Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Traditional Venison Tourtière

I eat meat.

Perhaps not on a daily basis—the weeks when Mr Lannis is on afternoon shift and it's only the kidlets and I for dinner, I could pass as a vegetarian, really—but I would classify myself as a solid meat eater.

(We have an amazing local butcher... for that reason alone, I don't think I could ever give up meat completely. It's locally raised meat and tastes oh so good!)

Today I've decided to share a recipe.

It was my great aunt's, and my mother always made it religiously (heh) for dinner on Christmas Eve.

And best of all: it always gets rave reviews from those who regularly enjoy meat.

Real meat.

Like, went out and shot it dead, M.E.A.T.

Venison, specifically.

For the record, never ask the hunter in your family, "Honey, did you catch a deer?" It brings to mind the image of blaze-orange-clad lunatics running through the bush with butterfly nets...

FYI: They don't like that very much.

You don't catch deer, no.

You get deer. As in shoot them.

/Public Service Announcement

So here's what I do with the venison that comes into our house. I prefer ground venison only, because (full disclosure) this is the only venison meal I have ever made.

It's true. Mr Lannis brings in the deer meat, and he fries up the rest while I covet the ground deer burger for meat pies. And it can sometimes be a winter freaking full of meat pies...

As I'm sure you can imagine.

Er... or maybe not, since we haven't gotten to the recipe part.

Okay, so, this recipe yields three pies, and takes one pound each of ground venison, ground pork, and ground beef... so if one pound of ground venison helps to make three pies...

Uh... not sure how much a deer weighs, per se, but I'm confident it's more than our cat.

Since Minette is seven pounds, a cat's worth of pies would be... let's see... seven times three equals twenty-one... so... carry the mammal...

Oh... heavy! <--joint math and meat pie joke. (HaHA! You're welcome.)

Regardless, that's a crapload of venison, right there (yes, that's metric).

And it would be more, too, if the hunt camp didn't diplomatically split the venison between the group (and thank Bambi for THAT!). As it stands, we have up to a pie a week all through the winter.

And those Canadian winters? They be looooong...

Okay. So. Rambling aside, here's the recipe.

Full disclosure: I use premade pie crusts. Yes, sacrilege, I know. I'm offended on your behalf, trust. That is until you factor in the sheer number of pies I clearly make. Like, multiple cat's worth of pies (and now I feel like Mrs Lovett's rival, Mrs Mooney, heh).

Totally worth the blatant disregard for pastry snobbery, and I stand by my choice.

So. Given that you have three pie crusts set aside (pre-made or homemade, I'll leave the work decision up to you), here's how you go about making the filling:

Filling for two to three pies (depending on how full you prefer your pies):

  • 1 lb ground beef, browned and drained of fat.
  • 1 lb ground pork, browned and drained of fat.
  • 1 lb ground venison, browned and drained fat.
  • 3 small onions, finely chopped.
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or more, if you're a big garlic fan)
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried savory
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups crumbled white bread (we freeze leftover burger buns from the summer and reuse them)

Bring all ingredients to a boil except the breadcrumbs. Stir mixture and cook uncovered on medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs at at time, and mix in, allowing bread to absorb moisture.

Make dough Grab pie crusts from freezer, let soften while meat mixture cools.

Fill crusts with meat mixture, seal edges and vent the top. I use a knife to cut a big V on the top, so I don't accidentally mix up an apple pie for a tourtière sitting in the freezer.

(Man, that would be funny. Feel free to not put a V on the top of your pie and accidentally-on-purpose serve it cold as dessert to company. Hilarity will ensue, trust. Uh... be sure to report back when you're done, heh).

Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, or until top is browned (10 minutes at 400F, then the rest at 350F), then serve hot.

These pies? They freeze really well (hence the previous comment about pies in the freezer). To reheat them from frozen, bake them at 350F for 40-45 minutes until they begin to brown, or until a knife inserted into the centre feels hot to the touch when removed, then serve.

Mm... Bambi...


  1. Oh, fellow Canadian-my freezer is full of the good stuff too.

  2. Jane, I've *seen* your posts--I can guarantee your freezer (and fridge, for that matter) are full of more "good stuff" than this under achiever's... ;)