Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Snacking State-by-State: New Hampshire II - Meat pie, minus the whole Demon Barber thing

Most New Hampshirites trace their background to Ireland, Portugal, Italy and France.  Given its close proximity to Québec, it stands to reason that French-Canadian cuisine would be found easily in New Hampshire (and all of northern New England).  And yes, New Hampshire does have a significant French-Canadian population.  According to the New Hampshire Historical Society, French-Canadians flooded into New Hampshire as other New Hampshirites headed west for other opportunities.  Up to 50,000 French-Canadians lived in New Hamsphire by 1890 [NHHS 2011].  Today most French-Canadian-Americans in New Hampshire live in Manchester and Nashua, and in the northern areas of the state (if Wikipedia can be believed).

Official Name: State of New Hampshire
State Nicknames: The Granite State
Admission to the US:  June 21, 1788 (#9)
Capital: Concord (3rd largest)
Other Important Cities: Manchester (largest), Nashua (2nd largest), Derry (4th largest)
 Northeast, New England; New England (US Census)
RAFT NationsMaple Syrup
Bordered by: Maine (east); Atlantic Ocean (southeast); Massachusetts (south); Vermont (west); Québec (Canada) (north)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: white-tailed deer (animal); brook trout (freshwater game fish); striped bass (saltwater game fish)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: Irish and French-Canadian/Québecois foods; maple syrup, apples, cranberries; typical New England foods

Originally I had thought to tackle that Québecois classic, poutine, the famous combination of French fries and cheese curds covered in gravy.  But I didn't find much on poutine in New Hampshire.  Much easier to find were recipes for the very hearty French-Canadian meat pie known as tourtière.  The tourtière is a particular treat around the Christmas season, and is specifically eaten on Christmas Eve.  Yankee Magazine printed a charming story about Raymond "Moose" Despres and his mother's and grandmother's meat pies [Clark 2010] - the same type made by the mother and grandmother of the girl he fell for.  That girl, Penny (Rousseau) Despres, shared her grandmother's tourtière recipe with

Yankee Magazine, and I attempt it below.

The Recipe: Memère Rousseau's Tourtière

For this tourtière you will need the following:

* pork (a few pounds of it, ground.  I got some at the Fresh Market for about $4 per pound)
* potatoes (you will need a few cups, mashed)
* water (had it)
* salt (again, had it)
* onion (I actually ran out of onions, so I had to use shallots instead.  At least they're popular in French cooking)
* 2 pie crusts (yes, again I was lazy. Sue me.  But one thing to remember: Trader Joe's makes one hell of a pie crust, and it doesn't even have HFCS or hydrogenated anythings in it.  Just costs $4)
* cloves (you will grind them)
* cinnamon (also ground)
* I forgot to put it in the photo, but you also need a little milk to brush over top the pie crust.

Put the pork, the onions/shallots, water and salt in a large pot and cook on a low flame for several hours.  Yes, several hours, and constantly check on it, too.  The above recipe says you need to let it cook for four hours.

I stopped at about 2 1/2, which was the bare minimum cooking time that I saw in any tourtière recipe in my research.

Meanwhile, mash up those potatoes.

Grind your spices.

And prepare your pie crusts.  I used a 9 1/2" pie plate.  Use at least a 9" one.

Mix the spices in with the pork mixture before you add it to the pie shell.

And then add the mashed potatoes.

Mix it all together.

And put it into the pie shell.

Cover with the other pie crust, crimp it, score it and maybe even make some sort of pretty design if you feel like it.  I was kind of impressed with this ery French Canadian fleur-de-lis myself.  I'm not the artistic type.  I'd be lucky if I made a blob correctly.

Lightly brush milk over top of the top crust.

Bake for about 400°F for 30 minutes.

This is a hearty pie, which belies the tender crust covering it (guess I'll be lazy next time and go with Trader Joe's again).  As for the meat: the thing that really does it for me is the ground clove and cinnamon spice blend.  It's unexpected, and without it this would be a pretty dull pie.  With it, it's quite a nice treat.  And I will have to get a lot of exercise in after eating this pie.

- - - - -

We're heading down Interstate 95 next, and getting stuck on the turnpike for a while.  It's time to find out what's cookin' in Jersey.


Clark, Edie.  "French Canadian meat pies are a family legacy (Best Cook: Meat Pie)".  Yankee Magazine, January/February 2010.

Dojny, Brooke.  The New England Cookbook.  Harvard Common Press: Boston, 1999.

Hensperger, Beth, and Julie Kaufmann. Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. Harvard Common Press: Boston, 2005.

New Hampshire Historical Society.  "French Canadian Immigrants in New Hampshire" (PDF file "New Hampshire's French-Canadian Americans" linked to the NHHS "Education|Immigration Index".

New Hampshire Maple Producers Association (NHMPA).  "Home page".  Date unknown.  Copyright NH Maple Producers 2001-2011.

Yankee Magazine.  "Memère Rousseau's Tourtière (Meat Pie)".  January 2010.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "New Hampshire" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "New Hampshire".