the the whole “fry” thing down to a science). The brown sauce is a unique French-Canadian take on gravy. The use of cheese curds is a French-English contribution – cheddar cheese coming from England and the curd concept developed by French settlers. There are no better masters at experimenting with cheese-making than the French. I think this dish is an acquired taste and not one that I am particularly fond of.
My mother wasn’t much of a cook. It was difficult cooking for my father as onions, garlic and spices were banned from any food that passed his lips. She spent most of her married life preparing very bland food – as that was the only thing my dad would eat. To her credit, after my parents divorced, my mom found some joy in cooking foods that actually smelled and tasted good! I imagine that a lot of the things my father refused to eat snuck into Mémère’s meat pies. I can’t imagine them tasting so good without the benefit of onions and spices.
A few things that came out of Mémère’s kitchen have stuck with me over the years. She sometimes made Grand-Péres which were gooey and sweet and were usually eaten right out of the pan. I think she only made them when her grandchildren were going to be around. Mémère also made donuts – the heavy, cake variety that were deep fried. I particularly liked the plain ones (and to this day, my favorite donut is a cake donut), but I wasn’t very fond of the ones with chocolate frosting. Mémère would melt baking chocolate for the frosting, but didn’t put sugar in it – so it was VERY bitter. Looking back, considering that Mémère came from a culinary culture that poured maple syrup over everything that wasn’t moving, I am amazed she didn’t sweeten her chocolate frosting. To this day, I will never choose the donut with chocolate frosting.
Mémère had her own, special take on Tire Sur La Neige />that allowed us to have this yummy treat anytime during the year. It was simply referred to as “ tire ” in Mémère’s house. No need to wait for Spring sugaring season and fresh snow. Someone in the family was always traveling to Canada and would return with lots and lots of cans of local maple syrup. On our last trip to Quebec, John and I managed to purchase 8 or 9 cans – each one less expensive than the one before. It became a game to try and find and purchase the least expensive cans of maple syrup. Mémère would remove the top from a can, replacing it with aluminum foil, and stick the can in her freezer. The maple syrup never froze solid, but it did obtain just the right viscosity to enable Mémère to stick a teaspoon into the amber syrup and swirl it around to create a cold, sweet maple lollipop. I have very vivid memories of standing in front of Mémère’s refrigerator in the house on Seymour Street in Hartford, Connecticut, waiting with my cousins Lynn and Linda for our patience to be rewarded.
Not surprisingly, the Québecois will look for any excuse to season their dishes with copious amounts of maple syrup! I grew up looking forward to my Mémère’s versions of Grand-Péres and Tire Sur La Neige . Tourtiére was almost a staple in our home when I was growing up – and although we didn’t spend a lot of time visiting with Mémère after or most of my dad’s side of the family after the big feud started, she would often send a meat pie home with my dad. It was a treat!
For any of you who are interested in trying some of these dishes yourself – and can’t get to Quebec anytime soon, I have started assembling an online cookbook of these recipes. Stay tuned for more information in the future. If there is something you would like to add, send it to me with a short story about why you remember it and why it should be part of our family tree cookbook.
 Rillettes is a meat paste, similar to pate. It is usually made from pork, that is cubed, chopped, heavily salted, and cooked slowly in fat until it is tender enough to shred. It is then cooked in enough of the fat to create a paste.
Cretons – photo by Carol on Flickr
Pea Soup – photo by Iris on Flickr
Poutin – photo of Joe Shabotnik on Flickr
Quebec Cuisine Including A Few Beer Dishes
First, I’d like to make some remarks about Quebec (French Canadian) cuisine in general, I grew up in Montreal and by the 70s (I had left in ) was starting to taste the foods outside the Jewish-Canadian orbit of my youth. One day I should – will – write about that tradition too, as, apart from being my own, the Montreal Jewish kitchen was non-pareil anywhere in the world. For another day.
I suppose as for our foods, famously bagels and corned beef/smoked meat, it’s only the most prominent foods which the larger society notices. The deeper couches, to keep with the French vein, remain known only to insiders so to speak, les initiés. So it is with the foods of the Québécois people. Unless one had experience close to a French community when growing up, in a social sense I mean, the true traditions of Quebec cuisine were only known to their practitioners.
Even in the 1960s though, most people in Quebec, whatever the social background, knew that pork-based tourtière was a famous Quebec dish (une tourte in France). It was probably the same for fèves au lard, the sweet-edged Quebec bean dish. Cretons, a pale, spiced meat spread similar to France’s rillettes, was known by many too in Montreal, as breakfast menus used to feature it as an alternative to bacon or ham. I’ve mentioned Quebec spruce beer in an earlier posting. In the patisserie area, Quebec’s excellent sugar pie – la tarte au sucre – also had fans amongst Quebeckers of all stripes.
Beyond these, the Americanized fast food such as patates frites and later poutine, and hot dogs vapeur (steamed) or “Michigan”, were, for most native English speakers, the face of Quebec cuisine. This was unfortunate as Quebec families for centuries had evolved a repertoire of savoury dishes using the full range of ingredients: meat, fish, eggs, cereals, vegetables, maple and brown sugar. This was real food, in other words. This tradition, before the era of air conditioning and refrigerators, also featured a “summer cuisine” with many distinctive, lighter dishes. As well, Quebec is a very large province of Canada and many foods evolved as regional specialties. Even “national” dishes such as tourtière had particular features depending on which part of Quebec you came from.
One needs to read a book like Lorraine Boisvenue’s Le Guide De La Cuisine Traditionelle Québécoise (Stanké, 1979) to understand the full range of dishes in the French Quebec community at large. The book has sections on soups (some 60 including fish soups), charcuterie, lamb, beef, veal, pork, ham, chicken, turkey and numerous other fowl, tourtières and pains de viande, fish and seafood, game, eggs, vegetables, salads, puddings, pastries, pies and beignets. There is yet more, extending to home-brewing and distilling. It is very clear from the objectives explained in her introduction that the dishes are solidly of tradition, not worked up to write a book that is. They were drawn from a family’s cuisine handed down in the maternal line, either her own or that of friends who suggested the dishes to her. It is a cuisine of oral tradition as she does not rely on earlier published sources for recipes – she didn’t need to.
Amongst its many interesting features, certain herbs were characteristic of Quebec cuisine, especially savory (sarriette) but also a preparation called herbes salés whose roots go back to the first French settlers. Quebec’s gelées, usually a fruit and sugar conserve served cold, are notable too and resemble the Portuguese marmelada. The bouillis need notice too, similar to the pots au feu of France.
With the urbanization and modernization of Quebec society in the 1950s and 60s which have only accelerated since – what was called la révolution tranquille – this culinary tradition, itself an amalgam of old French, British, American and some aboriginal influences, started to disappear. In the cities, people ate a diet similar to most Canadians. This was influenced by industrialized food production and distribution, various American trends including its franchise food systems, and the newer ethnic cuisines introduced by Italian, Greek, Chinese and Jewish Quebeckers. Since the 1980s, in common with many parts of the world, Quebec chefs and restaurants have sought to fuse some of these traditions or create their own freewheeling gastronomies. This has further obscured what belonged uniquely to French Canadians as their own.
No one knew this future better than Ms. Boisvenue. She concludes her introduction with this statement: “Nous ne saurons peut-être pas apprendre à nos petits-enfants les gestes de nos grand-mères saurons-nous au moins les raconter…” (We likely won’t be able to teach our grandchildren our grandmothers’ ways with food but at least we can tell them what existed…).
Since I was talking earlier this week about the use of beer in France’s far northern belt stretching from Dunkirk to Strasbourg, what of beer-and-food in another northern francophone belt, Quebec? The use of beer goes back to Quebec’s earliest days, well-before the British took over the province in the 1770s. One might expect there to be a broad range of beer dishes given that wine was never grown in Quebec. In fact this is not so but we first must make a crucial distinction. If we are talking about the new food world since the 1980s, one could say there is a developing beer cuisine in Quebec. Numerous books (I have one or two) have been written to extend Quebec gastronomy by including beer in everything from soup to nuts.
These books take inspiration from Belgian traditions, say, or the writer’s own ideas, and are no less valid for that, but this doesn’t mean the dishes explained have an age-old ancestry. Sometimes this is obvious, e.g., spaghetti sauce with beer, in other cases less so, but if you know Quebec’s food history reasonably well, you can usually tell the difference.
From what I have been able to tell, only a handful of dishes existed which used beer. As to why this is so, it is hard to say. Since Quebec grew no grapes once again, why not use beer in a broad range of dishes? I think the reasons are, first, unlike northern France, Quebec never had thousands of very small breweries. It had comparatively only a few, generally in the larger centres (eg. Montreal, Quebec City, Trois Rivières, Sherbrooke). Second, Quebec was never the most prosperous part of Canada, and I suspect when beer could be purchased, it was used to drink, not cook with. Third, Quebec had and still does a tradition of fermenting apples, inherited from their Norman ancestors. Cider features more than beer in some of its traditional foods.
Despite this, a few beer dishes exist. Ms. Boisvenue gives a recipes for pork stew and beer which involves the meat, garlic, onion, potato, cabbage and apples, brown sugar, clove and dry mustard. Her ham boiled in beer and molasses has an old English ring to my ears, maybe a Yorkshire soldier who mustered out after the British took Quebec married a Canadienne and introduced it to her family…
The great Quebec cookery writer, Jehane Benoit, has a few beer recipes in her extensive publications. There is one with game, beans and “pale ale”. In fact, Lorraine Boisvenue has a similar one, it calls for two pounds of deer, 3/4 lb salt pork, 4 cups beans, a quart of beer, carrot, onion, dry mustard, savory, pepper and salt. This one has no sweetening added, but I think Jehane Benoit’s did (can’t find that book at the moment). Most of the bean dishes in Ms. Boisvenue’s book in fact are sweetened, and there is an ardent debate in Quebec culinary circles whether Boston baked beans are really at the bottom of the famous Quebec fèves au lard, but it doesn’t really matter, the dish is so old it has acquired its Quebec garland of authenticity. Same thing for la cipaille, which probably comes from the English sea pie, which, despite its name, was a meat dish, but one cooked at sea.
Probably sailors brought it to the Montreal and Quebec ports, but who knows? Here is a young Quebec chef’s version: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/cipaille-meat-pies-on-d-is-for-dinner-1.3378571. Ms. Foucault speaks lightly of how the dish is constructed (not of its taste, but how you make it). This ties into Lorraine Boisvenue’s statement that the various words for the dish – the different spellings – don’t correspond to any regional identification, rather all spellings and variations in the recipes attest that each mère de famille had her own version.
Well, as a Quebec native albeit non-resident for 30 years, I offer my notional version: I’ll use Ms. Boisvenue’s “grandmother’s” recipe as the base. It calls for not less than beef, veal, pork, deer or moose, chicken, partridge, hare and salt pork, amongst numerous vegetables and seasoning. Got that? Then, I’ll replace part of her bouillon (stock) addition with beer. Which beer? Any one. Ms. Foucault is right, after many hours slow baking, cipaille will meld into a glorious whole. Molson Export Ale, Creemore Lager, Fuller’s London Pride, Orval Trappist … it will taste great regardless.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
DIY cabane à sucre
fig. a: maple sugaring in the northern woods again
Those of you who've been reading AEB over the last few years will know that we've long had an affection for scenes such as the one above: old prints of homesteaders practicing the alchemy of turning maple sap into maple syrup and maple sugar. You'll also know that we're big fans of the cuisine--yes, cuisine--of the traditional Québécois cabane à sucre: the beans, the ham, the cretons, and all the other assorted pork dishes, the ketchup aux fruits, the tire d'érable, and so on. You might also have noticed that Michelle's birthday is around this time of year, right in the thick of sugaring-off season. What you might not know, however--especially if you don't live in this region--is that if you wanted to take a sugar shack fanatic out to celebrate her birthday with a group of people at a traditional cabane à sucre, you'd have literally dozens upon dozens of establishments to choose from within a 100-150 km radius, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one of exceptional quality (top-notch ingredients + top-notch technique). Believe me, we've tried, and though we've found some good cabanes à sucre, ones worthy of a casual, slightly kitschy weekend outing, we've yet to find one that's worthy of a birthday party. Which means that as much as the idea of taking a group of people out to a traditional, rustic, intimate, backwoods sugar shack for Michelle's birthday appeals to us, it's never really been in the cards.
Now, rewind, if you will, for just a moment or two, to about three weeks ago. We were strolling down Ste-Catherine W. on our way to a movie when we looked in the window at Westcott Books and saw this handsome book:
fig. b: The Maple Sugar Book
The store was closed at the time, but the cover left such an impression on us that the very next day we made a special trip back to that part of town to take a closer look. And when we did, we liked what we saw, so we took that first edition of Helen & Scott Nearing's The Maple Sugar Book (1950) up to the front counter, chatted up the owner about his numerous bookstore cats, paid for the book, and took it home with us.
The Nearings' book is divided into three parts--roughly, the history of maple sugaring, the practice of maple sugaring, and the philosophy of life that goes along with maple sugaring--plus an appendix on maple recipes of all sorts (from candied sweet potatoes to maple divinity fudge), and it starts off with the kind of bang you might expect from the people who more or less pioneered the 20th century back-to-the-land movement:
We had three things in mind when we set ourselves to write this book. The first was to describe in detail the process of maple sugaring. The second was to present some interesting aspects of maple history. The third was to relate our experiments in homesteading and making a living from maple to the larger problem faced by so many people nowadays: how should one live?
What we have been developing here in the Green Mountains is a source of livelihood that leaves us time and room to live life simply and surely and worthily. Henry Thoreau wrote in his journal on February 18, 1850: "There is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting an honest living. Neither the New Testament nor Poor Richard speaks to our condition. I cannot think of a single page which entertains, much less answers, the questions which I put to myself on this subject. How to make the getting our living poetic! for if it is not poetic, it is not life but death that we get." Sugaring can bring one an honest living. And anyone who has ever sugared remembers the poesy of it to the end of his days.
We haven't exactly packed up our city-living ways, found ourselves a tract of hardscrabble land, and started homesteading (yet), but the Nearings' The Maple Sugar Book is definitely a great read for a book that devotes so much type to discussions of buckets, pipes, and evaporators, and we've been talking about it off and on for weeks.
In fact, it became such an important of our lives that when we started thinking about our annual sugar shack pilgrimage this year, perversely, the book actually inspired us to stay in the city and stage a full-blown cabane à sucre extravaganza ourselves. We'd be missing out on the fresh air and the woods, of course, but we'd be saving on car rental fees and gas, there'd be little risk of kitsch, we'd be able to guarantee that our food would be both tasty and of a high quality, we'd be able to control the stereo (i.e. we'd be able to play our La Bolduc records if we so desired, but we could just as easily play a Brigitte Fontaine & Areski record) and therefore the ambiance, and, who knows, maybe we'd be able to create some small-scale poesy right at home. We got so excited about the idea, that we decided to throw this sugar shack party for Michelle's birthday.
Now, before you get all hot and bothered because we left out the pea soup, the oreilles de crisse, and the pets de soeur, you should know that our menu was our own personal Dream Team: a few classics, like baked beans and ketchup aux fruits, alongside some dishes that you'd probably never find at a cabane à sucre but you'd be happier if you did (or, rather, we'd be happier if we did). The spread went as follows: two tourtières, two maple-braised pork shanks, two batches of baked beans (one with yellow eye beans, the other with soldier beans), a massive batch of cole slaw, ketchup aux fruits, cornichons, cheddar cheese with crackers and jerusalem artichoke relish, and a can of maple syrup for all those willing to add a little magic to the mix, plus apple crumble with maple frappé for dessert. The tablecloth was of the red & white checked variety, and Michelle had decorated the table with hay to give things a countrified feel (okay, so we threw in a little kitsch). The view from our specially designed AEB tablecam looked like this:
fig. c: tourtière de ville, ketchup aux fruits, sirop d'érable
Tourtière, of course, is the classic French-Canadian meat pie. It might even be the classic French-Canadian dish. Its roots stretch back to the days before the settlement of New France, but this is a dish which, in all of its varieties, became as French-Canadian as they come. The version we've been making since the fall of 2006 is a variation on the one found in Martin Picard & Co.'s Au Pied de Cochon: The Album, and it's the best tourtière recipe I've ever encountered. If you've ever had your typical modern, disappointing, bone-dry tourtière, this is not one of them. The PDC recipe is unorthodox but ingenious, using mushrooms, white wine, and a grated potato to keep the filling moist and flavorful. The PDC original calls for braised pork shank meat and 1 braised pig's knuckle because when they make them at the restaurant they've got a lot of braised pork shanks and braised pigs' knuckles on-hand and available. We've replaced the 200 g / 7 oz of braised pork shank meat with the same amount of ground veal for simplicity's sake, and it turns out famously every time. However, you could use some of the braised pork shank meat from the maple pigs' feet / maple pork shanks recipe you see below, if you so desired, and I'm sure your tourtière would turn out even more hallucinant. Note: when it comes to the ground pork, don't get it too lean--no need to go overboard, but you want a bit of extra fat content for tourtière. If that kind of thing concerns you, just go for a long walk or chop a little wood beforehand, but don't sell your tourtière short. Note #2: the added nutmeg is my touch. Again, this is very unorthodox, so go ahead and leave it out if you like, but I think it really makes a difference. Just remember to go easy on the spices. They should definitely be present, but you don't want to overpower the filling with either clove or cinnamon (or nutmeg, for that matter).
1 pie dough recipe
500 g / 1 lb ground pork
250 g / 1/2 lb ground veal
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
100 g / 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
100 ml / 1/2 cup white wine
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp butter
1 small potato, grated
1 small pinch ground cloves
1 small pinch ground cinnamon
1 small pinch ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large pot, sweat the onions and the garlic in the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the liquid released by the vegetables has evaporated. Add the white wine and continue cooking until the wine has evaporated as well. Add the ground pork, the ground veal, and the spices to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the chunks of meat. Add the grated potato and cook for another 10 minutes. Correct the seasoning, remove from the heat, and allow the mixture to cool.
Preheat your oven to 230º C / 450º F.
Roll out the pie dough and line a pie plate with half of it. Fill this with the ground meat mixture. Cover with the top half of the pie crust, brush it with the egg yolk, and poke or cut some holes in the top crust to allow the steam to escape during cooking.
Bake the pie in the oven for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 175º C / 350º F and bake for another 20-25 minutes.
Serve with ketchup aux fruits.
Two pork shanks from our friends at Porc Meilleur came in at under $5 and they looked and tasted great. This recipe is straight out of the PDC cookbook and it's typical of PDC's genius: take one of the lowliest cuts off one of the lowliest meats and redeem it with a cup of maple syrup and a lot of love.
maple pigs' feet / pork shanks
2 pigs' trotters or pork shanks
2 carrots, peeled
1 head of garlic, whole
1 sprig thyme
6 boiler onions
2 l / 8 cups pork stock
250 ml / 1 cup maple syrup
100 ml / 7 tbsp vinaigrette
15 g / 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
brine: 2 cups of salt dissolved in 4.5 l / 1.2 gallons of water
Soak the pigs' feet or pork shanks in the brine for 4-6 hours.
Put the meat, the onions, the carrots, the garlic and the thyme in an ovenproof casserole. Pour the stock and the maple syrup over the meat (ideally, the liquid should come about halfway up the sides of the feet/shanks). Bake uncovered in the oven at 160º C / 325º F, basting the meat with the broth every 30 minutes until they are well-glazed and have developed a nice crust. Bake for a total of four hours the meat should be extremely tender and come easilly off the bone. Remove the meat, the carrots, and the onions from the broth and set aside.
Strain the stock and drippings into a saucepan you should have approximately 2 cups total. Dice the carrots finely and add them and the onions to the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce by half. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vinaigrette. Add the parsley and correct the seasoning as needed.
Serve the meat with a generous amount of the sauce poured overtop.
1 cup vegetable oil
50 ml Dijon mustard
50 ml red wine vinegar
Whisk together the mustard, the vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil, stirring constantly to create a proper emulsion.
If you're all out of last summer's homemade canned ketchup aux fruits, here's a quick and easy off-season version.
ketchup aux fruits (winter version)
1 28-oz / 786 ml can of whole tomatoes & their liquid
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 pinch of ground cloves
1 small pinch cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a saucepan, bring the whole tomatoes, the onion, the garlic, and the celery to a boil and then simmer them gently for about 15-20 minutes, and gently break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Remove the saucepan from the heat and using an immersion blender or a conventional blender, blend half the mixture, then return it to the saucepan. Add the apples, the maple syrup, the vinegar and the spices and simmer for another 30-45 minutes. Makes plenty enough for a DIY sugar shack bash, and you'll be happy to have the leftovers.
This last recipe is of the WWMD variety: "what would Maurice do." We considered a whole host of maple syrup-laden desserts--backwoods-style crêpes, pouding chômeur, etc.--before settling on something we'd never ever had before because a) we have a lot of faith in Maurice and b) how can you argue with a recipe that gets this kind of write-up?
Once in a while Hettie [the Brockways' Irish "hired girl"] would make what she called Maple Frappe. I was delighted to help chop the ice which Tommy, the handyman, would get out of the big icehouse located out beyond the vegetable garden under a huge maple tree. Every winter, when the river was frozen, Grandfather hired a local man and his son to cut the large blocks of ice and haul them on a sleigh up the long hill to the icehouse. They were packed in sawdust from the lumber mill, and there they lasted all through the long hot summer. Each morning a large piece was dug out of the sawdust--which served as perfect insulation--washed with the hose, then put into the icebox in the summer kitchen. We were extremely advanced as we had a drain from the ice chest instead of the large pan everyone else seemed to use to catch the drippings.
I was delighted also to turn the freezer crank for the privilege of "licking" the ladle. Try this, and soon: 6 eggs beaten until creamy, 1 cup of pure maple syrup, 1 can of condensed milk, 1 can of evaporated milk, 1 pint of heavy cream whipped, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix together and freeze in an old-fashioned ice-cream freezer--not in the refrigerator ice trays. This makes 3 pints of frappe which, by itself is pure nectar, but atop warm apple pie is a delicacy that must be tasted to be believed.
We made an apple crumble instead of the apple pie recommended by Maurice, but it still ranked as "a delicacy that must be tasted to be believed." I don't know if I'm ready to wax poetic about maple frappé the way Maurice does--of course, we don't have an icehouse or a "hired girl" name Hettie, so maybe we didn't get the full experience--but it's got a really lovely, mellow maple flavor to it and I definitely have never had anything like it.