By Jean-Christophe Poirier with Joie Alvaro Kent

Tourtière made in the style of Lac St-Jean is different. It has cubes of different meats instead of ground meat, and sometimes incorporates wild meat from hunting season. The pie also contains cubed potatoes and is baked far longer in the oven, in a deep dish. But I always thought the traditional way of cooking it—we’re talking 6 to 8 hours in the oven—is, well… too long. I prefer to braise the meat for the filling first, then add it to the pastry shell.

Chef’s Tip: You can cook the tourtière the day before; let it cool for a few hours, then put it in the fridge overnight. Warm it up in the oven at 320°F for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Editor’s Note: This recipe is in several parts (spice mix, dough, and filling, which includes duck confit)—make sure you read the entire recipe before embarking on your meat pie adventure!

Rustic Meat Pie (Tourtière du Lac St-Jean) Recipe

Yield: 8 to 10 portions
Preparation time: 2 hours + 12 to 16 hours marinating
Cooking time: 4¼ hours + 2 hours cooling


Épices à Tourtière

  • 5 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4½ tsp ground cloves
  • 4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp ground ginger

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months; after that, the spices will start to lose their potency.

Pâté en Croûte Dough

Equipment: Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment 

  • 4¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1¾ cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 7 egg yolks 
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp kosher salt

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and cornstarch.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, begin mixing the butter on medium speed, then incorporate the egg yolks, followed by the water and salt. Add the flour mixture in two batches, mixing until just combined, taking care not to overwork the pastry.

Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Use as directed in your recipe.

Meat pie

  • 1 kg pork shoulder, diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 kg beef short ribs or shank, deboned and most of the fat removed, diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 150 g lard or unsmoked bacon, diced into thick lardons
  • 1 cup amber beer from Québec
  • 5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped 
  • 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 to 8 juniper berries, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 3 sprigs thyme, leaves only 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp  kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Épices à Tourtière (recipe above)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 kg Yukon Gold potatoes, 
  • peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 batch Pâte en Croûte (recipe above)
  • 3 legs duck confit, pulled and roughly chopped* 
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp homogenized milk 
  • lightly beaten for egg wash

*Tackle J-C’s full recipe for homemade confit or source it from your local butcher.

Tourtière du Lac St-Jean
Photo: Brit Gill

Make It

In a large bowl, mix the pork, beef, lard, beer, garlic, onions, juniper berries, thyme, bay leaves, salt and Épices à Tourtière. Cover and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours, and up to 16 hours.

Preheat your oven to 320°F, with the rack in the centre position.

Add the marinated meat mixture with all the liquid to a large ovenproof pot. Stir gently on medium-high heat until all the liquid is evaporated (about 15 minutes). In a separate pot on high heat, bring the chicken stock to a simmer. Sprinkle the flour on the meat mixture, then add the stock, stirring slowly. Cover tightly and braise in the oven for 1½ hours. Stir in the potatoes and cook for 30 minutes, until the meat and potatoes are fork-tender. Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Discard the bay leaves.

Meanwhile, on a lightly floured work surface, roll out two-thirds of the dough into a large rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Lay the dough in the bottom and up the sides of the casserole dish, letting the excess hang over the edges. Roll out the remaining dough to ¼ inch thick, in the shape of your casserole dish, and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F.

Add the duck confit to the meat mixture and mix well. Pour into the casserole dish. Cut off any excess dough from around the edges. Brush the edges lightly with egg wash and cover with the reserved dough. Form a cheminée by cutting a small hole in the centre of the top crust to let steam escape while baking. Pinch the edges of the crust to seal, and trim off any excess dough. Decorate the top of your tourtière as desired. Brush a thin layer of egg wash over top.

Place the tourtière on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. This gives the tourtière a crispy inside crust. Lower the oven temperature to 355°F and continue baking for 1½ hours. Remove from the oven and let stand for 1 hour before cutting and serving.

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Excerpted from Where the River Narrows by Jean-Christophe Poirier with Joie Alvaro Kent. Copyright © 2022 Jean-Christophe Poirier. Photography © 2022 Brit Gill. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.