February 23, 2023

Tourtière du Lac St-Jean

Recipe: J-C Poirier

“Everyone has a different way of doing tourtière based on the region they’re from or how their grandmother did it. I put this one together the way my mom did.”


Tourtière Spices (batch)

  • 5 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 1⁄2 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp ground ginger

Chicken Stock (batch)

  • 1 large onion
  • 4 1⁄2 lbs. chicken bones (neck, wings and feet preferred)
  • 3 cloves garlic (unpeeled), smashed
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into large pieces
  • 3 parsley stems
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1⁄4 sheet kombu (optional)
  • 16 cups cold water

Pâte à Pâté (batch)

  • 4 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 cup + 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 3⁄4 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 3⁄4 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp kosher salt

Duck Confit

  • 1 tsp juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves only
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on duck legs (about 41⁄2 lbs. total)
  • 6 cups duck fat

Tourtière du Lac St-Jean

  • 2 1⁄5 lbs. pork shoulder, diced into 1⁄2″ cubes
  • 2 1⁄5 lbs. beef short ribs or shank, deboned and most of fat removed, diced into 1⁄2″ cubes
  • 5 oz. lard or unsmoked bacon, diced into thick lardons
  • 1 cup amber beer from Quebec
  • 5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 6–8 juniper berries, crushed with mortar and pestle
  • 3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Tourtière Spices (see recipe)
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock (see recipe, or store-bought or water)
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 1⁄5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1⁄2″ cubes
  • 1 batch Pâte à Pâté (see recipe)
  • 1 lb. (3 legs) Duck Confit (see recipe), pulled and roughly chopped
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp homogenized milk (3.25% milk fat), lightly beaten, for egg wash


Yield: Makes 8 to 10 portions

Make Tourtière Spices

  1. In small bowl, combine all ingredients. Transfer to airtight container and store in cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

Make Chicken Stock

  1. Peel onion and cut it in half through root end. Heat large cast-iron pan on high heat and char onion halves, flat-side down. (This step is optional but will give your stock a lot of depth of flavor.)
  2. In large stockpot, combine chicken bones, onion, garlic, celery, parsley, thyme and kombu. Cover with cold water, bring to a simmer on low heat and simmer gently for 150 minutes, skimming off any impurities that rise to surface.
  3. Strain stock carefully through chinois or tamis; you should have around 8 cups. Store in fridge for up to 3 days, or in freezer for 3 months.

Make Pâte à Pâté

  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour and cornstarch.
  2. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, begin mixing butter on medium speed, then incorporate egg yolks, followed by water and salt. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing until just combined, taking care not to overwork pastry. Cover pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Make Duck Confit

  1. Using mortar and pestle, grind berries, then add bay leaves, thyme and rosemary, and crush herbs for a few seconds. Add salt and mix all above ingredients together.
  2. Place duck legs in medium bowl and season liberally with herbed salt. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 24 hours in fridge.
  3. The next day, preheat oven to 300°F, with rack in center position. Remove duck legs from fridge, rinse off salt and pat dry. Using tip of paring knife, make small pricks all over skin to help fat render.
  4. In heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot or Dutch oven on medium heat, melt duck fat and heat to 195°F. Carefully place duck legs in hot fat and return to 195°F, then cover with lid or foil, and transfer pot to oven. Roast until duck is very tender and there’s no resistance when pulling bones, about 90 to 120 minutes. Make sure fat never boils or even simmers, or duck will overcook. Remove from oven and let meat cool in fat.
  5. Carefully remove duck legs from fat and set aside on baking sheet. Strain duck fat through tamis into large bowl, leaving any cloudy liquid behind. To store, place legs in deep airtight container and pour strained fat over top until it covers legs by 1″.

Make Tourtière

  1. In large bowl, mix pork, beef, lardons, beer, garlic, onions, juniper berries, thyme, bay leaves, salt and Tourtière Spices. Cover and marinate in fridge for minimum of 12 hours, and up to 16 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in center position. To large ovenproof pot add marinated meat mixture with all liquid. Stir gently on medium-high heat until all liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes. In separate pot on high heat, bring Chicken Stock to a simmer. Sprinkle flour on meat mixture, then add stock, stirring slowly. Cover tightly and braise in oven for 90 minutes. Stir in potatoes and cook for 30 minutes, until meat and potatoes are fork-tender. Let cool at room temperature for 60 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
  3. Meanwhile, on lightly floured work surface, roll out two-thirds of Pâte à Pâté dough into large rectangle about 1⁄4″ thick. Lay dough in bottom and up sides of casserole dish, letting excess hang over edges. Roll out remaining dough to 1⁄4″ thick, in shape of casserole dish, and set aside.
  4. Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Add Duck Confit to meat mixture and mix well. Pour into casserole dish. Cut off any excess dough from around edges. Brush edges lightly with egg wash and cover with reserved dough. Form chimney by cutting small hole in center of top crust to let steam escape while baking. Pinch edges of crust to seal, and trim off excess dough. Decorate top of tourtière as desired. Brush thin layer of egg wash over top.
  5. Place tourtière on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. This gives tourtière a crispy inside crust. Lower oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking for 90 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 60 minutes before cutting and serving.

Brit Gill


Excerpted from Where the River Narrows: Classic French & Nostalgic Québécois Recipes From St. Lawrence Restaurant by Jean-Christophe Poirier with Joie Alvaro Kent. Appetite by Random House, 2022.