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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Recipe of the Day - Grandma Jennie's Meat Pie

You may or may not know that my Grandma McLennan (dad`s mom) was a famous baker and cook. She worked in logging camps from a young age and through all her years of experience came to perfect some of the simple dishes that my family loves. I grew up eating this perfectly prepared simple fare and took for granted how soul satisfying and delicious foods like berry pie, hearty stew, cloud biscuits, and ginger snaps could be. So when my grandmother was getting a little older we realized that we need to save her legacy in some way. My mother and father took on the job of helping make a recipe book. It ended up including recipes from many of the local cooks in the Muskoka area where she spent most of her life feeding people. Her recipe book is still for sale as at the museum in tiny town of Dorset Ontario.

This recipe is one of my all time favourites and made ahead and frozen is a quick and easy meal for the family, perfect for a cold Autumn night. About this pie my grandmother said: "I use beef, pork or moose, or a combination. they are all delicious. Finely chopped carrots are also a nice addition." I put the carrots in the recipe below.


Tourtière (aka meat pie) Although ground meat is quick to brown, cooking it slowly and for a longer period of time is what gives this pie its full flavour despite the simple ingredients. Tip: Pastry is cooked through on the bottom when the pastry slides freely in the pie pan when given a little sideways jerk.

Filling Ingredients:
1 recipe Jennie's pastry or enough for a 9” double crusted pie (recipe below)
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 cup onion diced
1 cup carrot, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground sage (or 1 tsp rubbed)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown the meat slowly but thoroughly over medium low heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic and continue cooking until carrots are soft. Add the water and seasonings and vegetables if desired, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

2. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes adding water 1/4 cup at a time to keep the mixture from burning or sticking. Thicken with 3 Tbsp flour of flour whisked into 1/2 cup of water. Cook a few minutes more until thickened (mixture should be moist but not soupy) and season to taste.

3. Remove from heat and cool. Spoon into flaky unbaked pastry shells. Trim excess and moisten the edge of the pastry shell. Cover with second shell, press edges together and crimp the edge of the pie to seal. Brush the top with milk (golden crust) or a beaten egg mixed with a little water (for a shiny crust) cut a steam vent in the top and bake at 350'F for 50-60 minutes or until pastry is golden and the mixture is bubbling.

Do Ahead: To freeze meat pies or chicken pot pies simply allow the filling to cool fully, assemble the pie and place on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, remove from tray and wrap well. Frozen pies can be stacked in the oven. To cook the pie later preheat oven to 350'F. Place unwrapped pie in oven and bake for about 1 hour until hot in the middle and golden brown.

My Pastry - Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

Ingredients - Makes enough pastry for 1 double crusted pie
2 cups flour (either all purpose (A/P) or half pastry flour half A/P)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup lard or shortening
1/3 cup water

Ingredients - Makes enough pastry for 2-3 double crusted pies
4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
1 lb cold lard or shortening
7/8 cup cold water

1. Work the fat into the flour using a pastry cutter or quickly with cool hands until the pieces are no smaller than 1/2” (about the size of a Lima bean). A good way to do this is to coat it with the flour. This makes it easier to handle as you rub the fat into the flour. Try to raise your hands above the bowl as you do this, allowing the rubbed in mixture to fall back in, collecting air as it does so. This helps to lighten your pastry. Add the water and mix together with your hands just until the dough forms a ball. Do not overwork the dough.

2. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for a bit (about half an hour). If its hot, put it in the fridge. At this point the pastry is also perfect for freezing and can be kept in the fridge for a week or the freezer for several months.

3. When ready to use, cut the dough into portions about the size of a soft ball. Flatten each into a disc as it makes it easier to roll. It is now ready to be rolled out for anything you like!


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