Monday, December 13, 2004
Savory pyes or tourtes are rib-sticking good on cold winter days. They can either be eaten warm from the oven or are even better reheated the next day or eaten cold as snack food.
Although French people, for the most part, did not eat potatoes during most of the 18thC, considering them to be food for pigs or the English, "the generally accepted story is that a French army officer named, Antoine-Auguste Parmentier, an Economist, was imprisoned in Hamburg during the Seven Year’s War (1756-63), and got used to eating potatoes. Returning to France, he persuaded King Louis XVI to eat them, and his wife, Marie Antoinette, to wear potato flowers on her dress. Potatoes then became so fashionable (c.1787) that even now French dishes containing potatoes are called Parmentier." Thomas Jefferson brought home recipes from his diplomatic sojourn in Paris for potatoes to be served in the "French manner," generally believed to be French fries. Soon, a national dish of Quebec was known as Tourtiere, and is basically meat and potatoes baked in a crust.
Pâte Brisée or enough short pastry dough for two crusts
Parboiled sliced potatoes
Either shredded,precooked meat or raw ground beef [turkey, chicken, venison or veal]
2 slices bacon [turkey], diced or minced
Oil or fat
Roll out pye dough and place half in deep pye dish. Reserve other half under cover. Add a bit of oil to spider [cast iron skillet on three legs with a long handle] and fry onions, celery and garlic until golden along with browning ground beef and bacon, or add cooked, shredded beef. Season with 1/2 teas rubbed sage and 1/2 teas ground allspice and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and cool slightly; then pour onto bottom of pye crust. Cover with a layer of precooked, sliced potatoes.
Take oil or fat and make a roux with flour in your spider to take advantage of the drippings and flavor. Add milk to make a béchamel or white sauce. Season with 1/2 teas nutmeg and salt and white pepper to taste. Pour over potatoes in pye shell. Cover with top crust, seal edges and brush with milk. Cut a vent hole for steam in the middle of the pie and bake in a hot oven until done [450ºF for 15 minutes and 350ºF for 30 minutes more].