Slow Days: Tourtiere

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

In French Canada, Christmas is marked by a series of events. Beginning on December 24, there is a meatless meal for dinner — often including oysters. Then midnight mass and then the Revillion: dining with family into the wee hours to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. And what do they eat on this special night? Tourtiere. The recipe for this pork pie goes back to medieval times: you can tell by the combination of ‘exotic’ spices with meat. The preparation of the pie begins in November [St Martin’s Day perhaps?], when the pig would be slaughtered. Bits of meat left over from other cuts would be ground or minced, combined with spices, and wrapped in a lard pastry. It could be shaped as a boule or in a pie plate. As many of these pies as possible would be put into the cold shed off the kitchen, where they would freeze for the rest of the winter, ready to be taken out and baked for a meal — the original convenience food.

Our recipes, for the tourtière and its crust, are from Craig Claiborne’s NYT International Cook Book. We enjoy tourtiere for dinner on some evening in December [not Christmas Eve, for then we dine on Dear Husband’s Seafood Chowder]. Since it can be prepared in November or even October, tourtière makes a perfect ‘prepared meal’ to whisk from the freezer for dinner on a busy day.

Ground pork, spices, savory [of course!], onions, garlic, stock — simple ingredients for an old-fashioned meal.

Since I don’t know how many you will be serving, I’ve written the recipe for 6 or 3 or 2 persons. We will be serving only two this year.

Sv 6Sv 3Sv 2
1 cup
1 clove
2 Tbsp
½ cup
½ clove
1 Tbsp
1/3 cup chopped onion
½ clove minced garlic
2 tsp butter
Chop the onion and garlic an cook in the butter until wilted.
1 ½ #¾ #½ # /8 oz ground pork Add to the pan and cook, breaking up lumps.
¾ tsp
¾ tsp
¾ tsp
1 leaf
¾ cup
ad lib
3/8 tsp
3/8 tsp
3/8 tsp
½ leaf
1/3 cup
ad lib
2 Large pinch cloves
2 large pinch cinnamon
2large pinch savory
1/3 leaf bay
¼ cup pork stock
salt & pepper to taste
Add the seasonings and stock to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring sometimes.Cool the mixture and run it through a food processor to chop the filling more thoroughly.
Scrape into a bowl and chill thoroughly.

**This lard pastry is traditional and is perfect for a savory pie.

1 cup white whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
Cut together with a pastry blender or 2 table knives until ingredients are uniformly crumbly.
3+ Tbsp cold waterUsing a 2-pronged fork, stir the water into the pastry crumbs, adding more if needed, until it all comes together in a ball.

Roll out the pastry and fit into an appropriate pie plate or into a bowl large enough to contain the filling. If baking as a pie or tart, cover filling with a top crust. If baking as a boule, line the bowl with pastry, with a generous overhang. Put the filling in the bowl and trim the pastry to enclose, without too much bunching or overlap. Seal edges. 

If cooking as a boule, turn out the boule onto a glass pie plate so that the round side is up and the gathered side is on the bottom. This year, I used some extra dough to make some decorations. Been watching too much Great British Baking Show, I guess.

Freeze the pie – overnight or for weeks.
The day before baking: Thaw the pie in the refrigerator. To bake, set oven at 425F. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn down temperature to 350F and bake for 30-40 minutes [check it at 25 minutes]. Crust should be cooked and beginning to turn golden.

The tourtière is best served with gravy, winter vegetables, and ‘chow‘, a green tomato relish beloved in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. What a fine meal for a winter night.