Tourtière du Shack by Martin Picard of Au Pied du Cochon

Bon Appétit’s January 2012 edition featured a large article on Martin Picard from the restaurant Au Pied du Cochon here in Montreal.  I was rather pleased to see it, as it talked about a local culinary force, and about sugar shack’s – those much loved (or much dreaded) culinary wonders of maple syrup, pea soup, and lots of filling food.  The Au Pied du Cochon Sugar Shack website (Cabane à Sucre Au Pied du Cochon) showed up a while ago, already stating it was fully booked for the 2012 season.  You can see lots of chatter on Chowhound and Twitter about how to actually get a booking there – seems you just have to email them and hope for the best.

In the meantime, with no reservation, I might just have to settle for making the food at home and visiting other less illustrious sugar shacks which is a tradition in my husband’s family around Easter.  Thankfully, Bon Appétit has published several recipe’s from Monsieur Picard’s upcoming book – Sugar Shack Au Pied de Cochon.  The mag says the book is available on the restaurant website, but I don’t see it for sale yet.

For those of you who aren’t aware of the famous restaurant it’s definitely worth checking out.  I went a while back with friends, and meant to write a review but never got around to it.  It celebrates local Quebec foodstuff, in a rowdy, loud and fairly unique manner.  The restaurant itself is nothing special but packed out every night (expect to wait even if you have a reservation) and the food comes in enormous portions and is very very rich and intense.  Think poutine with fois gras, duck in a can (exactly as it sounds, they open the can and plop it on your plate), and enormous portions of everything.  Go hungry!

On to the tourtière – which I have to say I have never actually had at a sugar shack and I don’t think is actually typically found on the menu.  This is usually traditionally eaten around Christmas time with a green ketchup, although we just ate ours with normal Heinz (I thought briefly about trying to find the ketchup but was exhausted after making the recipe!)  The recipe is not for the faint of heart, and now I know why so many people buy their tourtière.  Start early in the day (or the day before) and pace yourself.  I would also like to add that like all of Martin Picard’s dishes, this one is bordering on extreme with a full block of butter in the crust (hope my husband doesn’t read this – he is continually alarmed at the amount of butter going through our fridge – sorry).  It’s also massively thick, and you really do need a large deep 9″ pie plate – or make two smaller regular size pies.

Good luck and on to the recipe!  Note that I have made some changes to the recipe.

Tourtière du Shack
adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine – January 2012

Crust:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups (1 block – 454g) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 tsp kosher salt

Filling:
2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 medium onions chopped and divided into the 1/2 onion and full onion
5 garlic cloves, chopped and divided into 2 cloves and 3 cloves
5 whole black peppercorns plus ground black pepper
5 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 lb boneless pork shoulder (Boston Butt), cut into 2″ pieces

1 tbsp unsalted butter
8 med button mushrooms (optional for mushroom haters!) stemmed and finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 lb ground pork
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup grated, peeled russet potato

1 large egg yolk, beaten with a tsp of water to blend

9″ diameter deep-dish glass or ceramic pie dish (I found mine at Loblaw’s)

Crust:

  • Pulse all 3 ingredients in a food processor until pea-sized pieces of butter form.  
  • Transfer to a large bowl
  • Add 1/4 cup of ice water and stir until just shaggy clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry (I added another 3/4 cup water in total).  Dough should come together but should not feel overly sticky.
  • Divide dough in half
  • Flatten each half into a disk
  • Wrap disks in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours
  • Can be made up to 2 days ahead – keep chilled.
Filling:
Part 1 – Shredded Pork
  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • Combine broth, 1/2 chopped onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, thyme and bay leaves in a medium pot.  
  • Add the pieces of pork shoulder.
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Cover pot and transfer to the oven
  • Braise until pork shoulder is tender and shreds easily – about two hours.  
  • Check level of water in the pot from time to time.  If the liquid is running low top it up with some water.
  • Remove from oven and let cool.
  • Transfer pork shoulder to a work surface.
  • Shred meat with your fingers or two forks and transfer to a medium bowl.
  • Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve.
  • Add 1/2 cup juices to pork and discard solids in a strainer.
Part 2 – Ground Pork
  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add remaining 1 chopped onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves.
  • Cook stirring often until soft – 7 minutes (at least)
  • Add mushrooms and cook stirring often until almost all liquid is evaporated, 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Add wine and stir scraping up browned bits.
  • Bring to a boil and cook stirring often until there is almost no liquid left.
  • Add ground pork, cinnamon and cloves
  • Cook stirring and breaking up the pieces until pork is cooked through – about 5 minutes.
  • Add potato and cook until the potato is soft – about 15 minutes.  Note: Test the potato to make sure it is actually cooked through.  If the mixture is looking a little dry at this point, add some water (around 3 tbsp at a time).  
  • Remove from heat and stir in the shredded pork with juices.
  • Season to taste.
  • Let cool and then chill until cold – about 1 hour.
  • Can be made 1 day ahead – cover and keep chilled.
Crust (again):
  • Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 12″ round
  • Transfer to pie dish so that it is the bottom crust and leave the overhang.
  • Fill with cooled meat mixture
  • Roll out remaining dough into a 10″ round
  • Place dough over meat filling.
  • At this point you might have quite a bit of overhang.  Trim it so that there is only about 1/2″ overhang all around
  • Fold overhang over top crust and crimp edges.
  • Brush crust with egg yolk
  • Cut three 2″ slits in top crust.  
  • Chill for 1 hour.
  • Note: The dough seems to be alarmingly thick, but in fact it is OK.  I did roll mine out a little larger than above measurements because it did seem so thick and ended up with quite a bit of overhang and extra dough which was eventually thrown out.
Cooking (finally!):
  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Bake tourtière for 30 minutes
  • Reduce heat to 350F
  • Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling – 40 – 50 minutes.
  • Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
  • Note: Because there is so much butter in the crust it will boil over so make sure you sit your pie plate on a cookie sheet otherwise it will be all over the bottom of the oven – and may or may not cause massive amounts of smoke and a very upset spouse :)

Links:
Au Pied du Cochon’s Sugar Shack
Au Pied du Cochon Restaurant
Chowhound link discussing the Sugar Shack 

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2 Comments

  1. I am about to begin this recipe (today! *gulp) and what would you think about using a regular bigger pie plate (10″, not deep-dish)? Also would you do the crust the same way (with the pound of butter or one could substitute a more reasonable recipe? thanks!!

  2. I definitely think that it’s too small. You could try and split it in two. Also, I’d probably go for a more reasonable crust recipe, but it’s up to you if you want something really rich! Good luck!

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