Traditional tourtière and the (in)famous caribou

In honour of the start of Festival du Voyageur this week, what better way to kick it off at home than by making traditional French Canadian tourtière.

Tourtière is a delectable meat pie that really sticks to your ribs on a frigid winter’s day. And the best way to wash it down? With a big mug of the (in)famous Voyageur cocktail — caribou. That’s a one-two punch that will really warm you up!

Easy French Canadian Tourtière

The tourtière dates back to when Quebec was a French settlement, with the most popular version originating in the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean region. This meat pie is often served on Christmas Eve, but can be enjoyed all year. We used prepared pie crust here so you can savour it any day of the week, but feel free to make your own from scratch if you have a great pie crust recipe and extra time.

Prep time: 40 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Serves: 8


• 1 pound lean ground pork

• 1/2 pound lean ground beef

• 1 onion, diced

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 1/2 cup water

• 1½ teaspoons salt

• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

• 1/4 teaspoon ground sage

• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 (14.1 ounce) package prepared double-crust pie pastry, thawed


1. Combine pork, beef, onion, garlic, water, salt, thyme, sage, black pepper, and cloves in a saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is cooked, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).

3. Brush unbaked bottom of pie crust with egg white. This will prevent any moisture from seeping into the bottom crust and making it mushy. It works!

4. Spoon meat mixture into pie crust. Cover with top crust and pinch edges to seal. Cut slits in top crust so steam can escape. Cover edges of pie with strips of aluminum foil to prevent burning.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove foil, return to the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 15 to 20 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing.

Note: Can be served with gravy or cranberry sauce. I’m a cranberry sauce fan, but my French husband likes it with gravy. You choose. Enjoy!

French Canadian Caribou Cocktail

The history of this drink is infamous. Back in the Colonial days when hunting and trapping were a way of life, in order to keep warm, a beverage of caribou blood and home brew would be drunk to ward off the worst effects of our northern winters. This modernized recipe, you’ll be happy to note, doesn’t contain any caribou blood. But it’s still very warming.

Serves: 5-6


• 4 cups red wine or port

• 1½ cups Canadian whiskey

• 3 tbsp maple syrup

• 1 cinnamon stick, (optional)

• 2 whole cloves, (optional)

• 1 orange peel, (optional)


1. Place all ingredients in a pot over medium heat.

2. Cook until maple syrup is completely incorporated and the liquid is hot, but not boiling.

3. Keep warm on stove until ready to serve. You can also prepare this in a slow cooker which is a safer way of keeping it hot. You know, in case a kitchen party gets started. He ho!