Seasonal Flavors: Canadian Meat Pie

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Slice of Homemade Canadian Tourtiere Meat Pie

Lucinda Auger was born in St. Louis de Lotbinére, a town just south of Quebec City.  Her family immigrated to Mindota, Minnesota in 1877 when she was four years old.  When she was twenty-one, she married Telesphore Viente, whose family later anglicized the name to Cummings.

Lucinda was musical, as were all her progeny. One of her 13 children, Joseph Merton Cummings married Elizabeth Frances Deffé, and they in turn had two children. One of those, Charles eventually came to live in Crozet.

Charles had joined the Cistercian order of monks in his youth (these are also called the Trappists). A few years ago, on an auspicious anniversary, he described in hilarious detail, how his first assignment at the Holy Trinity Abbey in Huntsville, UT, was to chop fence posts—an assignment he did not perform very well. But he did embrace monastic life and became a medieval scholar, and an author of influential books, including Monastic Practices and Eco-Spirituality.

Father Charles came to Crozet in 2014 to serve Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, and this is where I met him. Quiet of manner, quick of wit, tall and lanky, he became both a friend and a counselor.  

Father Charles’ sister Peggy and her husband Steve would visit the Crozet monastery periodically from their home in Indiana and we would share tea and lunch. Always on the lookout for a great recipe, when the talk turned to food, I learned of a family recipe that Lucinda Auger, Peggy and Charles’ grandmother had brought with her from Canada. It is such a special dish, and so luxurious for a family of modest means, that it is made only at Christmas. It is my sincere honor to share it here.

Father Charles went to heaven in January this year. We miss him terribly.

Peggy Cummings Victor’s Family Tourtiere Recipe

  • 2 T cooking oil
  • 2 lbs. lean, ground pork 
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large potato, peeled and grated
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/8 tsp cloves 
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pastry for 2-crust pie

Heat oil in a skillet, add ground pork, onions and cook until meat is lightly browned. Mix flour with water and stir into meat mixture. 

Add grated potato, carrot and seasonings, simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and cool. Line pie plate with pastry and fill with meat mixture.

Cover with pastry and slash the top in several places. Brush top with 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 T water. 

Bake in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 45 minutes, or until crust is lightly brown. 

Let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting in wedges.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyeux Noel!  

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