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Après novembre, décembre est arrive! (After November, December has arrived!) Et qui dit ‘décembre’ dit ‘fêtes’! (And that means the holidays!) Noël (Christmas) is just three weeks away and since we’re hosting ma belle-famille (my in-laws, sisters, nieces, nephews, and more!) it’s time to start getting ready.
An important part of any holiday celebration is the food. We have a whole menu planned for le Réveillon (Christmas Eve**) but since ma belle-famille vient du Québec (My in-laws are from Québec) every meal . . . whether it’s le repas du Réveillon de Noël (Christmas Eve dinner) or le petit-déjeuner du lendemain (or breakfast the next day) . . . has to include a couple of classic Canadian dishes. Fortunately for us, the staple favorites can easily be prepared ahead . . . which is just what we did this weekend!
And for your gastronomic pleasure, here are three classics you can try if you want a little taste of Québec for your own holidays (or any time!)
Les cretons de porc / pork spread
Cretons (also ‘gortons’) is a classicly Québécois spread usually served cold on bread or toast. It is made from ground pork . . . the fattier the better. While it can be quite hard sometimes these days to find really good, fatty pork, you can still whip this tasty savory spread up for your breakfasts.
This great article from a few years back has more details about the history of this “Canadian Peanut Butter” along with a good recipe.
For the next two, these are the original recipes from ma belle-famile so there not super precice . . . but practice makes perfect. Pay around with them a bit to find the perfect recipe for you.
La tourtière / pork pie
Tourtière is a meat pie that, like creton, is made from pork. Unlike cretons, la tourtière traces its roots back to Europe where you can still find it in parts of France.
600 g de porc haché / about 1 lb of ground pork
1 oignon, haché / 1 onion, minced
sel et poivre / salt and pepper
1/2 cuillères à café de muscade moulue / 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 cuillères à café de clou de girofle moulu / 1/2 teaspoon of ground glove
1/4 tasse d’eau bouillante / 1/4 cup of boiling water
2 – 3 cuillères a soupe de purée de pomme de terre / 2 – 3 soup spoons of mashed potato
Mix all the ingredients in a pot and simmer over low to medium heat uncovered for approximately 20 minutes. Let the mixture cool a little and then pour equal amounts into two separate pie crusts. Put a layer of crust on top and Bake in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool and enjoy!
La tarte au sucre / sugar pie
La tarte au sucre is like really good peacan pie . . . without the peacans! As the name suggests, it’s also pretty sweet. I recommend having lots of glace à la vanille (vanilla ice cream) handy to go along. For the filling:
2 tasses de cassonade / 2 cups of brown sugar
3 cuillères à soupe rase de farine / 3 level soup spoons of flour
1 tasse de lait / one cup of milk
1/2 tasse de crème / 1/2 cup of cream
Combine all the ingredients in a pot on the stove and heat up to just below boiling. Laisser mijoter 8 à 10 minutes en brassant constamment. (Cook for 8 – 10 minutes stirring constantly . . . or until it thickens up . . . be careful not to let it boil.) Let the mixture cool a little and then pour equal amounts into two separate pie crusts. Some people will but a layer of crust on top, but that is optional. Bake in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool and enjoy!
What about you? Do you have any French or Canadian holiday favorites that you look forward to eating at this time of year?
* ‘Three recipes for the holidays’
** ‘le Réveillon‘ can also refer to New Year’s Eve.
^ By Nickolas Muray [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
^^By snowpea&bokchoi [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
^^^ Michael Bissonnette