My family’s holiday tradition involves a get-together on New Year ’s Day at my cousin’s home in Montreal. Some drive from the Ottawa area, others drive down from Trois-Rivières. We invade her entryway with dozens of boots, the closet bursts with coats, and laughter soon spills out of every room. A key part of the success of our tradition is that everyone brings a dish to create a traditional Québecois holiday feast. In the spirit of giving and sharing, here are some recipes that will bring French Canadian warmth to your heart (and perhaps an inch to your waistline).

Tourtière – meat tart (makes 4 pies)

This is an ultra-classic dish. It looks in every way like a pie, but the filling is a mixture of meats seasoned with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. It is often served with fruit ketchup and plated with potatoes and vegetables.

2 lbs. of ground beef

1 lb. of ground veal

1 lb. of ground pork

2 finely chopped onions

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tsp. dry savoury

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper, to taste

8 pie dough disks

Mix all ingredients in a large pot, adding water to half the height of the pot. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring frequently.


Let the temperature drop to warm, off-heat. Cover four pie moulds with disks of dough and add meat mixture evenly between the four. Cover the meat with a disk of dough, using a fork around the edge to seal it shut. Cut ventilation holes in the middle of the pie before baking in the oven at 350°F, until the crust is golden.


Cipâte / cipaille – meat pie in a pot (feeds a crowd)

This family-friendly meat dish was undoubtedly created by a busy woman in need of a make-ahead dish to feed a large brood. The name of the dish changes in every region of Québec and so do the ingredients. Some recipes call for deer, moose, partridge, and hare. Others call for pork, veal, or chicken  or duck. Pick your favourite meat(s) and follow the method below for a hearty plate of bonne bouffe.

1 lb. of cubed beef

1 lb. of cubed veal

1 lb. of cubed pork

1 lb. of cubed deer or moose

1/2 lb. of cubed chicken

1/2 lb. of cubed hare

3 chopped onions

3 cups of grossly diced potatoes

1 1/2 tbsp. parsley

2 tsp. savoury

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 pinches nutmeg

Salt and pepper

1 cup of butter or shortening

Beef broth (volume depending on size of dish)

Pie dough, rolled out to fit size of biggest oven-safe pot

Cut meat into cubes, season with all spices and chopped onions. Mix thoroughly, cover and let sit at cool temperature overnight. Melt butter or shortening in your largest oven-safe pot. Remove from heat and layer mixed meat cubes with onions, then a layer of cubed potatoes. Cover with a layer of rolled pie dough and poke a thumb-sized hole in the middle of the dough. Repeat with another layer of meat, then potatoes, then dough, until you run out of ingredients. Cover finally with a thick layer of dough, poking a smaller hole in this layer. Pour broth into the dish with a funnel until it reaches the top layer of meat. Cover the dish with a lid and cook in oven for about 7 hours at 250°F, adding broth if necessary. The dish should be very moist, but not soupy.

Sucre à la crème – crumbly fudge

Photo cred: Mark Demers

These sweet bites are appropriate year-round and are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup 35% cream

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

In a saucepan, mix white sugar, brown sugar, salt and cream. Cook over very low heat, without boiling, until the sugars have melted. Bring to a boil after they have melted, and cook until a drop of the mixture becomes a soft ball in a glass of water. Remove from heat and let temperature drop to warm. Add the butter, vanilla and nuts. Mix together and spread into a very shallow buttered dish. Let cool and cut in cubes.

I hope you enjoy these treats as much as we do!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours,


Catherine joined TuGo in 2013 as a Claims Examiner. She enjoys volunteering as a mentor with KidStart.

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Québécois Holiday Recipes

Dec 24 2013