Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Turkey Tourtière

This is actually mixed turkey and chicken tourtière, but I could not resist the alliteration, and you could replace the chicken with a piece of turkey, if you can get it.

It is sometimes said that tourtière is named for the passenger pigeons (known in French as tourtes) which once were very common in Canada. More realistically, it may be named for the dish in which it was baked and is related, linguistically at least, to tortes and tarts. Still, it seems very likely that the first tourtières of New France would have been made with tourtes more often than with pork or beef. I have read about early settlers (in Ontario) complaining about the ubiquity of passenger pigeon at the table; they were so numerous that people turned to them as food the way I turn to a bowl of spaghetti when other foods seem too complicated or time consuming.

Be that as it may, pork or a pork and beef combination is now the nearly universal filling for tourtières. I thought I would do something different though, and I can say I was very pleased with the results.

2 hours - 1 hour prep time
6 to 12 servings

Turkey Tourtière

Make the Pastry:
2 1/4 cups soft unbleached and/or whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lard or shortening
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 to 4 tablespoons water
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon cream

Measure the flour into a mixing bowl. I used half whole wheat and half unbleached flour. Add the salt and mix it in well, then add the lard and butter cut into thin slices or chunks. Use a pastry cutter to cut the fats in, until they are the size of a pea or smaller throughout. Break in the whole egg, and add the yolk from the second egg, keeping the second white aside in a small bowl.  Work the egg into the dough with a fork. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is moist enough to come together as a ball. I find myself abandoning the fork at some point, and working it with my hands. Gently though; it should not be over-mixed and certainly not kneaded. Use as little water as you can.

When the dough has formed a ball, cover it with a tea towel (leave it in the mixing bowl) and set it aside in a cool place until wanted. Add the cream to the egg white, blend well, and set it aside too.

Make the Filling & Finish the Tourtière:
2 or 3 medium potatoes (300 grams; 10 ounces)
500 grams (1 pound) skin-on but boneless chicken thighs
1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
4 teaspoons poultry seasoning, salt omitted
3/4 teaspoon allspice berries, ground
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
500 grams (1 pound) lean ground turkey
2/3 cup fine bread crumbs

Wash the potatoes, trim them - indeed, peel them if you are so inclined - and cut them into small cubes. Put them in a pot with water to cover them well, and bring them to a boil. Boil them for 5 or 6 minutes then drain them and rinse them in cool water. Drain well and set aside.

Meanwhile, cut the skin and fat from the chicken, and chop it roughly. Put it in a large skillet and let it render over medium heat while you chop the chicken into pieces about the size of a teaspoon. Peel and chop the onion finely, and wash, trim, and chop the celery finely. Peel and mince the garlic.

When 2 to 4 tablespoons of fat have been rendered from the skins, remove the solids and discard them. Add the onion, celery, and drained potatoes to the pan and cook, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, until softened and very slightly browned. Add the chicken pieces and cook until white throughout. Sprinkle with the seasonings and the garlic, and cook for a minute or 2 more. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

While the filling cools, roll out about 60% of the dough on a sheet of parchment paper, sprinkled with a little flour. Fit it into a 9" pie plate, and peel off the paper.

Mix the ground turkey and bread crumbs into the filling, and place it into the prepared crust. Roll out the remaining pastry on the parchment and flip it onto the top of the tourtière. Pinch it sealed all around, and cut vent holes at intervals in the top crust. Brush it thoroughly with the reserved egg white and cream.

Bake the tourtière for 50 minutes until a deep golden colour. Best to do this on a tray; the pastry is very rich and may spatter grease. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving, although it is equally good warm or cold.

Last year at this time I made Squash Polenta.

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