Margaret Button: Tourtiere — a family holiday tradition

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My son, David, his girlfriend, Casey, and I have just returned from a week on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. The problem is not only am I still in vacation mode, wondering where my margarita is — because everyone starts drinking at 10 a.m. by the pool — but I am totally brain-dead when it comes to what day and date it is — or even realizing it's my week to provide a food column.

After a late arrival at Logan Airport Saturday night, we turned on the TV. When Black Friday commercials for Sears and Target came on, my first thought was, "Wow, they're really starting early this year." During a supermarket ad pushing everything for a Thanksgiving meal, it hit me. Turkey day was five days away — which meant Christmas was about a month away.

Thankfully, we're going to friends' house for Thanksgiving and all I have to do is bring a Friendly's Jubilee Roll. I relaxed a little, until David mentioned having a tourtiere for dinner the following night.

I thought about my refrigerator at home. There is no ground pork lounging under the carton of vanilla ice cream, although there is some ground beef. Bread crumbs in the pantry? Yes. Raw onion? No. Pie crusts? No, but I could make my own. Oh, wait, no I couldn't — I used the last of the Crisco a few weeks ago.

So, a trip to the supermarket is called for. I had good intentions of going as soon as I drove home from Boston on Sunday, but I got there, unloaded all the dirty laundry from my suitcase and flopped face-down on the bed. By the time I woke up hours later, it was too late to go.

I really hate grocery shopping right before a holiday. The store is packed, the lines are long and no one is happy — including me. But since I have to work, ironically enough at a supermarket, Tuesday and Wednesday, Monday is the only night I can go.

Tourtiere is a French-Canadien meat pie my mother-in-law made every Thanksgiving and Christmas. She never wrote any recipes down and even when she did, it was minus the amount of ingredients she used because she had no clue how much of anything she used — "until it looks like enough" was her stock answer.

For the past 25 years, my sister-in-law, Julie, and I have tried to replicate the recipe. We've come close, but it's still not Corinne's — and I'm sure it never will be.

So, although I've printed it before, it was the only recipe I had in my pocketbook when I was reminded I needed to write a column. The seasonings are to taste, so feel free to experiment. Julie doesn't use cinnamon and uses 1/2 cup bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning; I remember Corinne adding cinnamon and I use more bread crumbs and less poultry seasoning (I'm not a big fan of sage).

Corinne's Meat Pie

Ingredients:

3/4 pound ground pork

1/4 pound ground beef

1 small onion

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup bread crumbs

pie crust

Directions:

Put everything except the bread crumbs into a pot and add water enough to slightly cover the ingredients. Cook until the meat is cooked through (it will resemble cooked oatmeal). Cool and skim off most of the grease, leaving some for flavor. Mix in bread crumbs and put into an 8-inch pie crust. Cover with top crust and make slits in top crust with knife. Bake at 350 degrees until the crust is brown, 45 to 60 minutes.


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