Tag Archives: Montreal

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

Over the years tourtière has become a New Year’s Eve tradition.  A nice break from turkey, a spiced meat pie on a chilly winter’s night is the ultimate comfort food.  I decided to change it up this year and include my new fave vegetable: fennel.  Fennel and pork are a popular Italian combination, that I thought my half Italian boyfriend would enjoy.  The licorice flavour pairs nicely with the pork, and adds to the festive seasoning of the filling.  Flaky, rich and hearty, this French Canadian Fennel Tourtière will keep you fed for days!

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

I have always been intimidated by crust, and I’ve tried many different recipes with mixed results. A few years ago I took a culinary course at George Brown College where I finally learned how to make the perfect crust.  This is a sure-fire recipe and the secret is to make sure your dough stays very cold.  What is great about this recipe is that the dough can be used almost immediately and doesn’t need to chill for an hour like most doughs.  I also read somewhere that using vodka instead of water makes for a crispier crust, and I swear by this trick now.

Originating from Canada, immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century introduced this dish to Quebec and since then, has become a French Canadian Christmas or New Year’s Eve tradition.  The filling varies depending on the region.  For instance, the tourtières of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area and Eastern Quebec are made with potatoes and cubed pieces of meat, while in Montreal the pies are made with ground pork only, spiced with cloves and cinnamon and served with maple syrup, ketchup, chutneys or preserves.  In St. Boniface, Manitoba, similar herbs are used as well as celery salt, nutmeg and dry mustard and the pies are served with mustards and relishes, while an Acadian tourtière is made with pork and may also contain beef, chicken or hare.

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

My tourtière is influenced by both the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Montreal tourtières.  I like using ground pork and beef instead of cubes, and the mashed potatoes help to bind the filling (and I also love mashed potato).  Spicing the meat is essential for that festive aroma, and I like my meat pie more on the savory side so I prefer a combination of marjoram, thyme, sage, cloves and now, fennel.  Finally, I serve my tourtière with some homemade ketchup, gerkins or beet chutney to balance out the richness.  I’d love to try serving with some relishes and mustards, I think a maple mustard or a cranberry relish would be really tasty.

With this recipe you can either make two medium thick pies, or one thick pie.  I usually make one large pie, however the tourtière tradition is to make a whole lot to give away during the holidays.  So if you need a last minute gift, making the second meat pie is always an option!  Either way, your home will be filled with the wonderful aroma of fennel, cloves and sage.

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours


For the filling:

  • 5 peeled Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup finely chopped fennel including stems
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 Tbsp water

For the crust:

  • 750 grams pastry flour
  • 500 grams shortening chilled
  • 250 ml chilled vodka
  • 15 grams salt


  1. Boil salted water in a large pot and add potatoes. Cook until soft, then push through a potato ricer*.

  2. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the fennel and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Crumble the ground pork and beef into the pan and cook until the meat is no longer pink.
  4. Add fennel seeds, marjoram, thyme, sage, cloves and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the wine and cover the pan. Lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Combine flour and shortening in large bowl and cut with pastry cutter until reduced to irregular pea sized crumbs.
  7. Dissolve salt in vodka and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix just enough to combine without overmixing.
  8. Transfer dough to floured surface and shape into four discs (or just two if making only one pie). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge until ready for use*.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Grease either 2 x 9-inch pie pans or 1 x 11-inch pie pan.
  10. Once the filling has finished simmering, stir in the mashed potatoes and parsley. Set aside to cool.
  11. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface into four (or two) thin rounds.
  12. Fill each pie chell with 1/2 of the cooled meat mixture and top with the remaining pastry, sealing and fluting the edges with your fingers to form a ruffled border.
  13. Cut small steam vents in the tops of the pies using the tip of a sharp knife and brush the pies with the egg yolk glaze
  14. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 20 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.

Recipe Notes

*a ricer is a utensil that pushes the potato through small holes, resulting in fluffly mashed potatoes. A potato masher can be used as well but can result in over mashing, making the potato too gluey. *if making only one pie, use the extra dough to make a few mini meat pies or to add additional crust decor *always keep your dough cold, this will "firm-up" the shortening which in turn makes the dough easier to handle

Do you have a New Year’s Eve tradition?  What would you add to your French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere filling?

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

Restaurant Review: Laurier Gordon Ramsay

When I heard Gordon Ramsay was opening up a restaurant in Montreal, I immediately added  Gordon Ramsay’s first Canadian venture to my ever growing list of “Must Eats When In Montreal”.  Smoked meat, bagels, poutine AND Gordon Ramsay in one city?  Too amazing for words!  So when I had the opportunity to hit up Montreal for 24 hours, the first place I went to was Laurier Gordon Ramsay.

Nestled amongst the Christmas lights of Laurier Avenue West, this former rotisserie family restaurant in Outremont was the perfect place to cozy up in on a cold December night.  I’ve dined at Ramsay’s Maze restaurant in Prague and his At The London in NYC, but as I stepped inside Laurier I admired the completely different atmosphere.  Unlike the elegant lounge of Maze or the five star world of At The London, walking into Laurier felt as though one was walking into a friend’s home.  From the elegant black and white exterior to the warm wooden paneled dining room and solid wood tables, Ramsay kept it simple, and catered to the local neighbourhood (rule #1 from Kitchen Nightmares).

Cute Bread & Butter, Laurier Gordon Ramsay, Montreal, Canada

Little touches such as the jar of homemade pickles on each table and the metal bucket of fresh roles and logo branded butter are unique but not pretentious.While an extensive wine list makes me realize I’ll be spending more on wine then I will on my meal, with such reasonable prices (an average main is about $15 CAN) I’m enticed to splurge a bit more.  Everything on the menu looks deliciously heart warming, and I finally settle on a classic French onion soup, which should be a testament of the menu’s focus on local comfort food.

French Onion Soup, Laurier Gordon Ramsay, Montreal, Canada

The French onion soup is perfection from the crusty layer of Gruyere cheese to the well seasoned beef broth and soft carmelized onions soaking the fresh croutons below, there is comfort in every bite.

The main course was even harder to select: tourtiere? Beer battered fish ‘n’ chips?  Chicken pot pie? Wood planked salmon?  Oh if only there was more time!  However, the specialty of Laurier is their rotisserie which features grain fed, naturally raised Quebec chickens (Kitchen Nightmares rule#2: use local produce!), and so I finally decided that this is the optimal choice.

Rotisserie Chicken, Laurier Gordon Ramsay, Montreal, Canada

Now it may seem strange to compare Swiss Chalet with Gordon Ramsay, but just imagine if Swiss Chalet was actually made with real chicken.  Imagine if you had this fresh, cooked to perfection chicken whose juices are held in by thin, crispy, well seasoned skin, complete with crunchy coleslaw and hand cut fries alongside silky gravy for dipping.  I will now forever love Gordon Ramsay because he has made me the most divine Swiss Chalet dinner, ever.

Our group ate, drank and relaxed for about 3 hours, and not once did we feel rushed by the waiters to leave, something that I really appreciated.

With reasonable prices, local produce and a warm, inviting atmosphere, Laurier confirms one thing: Ramsay abides by his own rules, meaning no matter which restaurant of his I dine in, the experience will always be amazing.


The jazz festival in Montreal is one of my favourite ways to spend a summer weekend.  I love how the festival takes over the city.  All the main streets close down so you can walk around with a beer in your hand and listen to jazz, funk and soul all night long.  Throw in some poutine and smoked meat and voila!  Best.  Ever.