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Tourtiere with Maple Syrup and Orange Zest

During my travels in Quebec, I was intrigued by how the Quebecois have found so many uses for maple syrup--on ham, in taffy, in cookies and marshmallows, and of course, in tourtieres (meat pies).

I am lucky to have had tourtiere-making on both sides of my family. This recipe is a distillation of my favorite tourtieres, along with a few other ingredients, like orange zest, that work well with the traditional spices (cloves and cinnamon).

Ingredients for pie crust:

1 1/3 cup all-purpuse white flour
5 tbsp butter + 1 tsp for buttering the pan
1/4 tsp salt
3 to 4 tablespoons water
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Ingredients for pie filling:

3/4 pound lean ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
2 cups beef stock (preferably low-sodium)
1/2 cup yukon gold potatoes, skin on, diced into 1/3 inch cubes
1/4 cup raisins
6 cloves, ground
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp maple syrup
few tbsps olive oil
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 egg (optional)

For the filling, sauté the cubed potatoes in olive oil on high heat until they start to brown (don't cook them all the way through). Remove potatoes and reserve. Deglaze the pan with the beef stock. Boil down for about 15 minutes. Add pork and beef. Add the optional egg if you want the filling to hold together a little better. Stir around so meat is all broken up. If liquid does not cover meat completely, add a little more stock. Add salt & pepper. Add cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and maple syrup. Cook on medium heat until meat is cooked through and liquid level falls under meat level. Filling should be moist without being soupy (if soupy, boil it down more on medium heat). Check spices; if you prefer a more spicy tourtiere, add more cloves. Remove from heat and keep the filling in a bowl.

For the crust, preheat oven to 375. Place flour in a mixing bowl. Toss in dice-sized cubes of cold butter. Wet with a few tablespoons of water. Add salt and lemon juice. Mix with fingers until dough forms balls the size of small beads. If dough forms little strings instead, that's fine too. Grab a little more than half of dough and make into a big ball. With a rolling pin, flatten out on a well-floured surface until about 1/8" thin. Shape the dough into a well-buttered pie pan, squeezing out any areas that feel too thick. Trim off extra dough. Pierce with a fork. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until ends just start to brown. When pie crust bottom is in oven, roll out the remainder of the dough into a top pie crust and leave under plastic wrap at room temperature.

Pie assembly: Preheat oven to 375. Mix potatoes, raisins, and orange zest into pie filling. Pour pie filling into pre-baked shell. Place top crust piece atop and seal it shut. If raw top crust won't stick to baked bottom crust, wrap raw top crust completely around it. Pierce with fork in a few places. If you're feeling naughty, smear a little maple syrup on the top of the crust. Brush with a little melted butter. Bake at 375 until top crust is golden brown. If crust puffs up too much while cooking, pierce it with a fork.

Makes one 9" tourtiere.

Serve with chow-chow or a fruit ketchup.

Tip: The whole pie, minus the final baking, can be made a day ahead of time. Just seal up the raw top crust and keep it in the fridge!

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©2014 Darrin DuFord