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Eric Akis: Mushrooms lend meaty taste to vegetarian tourtière

This meat-free, richly seasoned version of tourtière has a meaty taste and look thanks to the combination of mushrooms and other ingredients used in the filling.
Tourtière, with a chickpea, mushroom and vegetable filling, served with tomato apricot chutney. ERIC AKIS

My late mother was French Canadian. She enjoyed eating tourtière and passed on the tradition of making and serving it to me. In this column over the years I’ve offered a few different meat-rich recipes for it, but not today.

That’s because when recently reviewing several recipes for vegetarian-style tourtière, I was inspired to make one. I noticed a few of those recipes used canned chickpeas and mushrooms as the base for the filling and that was my starting point.

In a food processor, I coarsely chopped the chickpeas and then set them in a mixing bowl. The mushrooms, a mix of white and brown ones, with the latter giving the filling a meaty taste, were then finely chopped in the food processor.

In a skillet, I sautéed onions, shallots and carrots, and then mixed in some garlic, spices, thyme and the mushrooms, cooking and stirring the mushrooms until the water seeping from them evaporated.

A vegetable stock/flour mixture was then stirred in and the mixture was simmered until very thick. This mixture was added to chickpeas, and cubes of cooked potato and chopped fresh parsley were also mixed in, creating a very savoury, meat-like-looking filling for the tourtière.

I’ve also included a recipe for the dough needed for the tourtière, but you can certainly use your own trusted pie dough recipe for it, if you have one.

Because there are few steps required to make it, I like to spilt up the work and make the filling for tourtière, cool and refrigerate it, the day before I make the pie.

You can serve the tourtière with such things as pickled beets, pickles, mustard pickles, relishes and chutneys, homemade if you have them. I served it with tomato apricot chutney (see recipe below).

Tourtière with Chickpeas, Mushrooms and Vegetables

This meat-free, richly seasoned version of tourtière has a meaty taste and look thanks to the combination of mushrooms and other ingredients used in the filling.

Preparation time: 75 minutes

Cooking time: about 70 minutes

Makes: eight servings

1 can (19 oz/540 ml) chickpeas, drained, rinsed and drained well again

8 oz (227 grams) white mushrooms, quartered (see Note 1)

8 oz (227 grams) brown mushrooms, quartered

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup finely diced white or yellow onion

1/2 cup grated carrot

1/4 cup finely diced shallot (about 1 small to medium one)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 cup vegetable stock

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, plus some for rolling

1 cup peeled yellow-fleshed potatoes, cut into small cubes, simmered until just tender, drained and cooled

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, taste

3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

• dough for a double crust pie (see recipe below)

1 large egg, beaten, or olive oil, for brushing

Place chickpeas in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped and crumbly looking (do not puree). Transfer chickpeas to a mixing bowl.

In a food processor, finely chop the white mushrooms. When finely chopped, they’ll will look like a paste with tiny bits of mushrooms in it. Transfer mushrooms to a second bowl. Finely chop the brown mushrooms as you did the white ones, and then transfer them to the bowl with the white mushrooms.

Place the 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet set over medium, medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrot and shallot and cook until softened, about three to four minutes. Mix in the mushrooms, garlic, thyme, cinnamon and cloves. Cook mushrooms until the water seeping from them has evaporated, about seven minutes.

Place stock and 2 Tbsp flour in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Mix into the mushroom mixture. Simmer a few minutes, until the stock has greatly reduced and the mushroom mixture is very thick.

Spoon the mushroom mixture into the bowl with the chickpeas. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and mix to combine. Let this tourtière filling cool to room temperature, and then mix in the parsley. Cover and refrigerate until ready to make the tourtière (you can make the filling a day before needed).

To make the tourtière, set out a nine-inch, four-cup (one quart) capacity, deep-dish pie plate. Set one of the discs of dough on a lightly floured surface. Dust the top of it and your rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough from the centre out until it’s about two inches wider than the top of your pie plate. To create a round shape, give the dough an eighth of a turn after each roll, dusting with more flour if needed.

To make the move to the pie plate, carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin. Place the dough just above the front of the pie plate, and then gently unroll into it. If dough breaks when doing this, simply press back together.

Evenly pack the tourtière filling into the bottom piecrust. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg (or olive oil). Roll out the second disc of dough as you did the first. Set this top crust on, crimping the edges to seal. Trim off excess pastry (see Note 2).

Cut out a small circle in the centre of tourtière to allow steam to escape. Lightly brush top of the pastry with beaten egg or oil. Refrigerate tourtière 20 minutes or more to firm up the dough (see Eric options).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 F. Bake tourtière in the middle of the oven 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and cook 30 minutes more, or until pastry is cooked and nicely browned top and bottom. Allow tourtière to rest and set about 20 minutes, before cutting into wedges and serving.

Note 1: The white and brown mushrooms I bought were individually sold in eight-ounce tubs. If buying the mushrooms in bulk, 12 to 14 medium (about 1 1/2- to two-inch wide) white or brown mushrooms will equal about eight-ounces.

Note 2: Save the pastry trimmings for another use, such as the topping for a sweet or savoury potpie.

Eric’s options: You could make the tourtière oven-ready many hours before needed. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to bake.

Dough for Double-Crust Pie

This is my recipe for flaky pie dough, minus the small amount of butter I normally add to it. Although it will be more fragile, the dough could be made egg-free, if desired (see Eric’s options).

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking time: none

Makes: dough for a double-crust pie

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for shaping

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups cold vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (see Eric’s options)

1 large egg, beaten with 1/3 cup ice-cold water

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. With a pastry cutter, two forks or with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, cut the shortening into the flour until well blended.

Pour the egg/water mixture into the bowl; gently work it until it forms loose, moist dough that just holds together. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface.

With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a ball. Cut the ball in half. Press each half into a 1/2-inch-thick disc. Wrap and refrigerate the discs for at least 20 minutes, before rolling out and using as described in the tourtière recipe.

Eric’s options: If you can’t eat egg, replace with an additional 2 Tbsp of ice-cold water.

Tomato Apricot Chutney

The natural acidity in apricots and tomatoes provide balance and intriguing tastes to this nicely spiced chutney you could serve with tourtière. This chutney could also be served as a condiment for curries, meat pies, pate, baked ham and cheese.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes

Makes: one and half cups

1 lb. ripe on-the-vine tomatoes (about 3 to 4, depending on size)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1/4 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tsp cider vinegar or rice vinegar

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

12 dried apricots, each cut into 1/4-inch cubes (see Note)

Core the tomatoes and dice into small, 1/2-inch cubes. Pour oil into a small to medium pot set over medium, medium-high heat. Add the fennel seeds, mustard seeds and pepper flakes and cook until they just start to crackle, about one to two minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, mix to combine and bring chutney to a simmer. Adjust the heat so the chutney just barely bubbles and cook about 25 to 30 minutes, until thickened, but still a little saucy and shiny looking. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until needed. Chutney will keep a week or two if kept in a tight-sealing jar.

Note: I used organic, unsulphured, softer in texture, darker in colour, dried apricots when testing this recipe.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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