I met Celine 10 years ago when I moved to this part of the United States, and we have been friends ever since. The thing that connected us initially is that both of us were foreigners, me from Ireland, her a French-Canadian from Quebec.
One thing is for sure, humans tend to be drawn to their “own kind”, be it because of race, nationality, religion, or in our case, being Non-American was enough. If I met her in Ireland it would not have been the same. There would have been no reason to seek refuge in each other’s company. So, we bonded because we both knew what it was like to be a stranger, but we remained friends because it turned out that we had more in common than just that.
The language barrier, even thought Celine’s english was pretty good, was enough to make our communication very funny at times. Sometimes she would go on and on about something or other, then look at me for a response? I would stare at her dumbly and say “I couldn’t understand a word you said!” She would laugh and hit me in frustration, all the while knowing I knew exactly what she was trying to say. I suppose I got used to “Celine Speak!”. God only knows what my french must have sounded like, only she is nicer than me and would never make me feel bad.
The reason I am writing about my friend is that for now she has moved back to Canada, with her American husband and daughter, and I miss her very much, non more than this time of year when she makes her “famous” (to us anyway) Christmas Meat Pie. My solution to getting this pie every year was to invite them to stay at our house for Christmas, which is what they did last year. She made her meat pie and it is this recipe I am generously going to share with you.
They are coming again this year and I am looking forward to seeing my friend, for my kids to hang out with their best friend, making fun of her English, and of course devouring some hefty slices of meat pie.
By the way, you may notice in her directions (photo above) that the dough should be “humid”. I gather she means “moist” – Foreigners!
For meat filling; You will need:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 lbs ground turkey (you can also use a different meat such as pork, lamb or beef, or, a combination of meats)
2 celery ribs, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 medium potatoes, small dice (Celine used red-skinned potatoes)
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp sea-salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
water (to be determined)
For dough; You will need:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cups vegetable lard (Celine used Crisco)
2+ cups of icy water
Equipment: 3 9″ pie pans with deep sides
Make the pie dough:
1 – Put flour in a big bowl and add salt. Use a manual whisk to mix the salt into the flour. Add the lard and using your fingertips crumble the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles rubble.
2 – Make a well in the center of the fur and add the cold water. Add 2 cups initially and mix together with a wooden spoon. add a little water at a time until the dough is one big ball. The ball should be a little tacky with no floury bit.
3 – Take out of bowl and knead a couple of times on a lightly floured surface. divide into three and divide each ball into 1 ball to cover the pie plate bottom and sides, and 1 ball to go on top (one ball will be bigger than the other). Flatten into disc and wrap in plastic. place in oven for up to 1 hour.
1 – Prep all vegetables and assemble spices and herbs before you begin cooking.
2 – Put a very big pot or saute pan (we used my giant metal casserole dish) on medium heat and add the oil. Add the onions, garlic and celery and saute gently for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 – Add the meat and break it up with a wooden spoon as you continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Add the spices, bay leaves and dried herbs and mix well.
4 – Next add the diced potatoes and continue to cook until the whole pot of meat starts to turn brown. When the meat is brown add enough water to barely reach the top of the meat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
5 – Take the dough from the fridge and wait five minutes before rolling 6 discs (3 for the bottom and 3 for the top). Use a little flour on the work surface and a little on your rolling-pin as you go. It doesn’t have to be perfect so don’t worry if your shapes are odd.
6 – Lightly butter your pie pans and lay the bigger disc of dough into the pan. Shape it to the sides and cut excess off the edges, leaving a little extra as you go. Fill the space with meat filling (to the top) and lay smaller pie dough over top. Press the top and bottom of the dough together with your fingers or a fork. it can be a thick edge.
7 – Place in preheated oven for 45 minutes to one hour or until the top is golden brown. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.
It an also be left to cool and reheated in a 325* (covered) for up to 35 minutes (depending on how cold it is). It can also be frozen and reheated from frozen. in a 350* oven for 40 or so minutes.