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Recipe of the week: seafood tourtière

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Written by:
Recipe of the week: seafood tourtière

A Québécois savoury pie, a tourtière, is typically made with spiced ground pork and potato and is often served on Christmas Eve.

This version includes a filling of five different types of seafood, along with mushrooms and potatoes, and honours the long Yankee tradition of seafood pies. Both the filling and the crust can be made in advance, so when you’re ready to eat, all that’s left to do is assemble and bake the pie. Like the recipe that inspired it, this is the perfect dinner for an icy winter night. Serve fat wedges of it with a green salad alongside.

Makes one 7-inch pie; serves six to eight as a main course

110g unsalted butter
120g plain flour, plus more for dusting
240ml whole milk
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2tbs canola or rapeseed oil
225g cremini or baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
120ml dry white wine
1 medium russet potato
225g medium raw prawns, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
225g shelled cooked lobster meat
225g skinless cod, coarsely chopped
225g fresh scallops, feet removed and coarsely chopped
Pinch of saffron
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
450g shelled cooked crabmeat
1½tbs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2tbs tarragon, finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1 quantity Pâte Brisée (see below)
1 egg

Pâte brisée
The key to a flaky, flavourful pie is using a generous amount of butter and not overworking the dough; you should stop the mixer when the mixture is still quite crumbly.

720g plain flour
3tsp sea salt
1tbsp sugar
440g plus 2tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
120ml-240ml iced water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and mix until it is crumbly and resembles wet sand. Gradually drizzle in half the water, then stop the mixer. Gently squeeze it a small handful of the mixture; if it forms a ball, you have added enough liquid. If not, gradually add more ice water until it holds together in a ball when squeezed.

Transfer the pâte brisée to a sheet of clingfilm (it may be crumbly, which is OK) and use the cling film to form the dough into a ball. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

To make the pie
Preheat the oven to 200°C. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until the flour is golden brown, about five minutes. Pour in the milk and add the nutmeg. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking, until the béchamel thickens, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large, high-sided sauté pan, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the onion is soft, about seven minutes. Add the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about five minutes.

Peel the potato and grate it on the large holes of a box grater. Add the potato to the pan with the mushrooms and stir to combine, then mix in the prawns, lobster, cod and scallops. Cook, stirring gently, until the prawns are bright pink and the cod is beginning to flake, about five minutes. Add the saffron and stir to incorporate, then season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the crabmeat, béchamel, parsley, tarragon, lemon zest and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Let the mixture cool completely.

On a floured work surface, divide the pâte brisée dough into two pieces; one piece should be larger, about two-thirds of the dough. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the larger piece of dough into a 12-inch circle. Carefully transfer to a 7-inch springform pan, gently pressing it in so the pan is lined with dough on the bottom and sides, with some overhang. Spoon the cooled seafood mixture into the pan and gently tamp it down. Roll the second piece of dough into an 8-inch circle and top the pie, crimping the edges to seal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and two tablespoons of water. Brush the top crust with the egg wash and cut a few slits in the crust to allow steam to escape. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 175°C and bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 30 minutes more.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes; it will contract as it cools, making it easier to remove from the pan. Carefully remove the springform pan ring and let the pie cool for 10 minutes more. The tourtière should be served warm, not hot. Cut into wedges and serve with a green salad.

Recipe taken from Home Grown – Cooking from my New England Roots by Matt Jennings, published by Artisan Books. Photography by Huge Galdones

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