December 26, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE : Gobby's Christmas Eve Tourtière (Meat Pie)

In May, I shared a heritage recipe for Tourtière (a.k.a. French-Canadian Meat Pie). I used my grandma's recipe for the crust and another woman's recipe for the filling. My family wasn't crazy about the filling at all--we just really didn't like the spices in it. I only found out later that my grandma ("Gobby") had both her crust and filling recipes in a cookbook filled with her recipes.

When I learned that Gobby made this every year for Christmas Eve--not just for the family, but also for the priest at church and close friends--I decided I really wanted to make it for Christmas Eve. Using her recipe.

I asked my Aunt Mickey about this recipe and she believes it came from my grandpa's grandmother. So that would make her my great-great-grandmother...? When I had a free trial of, I went as far a back as my great-great-great-grandmother. Interestingly, all of my grandparents back to that point lived within a 10-mile radius of where I live now. Mary Baron, who we believe this recipe came from, was born in 1856. I actually have a picture of her! (Which I found on Ancestry before my trial ended.)

I don't know any more about why the meat pie became "a thing" for my grandma to make every Christmas Eve, but it made me want to do the same.

I was completely unprepared to make it, however. I have had such a stressful month and nothing went as I hoped or planned. However, we had zero groceries in the house on Christmas Eve, so I braved the grocery store and went grocery shopping for a week's worth of food. Fun! (If you don't know by now, I despise grocery shopping, so I planned that terribly.) Anyway, I bought the ingredients for Gobby's Tourtière recipe.

I've already written about her a few times, but I figured I'd write something about Christmas with Gobby. Every year on the Sunday before Christmas, Gobby had a Christmas party for the whole family: her six children and all of the grandchildren and then great-grandchildren. My mom was the youngest of six kids, so my brother Nathan and I are the two youngest of our generation in the family. We were actually the same age as some of the great-grandchildren! We weren't part of the "cool cousins" because we were so much younger, haha ;)

Anyway, we gathered annually at Gobby's house for the Christmas party until it got too big and then we started doing it at the town firehall. My uncle was the fire chief and the whole volunteer fire department was basically family (literally and figuratively) in such a small town anyways, so it wasn't uncommon for parties in there. (I was young, but I do remember that there was a Playboy pinball machine in there! Hahaha).

The annual Christmas party was basically like a family reunion, even though most of my extended family lived pretty close to home. I loved going to Gobby's parties because I got to see my cool older cousins. Gobby gave everyone in the family a gift and later, we did white elephant gift exchanges, which were always fun.

Gobby got sick with Alzheimer's disease when I was in my teens (which you can read about on this post about my biggest fear) and ironically, she passed away on the Sunday before Christmas in 1999--the same day that her Christmas party/family reunion would have taken place. I can remember a moment that weekend where a lot of my aunts, uncles, and cousins packed into her bedroom and sang Christmas carols around her bed. For some reason, when they started singing Silent Night, I had to go sit on the front porch to get away. I still can't listen to that song and it's been 22 years.)

We kept the tradition of Gobby's Christmas Party going on for a several years after that, but fewer and fewer of the family members would show up, and eventually we just didn't do it anymore. It never felt the same. I really wish it was still a tradition because I rarely see my extended family anymore!

I can't remember the last time I was excited about Christmastime, but the loss of Gobby's Christmas parties definitely played a roll in it. Back then, Christmas was all about family; I loved getting to see all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins! Now that everything has become more modern, Christmas seems to be so commercialized and much more busy and stressful than simple family get-togethers. At some point, I turned into a Christmas Grinch and just wished I could go to sleep from Thanksgiving until the New Year.

Since I felt EXTRA Grinch-y this Christmas (between the issues with the cats and getting even less sleep than usual and my pain being really bad and just being completely unprepared and stressed out), I decided to try to make up for it on Christmas Eve (well, after a particularly bad morning). I spent quite a bit of time working on this Tourtière and I tried to be pleasant about Christmas music and wrapping gifts and all that. Jerry, the kids, and I all watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation that evening which was fun (I really do love that movie).

It was funny--when Clark Griswold starts losing it and grabs a chainsaw to take downstairs and cut down a tree, he notices that the knob on the top of the banister is loose. He just calmly uses the chainsaw to cut it off and move along. At that point in the movie, both of my kids said simultaneously, "That's totally you, Mama!" Hahaha!! I was thinking the same thing ;)

Here is the scene, in case you haven't seen it:

Anyways! Moving on to the meat pie...

I didn't turn this into an elaborate dinner or anything; I just made the meat pie. My Aunt Mickey told me that my grandma always served it with cranberry sauce, and I wish I had known earlier so I could have bought some to go with it. Instead, I just served it as-is.

Okay, as always, I copied and followed this recipe exactly as written by my grandma--no substitutions or alterations. Check my notes after the recipe for any clarifications. The printer-friendly version was rewritten by me with the clarifications included.

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Tourtière Pie Crust

Combine in mixing bowl:

2 Cups sifted flour
1/3 tsp. salt

Cut in with pastry blender:

1/2 Cup butter
3 Tbs. Lard

Stir in:

1 egg, beaten
1/4 Cup milk

Blend thoroughly, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 1 hr.


4# lean ground pork
1 Tbs. sage
1 Tbs. poultry seasoning
4 tsp. salt
4 onions, chopped
4 pinches pepper

Barely cover ground pork with water. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 1 hour. With slotted spoon, put meat into unbaked pie shell. Spoon a small amount of water over top. Sprinkle with 1 or 2 Tbs. water. Bake at 350 F 45 to 50 min. or until crust is browned.

My Notes:

These are obviously two different recipes; one for the crust and one for the filling.

I thought the amount of meat seemed like a LOT for one pie. Considering I'd made the crust before for another meat pie, I knew that the crust was enough for just one pie. I couldn't be sure, but I ended up making two batches of the pie crust just in case the filling was meant for two pies. (In the end, it turned out to be correct--there is absolutely NO way that the filling could fit in one pie. It is plenty for two!)

It's hard to tell in the photos, but this is the amount of pork and onions. My face was streaming with tears after cutting all those onions!

The crust recipe was pretty straight-forward. I made one ball of dough and then after realizing how much filling there would be, I made a second ball and put them both in the fridge to chill.

You'll need a very large skillet for the filling. I laid all of the pork out along the bottom and then after adding the water, I just layered the ingredients in order on top. It didn't say to stir it, so I didn't do that.

(After it cooked for a little while, though, I did break up the meat and give it a stir once in a while.)

After bringing it to a boil, I simmered it at a very low heat--my stove reads 1-10 and I had it on 2. It was cooked perfectly after an hour.

I pulled out a ball of the pie crust dough and broke it in half. I rolled out a bottom crust to line the plate and then a top crust to cover everything.

I was right about the filling; I could only fit half of it in the crust. So I pulled out the other ball of dough and made a second pie at the same time.

It said to spoon a small amount of water over the top--I had no idea how much that was! I probably spooned about 3 Tbsp. of water. Then it said to sprinkle with 1-2 Tbsp. flour, so I did 1-1/2.

Topped it with the top crust and pinched the edges closed (I can't do fancy edges; I can barely roll out a crust!). Brushed with the egg wash.

I baked them individually because I didn't want to mess up the baking times by doing both at the same time. I pulled each of them out after 50 minutes.

The verdict: Jerry and I loved this! (The kids ate it without complaint, but when I asked, they said, "yeah, it was okay".) My only complaint would be how loose the filling is. There is no binder; in the other recipes I've seen, most of them use mashed potatoes to bind the meat together. I thought maybe the flour sprinkled on top of the filling would do this, but it didn't.

Also, the bottom (of the pie plate) had a lot of liquid in it after I cut the first piece. When I pulled the piece of pie out of the plate, it was fine--the liquid stayed in the pie plate. But next time, I might add a mashed potato--just enough to bind the meat and keep it from falling out of the crust.

Other than that, though, it was REALLY good. Jerry and I each went back for a second piece. (I like these seasonings much better than the ones I tried in the previous heritage recipe post.) My only regret is that I didn't have cranberry sauce to go with it!

Maybe I'll turn this into a Christmas Eve thing at my own house. It was fun making something that I knew was a tradition of my grandma's.


  1. Do you have family from Quebec? Tourtière is a traditional québécoise food to eat at Christmas and on New Year's Eve.

  2. This sounds super yummy! I might have to try it on some weekend I have off and can concentrate on it! Haha. I feel you on feeling extra Grinch-y this year. Everything still seems so off with Covid and I just wasn't feeling it. I didn't even put up my tree (I know, just call me Scrooge ;)) I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend together!

  3. Love these memories about Gobby and your family. Congratulations on (somewhat) salvaging the holiday. The pie looks delicious.

  4. I love tourtiere! My mom's family is from Quebec and my aunt would make this every Christams as well. She tends to grind the pork into a paste-like consistency (like pate), to keep the filling from falling out. It's not the best texture, but I absolutely love it! And she adds cloves to the mixture. Yum, yum!

  5. Put your onion in the freezer for 30 minutes before you chop it & no tears!

  6. I understand the feeling of how Christmas has changed from when we were kids. That scene in Christmas Vacation when Clark is watching the old movies gets me every time. My Grandma passed away when I was 17, and Christmas hasn't felt the same since. Judy Garland's version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is the song that makes me happy and sad at the same time because that was her favorite. Growing up sucks.
    Glad the recipe turned out good! That pie crust looks SO dang good!


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