Some readers may remember the tourtière du lac from M. Wells Steakhouse, a debauchery of game meat encased in pie crust that fits quite well with my somewhat idealized conception of Eastern European cuisine — the one wherein everyone hunts for their own food, and then spends their days making excessive yet elaborate recipes overflowing with meat, root vegetables, rich sauces, and pie crust.
As much as I loved the idea, I was a little disappointed that the various meats in M. Wells’ version were hard to distinguish from one another and suggested offering fewer meats, with variations on texture instead. Putting my money where my mouth is, I started working on my own venison-centric version.
The result has departed slightly from the Québécois specialty, although even the latter comes in many variations. I am using both braised venison and some of the venison and beet sausages I prepared in my last post, and the potatoes are complemented with an assortment of other root vegetables. This is the kind of dish that makes it worth spending a day sitting in a treestand in the rain, waiting for a deer to show up — invariably at the last minute before sunset when even your waterproof gear is getting soaking wet. If you find yourself with large amounts of deer stew meat, I highly recommend you give this tourtière a try!
Yields 1 pie
24 oz venison bones
20 oz venison leg meat
black pepper, ground
1 oz olive oil
8 oz peeled onions, large dice
4 oz peeled carrots, large dice
2 garlic cloves, small dice
1 bay leaf
9 oz red wine
29 oz water
- Roast the venison bones in a 500 F oven for 30 minutes, then reserve.
- Cut the venison meat into 1″ to 1.5″ cubes, and season with salt and pepper. In a pot over high heat, sauté in olive oil until brown on all sides.
- Add the onions, carrots, and garlic cloves, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the bay leaf, cloves, and red wine. Bring to a boil, and simmer for another couple minutes.
- Add the bones and water, and bring back to a boil. Cover with a lid, and cook in a 250 F oven for about 3 hours, until the meat is very tender. Let cool.
Yields 1 pie
8.8 oz flour
1 tsp (7 g) salt
1 egg yolk
4 oz butter, diced and at room temperature
2.5 oz water
- Sift the flour into a bowl, and make a well in the center. Put the salt, egg yolk, and butter in the well, and combine using your fingertips, starting from the center outward.
- Add the water, and mix until smooth.
- Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.
Yields 1 pie
4 venison and beet sausages (about 10 oz)
0.5 oz canola oil
4 oz peeled potatoes, medium dice
3 oz peeled parsnip, medium dice
3 oz peeled celery root, medium dice
1 oz heavy cream
1 oz butter
1 egg yolk
0.5 oz water
- In a frying pan over medium-low heat, sauté the sausages in half of the oil until brown on all sides, then reserve.
- In the same pan over medium heat, brown the potatoes, parsnip, and celery root in the rest of the oil, and reserve.
- Pour the braised venison into a chinois to separate the meat and vegetables from the stock. Reserve the meat in a plastic container, and pour in just enough stock to cover it.
- In a blender, process the stock with 4.5 oz of the vegetables from the braised venison (discard the rest of these vegetables). Transfer to a saucepan, and reduce over medium-high heat to about 6 oz. Add the heavy cream and butter, and remove from the heat.
- Cut the sausages into large chunks. Transfer to a bowl, and combine with the root vegetable dice, braised venison meat, and reduced sauce. Transfer the mixture to a 9″ pie dish.
- Roll the pâte brisée to an 11″ diameter disc, and apply on top of the pie dish. Dig a “chimney” in the center with the tip of a knife. Mix the egg yolk and water to make egg wash, and brush over the crust. Cook in a 350 F oven for 45-50 min, until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes, and serve.