Savory Quebec Dishes

After a week of eating leftover party food, I figured it was time to share some more traditional recipes from Quebec. First off, I’m glad to say that everyone seemed to like the food during our get-together. Although everyone had a different favorite dish, no particular dish grossed out anyone, so that’s certainly a plus. I should probably explain myself. A lot of Quebec food is very fatty or ridiculously sweet. We also never eat all these dishes on one given day. Although I love all the dishes, not everyone is used to eating some much ground pork, butter, brown sugar (not in the same dish…although this could be an interesting challenge, :)). I never know how people will react to the food but the comments I received were very good. It was especially encouraging as I was making some of the dishes for the first time and I didn’t know how they would turn out. So, in this post, I will share the recipes for three savory dishes that were especially appreciated: cretons (pork spread), tourtière (pork pie), and fèves au lard (baked beans).

Alright, here’s a little background on cretons. In Quebec, this is something we commonly eat for breakfast, on toasts. I grew up eating veal spread but when I made it a few years ago, several people were upset that I would ever cook with veal (I know, I know, they’re baby cows…but they taste so good!) so this year, I decided to make it with pork instead, which is also a common variation. As I said, we normally eat this on toast but, for the party, I had a thin-sliced baguette and gluten-free crackers. I forgot to take a picture of it so here is a link to the Wikipedia page

Cretons (Pork Spread)
– 2 tablespoons of butter
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 lb of ground pork
– 3/4 cup of chicken broth
– 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon of ground clove
– 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
– Salt & pepper, to taste
– 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs

What’s next?
1. In a large pan, cook the onions with the butter, for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the pork and cook it with the onions for about 5 minutes.
3. Add all the ingredients, except for the breadcrumbs.
4. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
5. Season to taste. Add the breadcrumbs.
6. Put in a blender, but make sure it’s not completely liquid. You just want a somewhat homogeneous consistency (little chunks are ok)
7. Put in a glass dish, cover it, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

The next dish is tourtière. Each region has a different interpretation for it. I just picked one online that looked easy enough and modified it a bit. As you will see, the ingredients are very similar to the pork spread. I had never made it before and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure I even tried it before. When I did taste it, I realized it was very similar to the meat pies my mom makes. I made mine with a very patriotic fleur-de-lys, simply because of the occasion but I loved how easy it was to had this little touch so I might do it every time I make a double-crusted pie from now on. I simply put my dough (already rolled) on the counter, cut a piece off with a cookie cutter, and then sliced off about 1/8 inch around the shape. I put the crust on the pie and then put the piece back in the middle. Voilà!

Tourtière (Pork Pie)
– 1 lb of ground pork
– 3/4 cup of cold water
– 1/2 cup of onion, finely chopped
– 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
– 1 bay leaf
– 1/2 teaspoon of dried savory
– 1/4 teaspoon of dried rosemary
– 1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
– 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
– Salt
– 1/4 cup of oatmeal
– 2 pie crusts (I used the one from the store as I got lazy)
– 1 egg, beaten, for glaze

What’s Next?
1. In a large, deep pan, combine the pork and the water, and cook until the water starts boiling.
2. Add the onion, pepper, bay leaf, savory, rosemary, nutmeg and cinnamon.
3. Cover and cook for 40 minutes. Add water if necessary. You don’t want the mixture to dry out while it cooks.
4. Halfway through, add the salt, to taste.
5. Add the oats and stir for 1 minute or so.
6. Remove the bay leaf and let the mixture cool.
7. Prepare your pie shell. When your mixture is lukewarm, put it on the pie crust. You can brush some egg on the edge, between the first and second crust to help them stick together. Cover it with the top crust. Brush the top of the pie with egg as well.
8. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes and then bring it down to 375F for 25 minutes or so.

The last recipe I will share comes from my mom. Considering the way she told me about it, I’m assuming there’s no official recipe, you just sort of make it up. Back in the days, the beans were cooked in lard (hence the name fèves au lard). Nowadays, most people use bacon. It’s not necessarily healthier but it definitely sounds better if you say you use bacon, rather than lard. Also, these beans are not really like American baked beans because they don’t come in tomato-type sauce. But then again, I’ve only had the canned stuff so I could be wrong. Now, I apologize as this might look like a very vague recipe. There are no exact quantities so you just have to taste a lot and season until you like it!

Fèves au lard (baked beans)
– Bag of dried Navy beans
– Bacon
– Onion, cut in think slices
– Dried mustard
– Salt and pepper
– Chicken bouillon, diluted in water (go heavy on the powder!)
– Water

What’s Next?
1. Soak the beans overnight (at least 12 hours) in a bowl of water on the counter.
2. 12 hours later, rinse the beans.
3. Cover the cover of the dutch oven or slow cooker (I used the slow cooker but my mom always makes it in a dutch oven), with strips of bacon.
4. Add the beans (on top of the bacon). Put the onion slices on top of the beans.
5. Add the mustard, salt and pepper and cover it all with the chicken broth. Cover everything with another row of bacon strips.
6. Cook for 1 hour at 350F (High if you use a slow cooker) and then 7 hours at 275F (Low, if using a slow cooker).
7. During the last 30 minutes, taste the beans and add any necessary seasoning. Mine tasted very bland so I added a lot of chicken bouillon, some more dry mustard and even some maple sugar. We also took the bacon and onions from the top, cut them up, fried them in a pan for a couple of minutes an then mixed them back in the slow cooker. We let it cooked for a little bit longer and we finally reached perfection!

Again, I apologize for the confusing and very vague instructions. It was my first attempt so I had to adjust a lot. I will definitely make them again as it was such a big success. I promise to measure the ingredients next time to offer a recipe easier to follow!

Now, I don’t recommend making these three recipes all at once. That would be delicious but definitely over the top. It would also be a lot of work, trust me! Another important point is that both the pie and the spread can easily go in the freezer so you can definitely make bigger quantities to use later. I would definitely have a freezer filled with pork pie if only we had enough room in there. Did I mention that I *need* an upright freezer??? 🙂

4 thoughts on “Savory Quebec Dishes”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s