For the past 9 years since Ted and I have been together, we’ve continued a tradition that is decades-old in the Allen Family. On Christmas Eve we invite family and friends to our home for a pork pie buffet dinner. People come during the evening as time and other commitments allow, and some bring salads or hors d'oeuvre to share. There’s wine, dessert, Christmas music, and lots of laughter to round out the festivities.
The special feature of our evening is pork pie, a French-Canadian holiday dish, also called tortière. To save on the stress of preparing pies for 30 to 35 people on Christmas eve day, Ted and I set aside the first or second Monday of December for mass pie-production, with pies to be stored in the freezer until the party. Straight out of the freezer, the pies take only an hour or so to cook in a 400 oven.
This morning- December 8th- Ted and I rolled up our sleeves and I put on my apron for a day in the kitchen. We started with the two gluten-free, meatless pies in the morning... Yes, we make a meatless pork pie, which one family member with a sense of humor, dubbed ‘pork-ish pies’. We use a product called ‘Veggie Balls’ (vegetarian meatballs) and grind them with some mushrooms and onions, then add the traditional pork pie spices. We finished the pie filling with mashed potatoes from the pot of a dozen we’d cooked earlier in the morning.
Several years ago I tried making a gluten-free pie crust, but the mess was mostly unsuccessful, so now we just buy the pre-made gluten-free pie crusts and they work fine. (Gluten Free Vegetarian)
As I was assembling the Pork-ish pies, Ted began the process of mixing and grinding the ground pork, ground beef and onions for the next eight pies. Ten pounds of meat and four large onions are usually enough filling, for eight pies. Ted sent the meat mixture through the grinder twice, then into the big pot on the stove to simmer for about two hours. That’s our time for a lunch break, and maybe even a little nap.