French Canadian meat pie warms the soul

Meat pie
Meat pie (Jessica Grann)

By Jessica Grann

My mother has made this recipe for as far back as I can remember, and it’s just as comforting to me now as it was during my childhood. It’s very simple to prepare, especially if you use store-bought pie crust. I’m not an expert with pastry and fluting edges, and I think a lot of us are intimidated by making pies because we have this idea they must be perfect. If you’re talented in these areas, your techniques will only add to the presentation, but you can see by my photo that I used a fork to press the layers of pie crust together. It doesn’t look as beautiful as my mother’s pie but it tastes just as good.

This recipe has lots of sage and black pepper and makes a wonderful meal on a cold winter day.

Makes 1 deep-dish pie with 6 full servings

  • 2 pie crusts; store-bought is fine
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and diced — about 1½ cups
  • 1 egg, beaten, to brush over pastry crust before baking 

Preheat oven to 425 F and place the wire rack in the center position.

Using a large saute pan over medium heat, combine the meat and onions, browning and chopping up until the onions soften and the meat is no longer pink. This takes 10-12 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium-low and add in the garlic, stirring it just until it becomes fragrant but doesn’t burn.

Stir in the salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and sage, allowing to cook for 1 minute longer before adding in the water and potatoes.

Allow this mixture to come to a soft boil before reducing the heat again to low.

Cover with lid and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Line a pie plate with the first layer of pastry, leaving extra pastry along the edges so you are able to seal the pie to the top layer.

Using a fork, prick the bottom layer of pastry about 10 times. This allows the fat from the meat to bake into the bottom crust so the pie crust doesn’t stick to the plate.

Scoop in the meat and potato mixture.

There will be fat at the bottom of the pan. You don’t have to add it all, but you will want to add about half of it to the pie. The fat combines with the pastry crust while baking, and that is what gives this pie such amazing texture and flavor.

Add the top layer of pie crust. Flute the edges or simply press them together with a fork.

Brush with the egg wash and bake at 425 F for 15 minutes before reducing the oven temperature to 350 F.

Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, then remove the pie from the oven.

Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

This is a family favorite and is the kind of meal that is warming to your soul. Enjoy!

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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