Chef Tom – The Pies Have It

I’ve organized a Supper Club with around twenty food enthusiasts to meet for a group dinner every six to eight weeks for going on sixteen years. I managed a Gourmet Club for nearly as long before that.

The Pandemic slowed us down, but we never stopped, even though sharing a meal over Zoom is SO VERY unsatisfying. We have been back to gathering in person again for a few months now. Everyone triple-vaxed of course.

Our last theme was Jewish Food of India (yep, that’s a thing), and our next one is going to be Québécois Cuisine.

Tarte l’Oignon
Sugar Pie

So far our upcoming menu includes many of the classics: Poutine, Smoked Meats of Montreal, Tarte a l’Oignon, Soupe aux Pois (Quebec Yellow Pea Soup), Tarte Sucre (Sugar Pie), and Pouding Chomeur.

My offer is going to be a Tourtière, a classic meat and potato pie, only rather than a double-crust, I’m making it with puff pastry.

What is it with French Canadians making everything into a pie??

This is a bit of an undertaking, but the result is outstanding and well worth the effort. Serve it with your favorite veggies and a crisp salad. I am tempted to make a rich gravy, as well.


Tourtière with Puff Pastry Crust

Tourtière, also called pâté à viande, a double-crusted meat pie that is likely named for a shallow pie dish still used for cooking and serving tourtes (pies) in France. The ground or chopped filling usually includes pork and is sometimes mixed with other meats, including local game, such as rabbit, pheasant, or moose.

Prep : 30 mins

Cook : 45 mins


1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 lb. ground pork

1/2 lb. ground chicken (optional: sub some kind of game, like rabbit, pheasant, elk, boar, moose)

1 large onion, halved then sliced ¼-inch

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. sage or thyme

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup beef bone broth

1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 med russet potato, peeled and shredded

1 lb. (454 g) frozen puff pastry

1 egg

1 Tbsp water


Meat Filling

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and heat. Add ground meats and sauté until browned, 7-10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add a bit more oil, then the onions, reduce the heat to med-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep brown and caramelized. Remove and add to the meat.

Add a bit more oil, increase the heat to med-high and add the mushrooms. Let them rest for a couple of minutes, stir, let them rest again. This allows them to sear, intensifying their flavor. Once they’ve browned nicely, add the garlic and cook until transparent and soft, 3-5 minutes.

Add spices and let cook until fragrant, 1 minute

Deglaze pan with wine. Add the meat and onions.

Stir in beef bone broth and Worcestershire sauce.

Add shredded potatoes and cook until potatoes are soft and mixture thickens, 10-12 minutes. The filling should be sticky with no remaining liquid.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and cool. Can be prepared a day ahead.


Preheat the oven to 400°F and cut a large piece of parchment paper to fit a large sheet pan. Or use silicone mat for sheet pan.

Place cut parchment on counter and roll out one thawed puff pastry layer to form a 10″x13″ rectangle. Transfer parchment with pastry to sheet pan.

Add cold meat filling to top of puff pastry leaving a one inch border around the outer edge. Press to pile meat filling in space. Lightly wet outer edge of pastry with water all around.

On floured surface, roll out second piece of puff pastry to be slightly bigger than first piece. Gently roll on floured rolling pin and transfer to position on top of meat. Pinch together edges and flute for decorative effect if desired.

Score one inch diagonal lines across top of pastry making a couple of slits to allow steam to escape.

In small dish, gently beat egg with water. Using a soft bristle brush, brush a thin, even layer of egg wash over top of puff pastry.

Place in oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown on top.


Speaking of Quebec…

Jacques Dupuis – Traditional Music of Quebec

Jacques Dupuis Performing Two Traditional Quebec Songs “La Madelon” and “La Cuisinière”

Caribou – Je veux boire du rhum


Ren & Sam Tompkins – Earned it /Mans World / Falling

Ukrainian Village Voices
A drinking song about camaraderie, in which the soloist urges his friends to gather and imbibe, for tomorrow they may not all be together. Their enemies, according to the singers, worry about how this group will pay its sum. But in the end this matters little; the group will vanquish its enemies, ending with the call: “Oh let us drink our fill, brothers, and we will laugh.”


Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at

Tarte a l’Oignon, Tarte Sucre (Sugar Pie), Tourtière, Chef Tom, Traditional Quebec music,

2 Responses to “Chef Tom – The Pies Have It”

  1. Wonderful! But you must have creton for appetizer! C’est parfait!

    French-Canadian Creton (Spicy Pork Pate)
    Creton may be served as an appetizer before a festive meal or as a picnic snack.

    1 pound ground pork
    2 onions, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon cloves
    1 cup dry bread crumbs

    Combine the pork, onions, and garlic in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat. Simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for about one hour.
    Add the cinnamon and cloves and continue simmering for about 20–30 minutes more.
    Add bread crumbs and simmer for about 15 more minutes. (For a spicier mixture, more cinnamon or cloves may be added.)
    Place a colander in the sink, and pour the creton mixture into it to drain off excess liquid. (Rinse the sink thoroughly, because the liquid may contain grease from the meat.)
    Place the cooked creton in several small containers (such as empty margarine tubs or small bowls), packing the mixture down tightly.
    Refrigerate. Serve cold as a spread for French bread or crackers.

    cheers! 😉

    • Thanks, Roxanne, This goes into my recipe box. As it stands, tomorrow’s menu is pretty meat heavy, though I am a stickler for tradition. We ended up with Tarte l’Oignon, Tourtiere, Poutine, Montreal Smoked Meat, Tarte Sucre, and Pouding Chomeur. Oh, and one salad. lol

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