Modern Light Tourtiere

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Serves: 8

Tourtière is the marvellous savoury meat pie traditionally served on Christmas eve in Quebec – and now fortunately a custom that has swept across Canada. Classically made with a mixture of beef, pork and veal; our version using only ground chicken is certainly lighter but none the less flavourful. Nowadays we like to keep it uber healthy and let guests wrap the warm filling in buttery lettuce leaves -which works beautifully as a holiday appetizer. When you go this Asian route offer hoisin sauce and hot-garlic chili sauce for dabbing on the filling. Or go to the bottom of this recipe for easy directions to turn the filling into a pie.


2 lbs (1 kg) ground chicken
3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped cooking onion
3 cups (750 mL) chicken broth
1 tbsp (15 mL) dried sage leaves, crumbled
1 tbsp (15 mL) dried leaf thyme
1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) allspice
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) celery salt or table salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) nutmeg
3 bay leaves
1 cup (250 mL) diced carrots
1 cup (250 mL) diced celery
3/4 cup (175 mL) rolled oats


1 Melt butter in a large wide frying pan. Add onions and cook over medium-low heat until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth and all the seasonings including salt and bay leaves. Increase heat to medium. Dice carrot and celery and add.
2 Once mixture comes to a boil, continue boiling over medium, uncovered, for 20 minutes to develop flavour and reduce the broth by at least half.
3 Then add all the chicken and constantly work chicken with a fork to keep it separated. You do not want it to clump. Cook, working with a fork often to keep separated, until no pink remains, about 10 minutes. There should just be a little broth left in the bottom of the pan. Remove bay leaves.
4 To thicken the mixture, sprinkle with oatmeal, stirring as you add. Stir for about 5 minutes to cook oatmeal and thicken, then turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. (If making ahead, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Then reheat in if you wish in a saucepan or microwave, stirring often.)
5 Use as a pie filling or spoon into a large bowl and set on a platter. Sprinkle with green onions. Place lettuce leaves on the platter. Set out hoisin sauces and hot sauces in small bowls. Guests can spoon the tourtière into lettuce cups, then dot with the sauces of their choice.


1 Make enough pastry for a two crust deep sided 10 inch (25 cm) pie. (You can use a 9 inch (22.5 cm) pie plate, but you will have some filling leftover.) On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the pastry and fit into the pie plate. Spoon in room temperature or chilled filling and roughly smooth the surface. Roll out remaining pastry and place on top of pie. Press pastry edges together to seal. Trim and flute. Make 3 slits in top crust for steam to escape. Bake in bottom half of a preheat 425°F (205°C) oven for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350°C (180°C) and continue baking for 50 more minutes or until pastry is golden.