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Memere Rousseau's Tourtiere (Meat Pie)

Yankee Plus Dec 2015


by in Jan 2010
Memere Rousseau’s Tourtiere (Meat Pie)
157 votes, 3.54 avg. rating (70% score)
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Total Time: 3

This traditional recipe for Tourtiere -- meat pie -- has a crust so light that it melts in your mouth and can be eaten piping hot from the oven or cold from the refrigerator.

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  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves (or more to taste)
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • Penny's Piecrust
  • 1 tablespoon milk


In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine pork, onion, salt, and water. Simmer gently, stirring often, until all liquid evaporates, about 4 hours. Stir in spices. Add potatoes and beat well to combine thoroughly. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a pie plate with one crust. Spoon in pork/potato mixture. Add top crust and flute the edges. Brush the top with milk and prick with a fork. Bake 30 minutes.

Penny's Piecrust


  • 4 cups flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-3/4 cups shortening
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ice water


In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut shortening in, until pieces are about the size of a pea. Add egg, vinegar, and ice water. Work mixture into a soft, cohesive dough ball. Divide in half, and put one half aside for another pie (or freeze). Cut other dough mass in half. On a work surface dusted with flour, roll out bottom and top crusts. Yield: 2 two-crust pies
Updated Thursday, December 5th, 2013

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53 Responses to Memere Rousseau’s Tourtiere (Meat Pie)

  1. Katherine Lewis December 10, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    I carry on the tradition of cooking, every year i have to make them to serve on Christmas Eve., as did my mother and her mother (Grandma), she was French-Candian. Our recipe varied a little, as we did not use potatoes in our recipe, and we used more cinnamin, i did not add cloves, but am thinking i will try this next year. It is so yummy, and is such a nice gift to give to anyone! i let them cool with foil on top, then freeze over night, put into gallon zip lock bag, and put a gift sticker on it, listing the date and my name with love! :} I personally make up 11-12 pies each year, and give as a gift!

  2. Jo-Ann Langlois December 11, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    My sisters and I and all of my cousins have been using my memere’s recipe, which uses ground beef and pork, but we use Allspice, not cinnamon and we also put mashed potatoes in ours.

    • Elizabeth O'Malley September 7, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      I am so delighted to see someone use the name “memere”. That’s what we called my grandmother but I didn’t know anyone else did.

      I have been looking for this recipe for years. Can’t wait to try it.


      • Susan Richard December 18, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

        Memere is what I called my grandmother.. My Mom was a Memere now I carry on that wonderful name with my grandchildren. i carry on the meat pie tradition in my family for my children and siblings. We never put cloves or other spices other than Bells Seasoning and summer savory along with salt and pepper to taste. Ground pork with mashed potatoes to bind it is our family recipe served with dill pickles. It’s not Christmas morning without a piece of meat pie!

        • Sandi December 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

          wow! you are the first person I have seen say you used Bell Seasoning, that is what my family uses. I was take back by all the recipes i found using all the other spices. We eat our meat pie with home made cranberry sauce.

    • Sharon December 20, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

      Jo-Ann i do mine exactly the way you do. I was 15 when i learned from my memere, 48 yrs of making them and have not changed a thing.

    • Linda February 2, 2015 at 8:51 am #

      I also use Allspice, Clove and potatoes (No cinnamon) The one time I used cinnamon years ago my family was not happy. Every year now when I start making my Pork Pies they remind me NO CINNAMON. The recipe I use is also my Memere’s.

  3. Christine December 23, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    This is pretty spot on the way I learned the recipe from my mom and she learned it from her mom. We always have this for breakfast Thanksgiving morning and Christmas morning. Hope my kids make it some day as well!

  4. Celeste Marie Matthews December 23, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    My memere and my mom, made these without potatoes and only pork. I have continued the tradition but not all years. I even made them when we lived in Australia; in high summer heat! They are part of what makes Christmas. As I am now the memere of the family (no one else has grandkids yet) it is up to me to preserve the family history. Choice of sides are sweet gherkin mini pickles, mustard, cranberry sauce and piccalli( a homemade green tomatoes relish that I make). Bon appetit! and Joyuex Noel!

    • Maurice R. Breton December 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

      Celeste Marie would love to have your Picalli recipe, My mother use to make one many years ago whichI haven’t been able to duplicate, her was made with green tomatoes, onions and spices. If you don’t mind sharing that would be great. Thanks

      • Pierre D. October 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

        Maurice, here is the recipe my mom gave me for the green tomato relish, which we also have with our Meat Pie each year, and if we are lucky Picked or Sweet Beets.

        • 25 medium green tomatoes, chopped
        • 6 medium onions, chopped
        • 8 Medium Green Peppers
        • 3 Stocks of Celery
        • kosher salt
        • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar
        • 2 1/8 cups granulated sugar
        • 5 tablespoons mixed pickling spices, tied in cheesecloth

        1. In a large bowl, alternate layers of tomatoes, peppers and onions, sprinkling each layer with salt.
        2. Let stand for at least 8 hours, better overnight.
        3. Rinse with water; drain well.
        4. In a large saucepan or stock pot, Combine vegetables with vinegar, sugar and spice bag.
        5. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about 30 to 45 minutes.
        6. Stir frequently until slightly thickened.
        7. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal.

  5. Suzanne Martineau January 1, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

    My grandmother,mother and now I am the maker of our Christmas tourtiere for my children and grandchildren. We are from Quebec and our recipe is made with lean pork and veal, no cinnamon only cloves, onions,celery tops, salt, bay leaf, herb de provence, rosemary,pepper, mushrooms and mushroom soup. I glaze the crust with whipped egg. It is to die for and a much anticipated tradition. Yum.

  6. Gail Childs January 2, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    My Memere & mom made Tourtiere a traditional pie but varied from this recipe. Mom used hamburg, Memere used a combination of hamburg & pork but I think more times with ground deer meat. Also used nutmeg. No water, sauted the meat & onions & spices adding to the mashed potatoes. Always loved it & served with cole slaw.

  7. Diana Ethier January 2, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    I make mine using my husbands aunts recipe which calls for Bell’s Seasoning, Mashed Rutabaga, and walnuts as well as the mashed potatoes, onions and a blend of beef, pork and veal. He likes to eat it with dill pickles and I like it with cranberry sauce. I also carry on my families tradition by making black-eyed peas and greens to complete the meal.

  8. Jill January 2, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

    I have tried all kinds of French meat pie recipes over the years, but this is the best! Very light with the potatoes mixed in. I love the taste of cloves better than the Bell’s seasoning. And the crust is so flaky and tender. Have made it each year since Yankee ran it. Always comes out great.

  9. MARY February 25, 2014 at 2:03 pm #


  10. Pauline Grawey May 5, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Hi, we used to have it on New Years as we are French Canadian.I can’t find my Mother”s recipe right now. Do you really simmer the pork 4 hrs? As an aside we called our Grandparents Meme and Pepe With fond memories…..

    • Brenda Darroch May 6, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      Hi Pauline,
      It does take about four hours for the liquid to evaporate. When you find your mother’s recipes, we’d love to hear how it differs from this one.

      • Cheryl Pitoniak October 6, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

        Just curious, what is the purpose of simmering the ground pork in water for 4 hours? Does this improve the taste/texture?? Thanks

      • Joe May 11, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

        Use less water! Doesn’t need to boil for 4 hours. Maybe just cover meat by about 1/4 inch and cook slowly for total of 1.5 hours. I’ve seen recipes that only call for 1/2 cup of water.

  11. Aimee Seavey October 7, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    Hi Cheryl. The long simmering time is what makes the meat exceptionally tender. It takes awhile, but we think it’s worth it!

    • Cheryl Pitoniak October 12, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

      Thank you, Amy. I am definitely going to try this recipe this coming holiday season!

  12. Claire Martin October 7, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    I was thrilled to see this receipe. My mother-in-law was French from the Maine area, Sanford, Maine. She always made Meat Pie for Christmas Eve and after the midnight Mass we would all go to her house (now this would be about 1:00am) to have the traditional meat pie dish. This had made a tradition in her family and when I began dating my husband I joined in (as the lonely Irish person). This was a very special evening of the year. The whole family gathered together until we all began to have our children, then it got a little harder. But she still made the pies and we had the on Christmas afternoon when we visited her home.

    I fear that this tradition is dying out, but I still pray that it doesn’t. It was a special time of year for many reasons!

  13. Bernice Pierce October 15, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    My memere and mere made these when I grew up in Lewiston Maine. I am now 73 and I make them and give them for gifts at Christmas..very authentic recipe

  14. wendy lapierre October 16, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    I don’t use mashed potatoes.i use cubed potatoes small cubes in the meat simmering..for last 15 mins…love it that way…

  15. Danielle October 22, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    Stumbled upon this recipe while looking for measurement ratios for pork/potato. This is very similar to how I learned to make pie from my mother who my memere passed it down to. We use allspice instead of cinnamon and clove.

  16. Peter November 15, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    My family has been making this ever since i’ve been born over 28 years ago and I figured I would see how other families make it. Our is very similiar with a couple differences. My father and I make them as below:

    2lb’s ground beef
    1lb ground pork
    1 onion chopped

    Onion goes in first, shortly after is all the meat which is then browned and water is used to help loosen up the mixture. The spices are clove, allspice, cinnamon and sage. Of course salt and pepper, all done to taste. Depending on the year, we’ll use mashed potatoes or instant to make it thicken up. This year we used mashed and I think it’s my favorite so far. What a tradition!

  17. Carol Jeanne Marcoux November 18, 2014 at 4:37 am #

    We grew up with mother making the Tourtiere pies but with dad, the Frenchman, overseeing and tasting. You see mother was Irish-German, but her family too came from Canada.
    Our pies, which my sister and I make every year for Christmas Eve, are all finely ground pork, onion, cinnamon, cloves and maybe some allspice, salt and pepper. Enough water to cover meat and simmer till enough water has evaporated then we add fresh bread crumbs to bind all together. Our families love this recipe and I (we) have never tried anything different. Happy holidays and happy baking to you all.

  18. Roberta November 19, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    Love this recipe. It is almost exactly the way my mom made her pies. She used just ground pork and saltines to bind it together…onions-celery-salt & pepper-herbes de province. I am 80 yrs. young and even though I am alone I make them every Thanksgiving and Christmas for my siblings and nieces. I hope some of them will carry on this tradition. Ma Mere made the best…

  19. Linda Proulx December 16, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    I learned from my husbands Memere, Aurore Proulx, from 3 Rivers Canada, I still make them for the holidays, I know they used to have them at New Years eve. But I make a whole bunch at once , freeze them and they are great to pull out and heat up during the busy holiday season. Not to mention that my two adult children come begging for them this time of year. And yes I always make sure we have at least one for the new year.

  20. Carol Lapierre December 18, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    I make my mother in law recipe. She was Irish but married French Canadian She used hamburger and pork and mash potatoes cloves,allspice. She was a wonderful cook. Crusty was yummy. I make it every Christmas eve. My kids all grown now still love it. I make for all of them and grand kids too.

  21. Jeannette Bruno December 19, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    I have enjoyed reading through all the different variations of Tourtiere recipes. I am French Canadien. Parents and 2 sets of grandparents all from Canada. .Our family recipe is much like many I saw. Ground pork and hamburg 2/1 depending on number of pies. Diced onion, salt, pepper, cinnamon and clove to individual taste
    .a little water and cook down until liquid is absorbed. We do not use potato as we prefer a crumbly texture. I am now the eldest of our generation and continue to make this recipe each year at Christmas. Have passed it down to siblings, children and now grandchildren. I am the memere of the group. Tradition is important to us so we continue to share special recipes with family. Keeps us close
    thank you

  22. Whitey December 19, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    As part of a Scottish family in a French-Canadian, New England town. Tourtier was primarily a treat while visiting friends. As with many comfort foods the smell is the strongest part of the memory. I find that the recipes with celery/ celery tops bring the memory out the strongest. The meat was pork/venison if the hunt had been successful that year and pork/hamburg if it had not. The long simmering reduction is essential to bring out the flavor. And I vote with potato free and the crumbly texture, to me this is Tourtiere, otherwise is just another meat pie.

  23. Pam December 19, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

    My Great Aunt made this meat pie for us every Christmas Eve and served it the best gravy I have ever tasted. Don’t know how or what she used to make the gravy. My mom asked her for the recipe but she said it was a secret. She passed away never giving the recipe to anyone. My mom experimented and figured it out by trial and error. I now have the recipe and make it for my own family. We all love it!

    • Stacey T. December 29, 2014 at 11:45 am #

      Pam, would you be willing to share the gravy recipe? :)

  24. Paul Descoteaux December 20, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Well it’s December 20th getting ready to make our meat pies and poutsins for Christmas Eve. Memere is now 94 years old and no longer able to prepare these traditional foods from Grandmere Québec Canada.

    As hard as we try we cannot cook as good as Memere.

  25. Nathalie Plante Tsantakis December 20, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Making my tourtiere as I type this. Such wonderful memories of my childhood Christmases spent in Stornoway and Nantes QC. Joyeux Noel!

  26. Lisa December 20, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Also, growing up in a french canadian family in Waterville Maine, we had tourtière pie Christmas Eve as well as Christmas morning. This recipe is very close to my family’s recipe. Had to learn to make tourtière pie once we moved in NC 17 yrs ago. Over the years we have introduced this pie to native North Carolinians. Now they request them around the holidays.

    • Brenda Cioce December 28, 2014 at 9:38 am #


      Would you mind sharing your recipe as my Mother also grew up in Waterville and she states that they never used cinnamon so I have not found the exact recipe? Yours may be closer to what she had growing up. Her mother passed away and I never asked for the recipe. She was a Mathieu.

  27. Dan Taylor December 21, 2014 at 5:43 am #

    I’ve made this recipe several times always with good results. I don’t preheat my oven during the entire four hour simmer though.

    Doubles easily. I use just a pinch of cloves if at all.

  28. Jeanne Fournier December 24, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    My Mama always made and served Tourtière after midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
    I tried this receipe and it is just Wonderful. I used a bit more cloves as I enjoy that taste.
    I served it as a pate, with whole cranberry sauce and sweet pickles and, of course,
    a French Baguette. Thank You Memere Rousseau. C’est Bon. Jeanne

  29. Donna J. December 24, 2014 at 6:59 am #

    Confused….but then again that is how I woke up this morning. LOL.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees, but cook ingredients in a saucepan on medium-low for 4 hours?

    I would assume that you mean cook the ingredients first, for about 4 hours, put into pie shell, and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes? Just written out of order?

  30. Aimee Seavey December 24, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    Hi Donna. While it’s customary to begin most recipes with pre-heating the oven, you’re right that in this case (with 4 hours of simmering before the baking), it makes sense to wait before turning it on! We’ll update the recipe to be more clear. Thanks and happy holidays!

  31. Kathy December 24, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    I HAVE to ask, Penny was your Raymond a brother to F Gilbert Despres also of Nashua??? I am his Grandaughter!!

  32. Fran Stevenson December 26, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    My Aunt,s maiden name was Rousseau, She had this recipe and our family, ate for New Years for years. After she passed on I have tried to get this recipe, to no avail. My mom made it too, but when I asked her to try to remember it, she could only remember the meat ingredient, and some spices… Now by sheer accident, I have found it. They have all passed on, but I intend to make Memere”s original recipe. Thank You, & Blessings to all for the New Year & the years to come.

  33. Stacey T. December 29, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    This Irish girl married into a French-Canadian family — but one that doesn’t make tourtiere! I was quite disappointed so I have finally taken matters into my own hands. I made this over the weekend and it was delicious. I’m curious about those who use Bell’s Seasoning, I might try that next time and compare.

    My pie was exceptionally thick. I packed the mashed potatoes pretty tightly. Initially I thought I had enough mixture for two pies, but in hindsight I do like a nice, thick piece.

    I love reading all the comments with the history and tradition.

  34. Suzanne B. December 31, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    I am so very confused after reading all these variations. My mother gave me my Memere’s recipe but has since passed away. It calls for beef, pork, cinnamon, Bell’s, potatoes. I called my cousin and she said our Memere only used allspice. My mother never made them & I did once 20 years ago! I think I used my mom’s & it was delicious. I’m trying to rekindle my Memere’s New Year’s Day menu of tortiere, meatball sandwiches, sheet pound cake with warm sucre creme. Can’t decide now! Anyone have a sheet pound cake recipe?

  35. Paul H.Kerouac February 5, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    This is the way you can get a taste of 1950’s Christmas in New England,only thing missing is some of Mr Rochette’s beans my family is also from Nashua/Lowell by way of France and Canada (Cup de Medliene)Memere Boisvert would’ve loved this recipe. Anyone know how to make Mr Rochette’s High Hat beans?

  36. Raymond Jean Beauregard March 18, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

    I took my wife out to Chez Vachon in Manchester, NH for their tortiere today. Reminded me of my mother’s
    Pork pie. Good Canadian cooking. Her recipe was half pork and half veal with Allspice.

  37. daisy May 20, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    Help! Making this for the first time ever, have been told to use Bell’s Seasoning to make it “right” but HOW MUCH? One or Two teaspoons? No cinnamon either. Am making it for my 97 year old friend whose memere used to make it and she yearns for it! thanks

  38. Dottie August 23, 2015 at 1:43 am #

    Loved reading all these post. I live in South GA. But was born in Maine my Meme and Pepe every Christmas Eve served several different meat pies. Brings back lovely memories. I remember the table being covered with pies and goodies. And little bowls of nuts an ribbon candy set around. I so want to one more time have a traditional New England Christmas Eve.

  39. Pat C. October 12, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

    My Memere Rousselle’s recipe is a little different. No potatoes and no precooking. We just mix the pork, onions, water and spices and put it into the pie crust to bake @ 350 for one hour.
    I’ve been doing this for 65 years. These days, I have to bake up to 25. All my families, and friends, and neighbors expect one at Christmas
    We must have that for after Midnight Mass and Christmas breakfast. (And any old time someone needs a bite to eat.)

    I’ve read that there are as many recipes for Tourtiere as there are cooks in Quebec baking them.


  1. Tourtière for New Years Eve in Quebec | Eating The World - December 31, 2014

    […] 1600s, and usually consists of ground pork in a pastry crust. The dish has since spread south into New England and into Louisiana with the Acadian communities, where the pie has been adapted over time to suit […]

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