The 12th Day of Christmas: Mushroom Tourtière

Makes two 9-inch pies

It’s finally here – the 12th Day of Christmas. I say finally, but in truth the days went by very fast. The 12 Days of Christmas has been a fun project, and we’ve shared an amazing spread of delicious food with friends and family in the process. As mentioned on day six, without really meaning to, three of the 12 recipes we chose feature mushrooms. Today’s is the third and final. A twist on the classic Quebecois tourtière, it is 100% vegetarian and is an impressive meal offering for those skipping out on the turkey or ham.

Tourtière is a French Canadian meat pie, typically made with minced pork, but each family has its own recipe that can also feature beef, veal, or game meats. It graces many holiday tables across Canada and is often accompanied by a variety of condiments ranging from ketchup to maple syrup. I like to serve it with chutney or, in this case, a spicy tomato jam.

To the meat-eating tourtière traditionalists out there, I know you’re probably skeptical of this vegetarian version, but I can assure you this dish pleases meat and veggie lovers alike.  As is the case with so many quality vegetarian meals, this dish takes time to prepare. To create a balanced, satisfying meal the ingredients are well thought out. Multiple types of mushrooms, accented by traditional savory tourtière spices, provide many layers of flavour.  Millet and oats round it out by ensuring a hearty, satisfying meal for the vegetarians at the table (though meat eaters equally love it as a side dish too).

This recipe has been adapted from the Pan Chancho cookbook. Pan Chancho is a landmark bakery and café in Kingston, Ontario where I grew up. It was the pride and joy of Zaliman Yanovsky and his wife Rose Richardson. Zal was a famous musician who played guitar and sang in the band Lovin’ Spoonful – and he also happened to be extremely passionate about food. Upon retirement, together Rose and Zal greatly influenced, and arguably elevated, Kingston’s food scene. Although both have passed away, their passion for food lives on in their bakery Pan Chancho, and their restaurant Chez Piggy, now operated by their daughter Zoe.

I have fond memories of visiting Pan Chancho while growing up.  Saturday mornings included stops at the farmers’ market and Pan Chancho, just a few blocks away from market square.  I loved taking in the bakery’s amazing selection of sourdough breads, cheeses, and occasionally indulging in one of their giant lemon-currant cinnamon rolls.

Now when I go back to Kingston to visit family and friends, Pan Chancho is always a must-stop, with at least one brunch at the café catching up with an old friend. While I didn’t make it back to Kingston this Christmas, Pan Chancho was well represented at our table with this tourtière. Merry Christmas everyone!

Ingredients

  • ½ oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 lb mixed mushrooms (cremini, shitake, white button)
  • 1 ¼ cups millet
  • 1 ¼ cups rolled oats
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 x double crust pastry recipe (your favourite)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp 10% cream

Method

In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over dried porcini’s and set aside to steep for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean fresh mushrooms of any debris by brushing lightly with a clean, damp tea towel. Working in batches, pulse mushrooms in a food processor until finely, and evenly shredded.

In a large saucepan heat oil over medium heat, stir in onion and cook until soft and translucent, about five minutes. Stir in garlic, shredded mushrooms and leave to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point, the mushrooms should be cooked down and will have released a fair amount of moisture.

Empty mushroom mixture into a large sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth. Suspend over a large bowl and weight mixture, using a bowl or plate, to press out remaining liquid. Let stand for 30 minutes. Once as much moisture has been drained from the mushrooms as possible, measure the liquid and set aside.

Remove re-hydrated porcinis from soaking water and finely chop in the food processor. Add these to the mushroom mixture and set aside.

Add the porcini soaking water to the extracted mushroom juices from above. You should have about three or four cups. Add enough water to measure five cups.

In a medium pot, bring three cups of mushroom liquid to a boil and stir in millet. Reduce heat and simmer until all moisture has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

In a separate pot, heat remaining two cups of liquid over medium-high heat and stir in oats. Reduce heat and simmer for about eight minutes, or until all moisture has been absorbed.

In a large bowl, combine mushrooms, cooked millet and oats, soy sauce, and spices. Spread on a baking sheet and cool completely. The filling is now complete.

While it cools, preheat oven to 450°F and roll pastry into four even rounds. In a small dish, lightly beat egg and cream together with a fork to make egg wash. Set aside.

Line two nine-inch pie plates with two of the pastry rounds. Divide cooled mushroom mixture evenly between the two dishes. Brush edges of bottom crust with egg wash and lay remaining rounds of pastry over each of the pies. Trim excess pastry and pinch edges to seal.

Make a few slits in the centre of each pie to allow steam to escape. Brush top crusts with the egg wash and place pies in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and cook for an additional 35-40 minutes, until crust is golden.

Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with condiments of your choice — apple chutney or a tomato jam will pair nicely.