In our family, there has to be Tourtière at Christmas time. It’s one of those traditions that everyone loves and expects after church on Christmas Eve. If we’re visiting my parents at the farm, church is a 45 minute drive either way so we usually begin eating the Tourtière, along with many other appetizers and treats, around 1 am. That way we will have full tummies to withstand the gauntlet of frenzied present opening and merry making that often lasts until 3 or 4 in the morning. It was pretty brutal when my kids were small, but they are older now and the whole family is able to have a good sleep-in Christmas morning.
Our last two Christmases have been here in Calgary and we celebrate Christmas Eve a little differently here in the city. Now that the kids are older, we can give them the gift of charity by volunteering with a local organization called The Magic of Christmas. The Magic of Christmas is an organization that has been running for years. They are there for people who are going through a rough patch and as a result of circumstances are unable to give their children a good Christmas. In order to qualify, the family must be nominated by a friend or family member. Calgary Transit donates all the busses, the drivers donate their time, and the toys are donated throughout the year during various toy drives and strategically placed boxes in many businesses. In the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, volunteers sort through the toys by age and sex, all the way from baby to adult and each box carries toys suitable for that age range. On Christmas Eve, each bus is loaded up and the boxes take up all the seating…one side for boys and one side for girls with adults at the back.
All the Christmas Eve volunteers prepare ahead of time by attending the Elf Rally and going for a costume fitting (did I mention we all dress like elves?!), while the CEO (Chief Elf Officer) and Bus Santa attend extra sessions as their jobs are a little bit more involved. Hubby was our Bus Santa the first year but he said there was too much pressure and he prefers to stay an elf…but this year I get to be the CEO! I haven’t attended my training session yet but I think I’ll be in charge of decorating the bus, making sure Santa is presentable and hydrated, planning our delivery route, and calling out the requirements for the houses we visit. I’ll have a master list of all the recipients which tells me how many people to expect at each home, whether or not they need a food or turkey hamper, and suggested gifts for each person in the family. It takes a little bit of skill (and a lot of Christmas magic) to be able to load Santa’s pack on a moving city bus!
Our family always volunteers for the later shift that begins around 3:30. It goes pretty late and we are pretty tired afterward and the last thing I want to do is make dinner. The great thing is that with a little planning ahead, dinner is already made! I make and freeze our Tourtière ahead of time, then put it in the oven and set the timer before we leave. I always have to approximate when we’ll be home because it really depends on when we’re finished our delivery list. With a side salad and some prepared veggies, we’re always thankful to come home to a cooked dinner at the end of a long day of giving.
Christmas Eve Tourtière
- 450 grams lean minced pork
- 15 crimini mushrooms
- 1 medium onion; small dice
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 1/2 tsp dried powdered sage
- 3/4 tsp ground cloves
- 4 medium potatoes
- double pastry for a pie
MethodPeel the potatoes, cut into cubes, and boil until they are soft enough to drain and mash. Set aside mashed potatoes. Add all the mushrooms to the bowl of a food processor and process until they are quite fine, though not as far as to make a paste. Sweat the mushrooms in a med-hot pan with a bit of vegetable oil (if necessary). Remove and cool. Add small diced onions and some vegetable oil to the pan and sautée onions until softened. Add minced pork to the pan and brown; breaking it up as it cooks. Add dried herbs and season the meat mixture with salt and pepper. Mix mushrooms and potatoes into the meat. Cool until filling is room temperature. Roll out pastry and place in a deep dish pie plate OR springform pan. Add meat mixture to pie and top with pastry. Don’t forget to make pretty designs! Bake 400 F for 20 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 F for another 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is nice and golden. You can freeze it for anther day or eat it right away!