I know we just finished Thanksgiving but bookmark this one for when Christmas rolls around in a few weeks! How many of you ate “meat pie” on Christmas Eve?
Can I just tell you that when I decided to stop eating flour on a regular basis the thing that made me waver on it the most was meat pie???? Not pizza, not cake, not sandwiches, but something I ate only once or twice a year. I grew up in a household that ate French Canadian Tourtiere (also known as meat pie) every Christmas Eve after we came home from the 7pm Mass (and right before my sisters and I exchanged Christmas presents with each other). My mother was the cook in our household and she passed away in 2001 so while a lot of our traditions have changed since, I’m always quick to hold on to whatever I can that reminds me of her. Tourtiere was not one I was willing to give up. Just the smell of it cooking in the kitchen reminds me of being a kid and all the fond memories that go with holidays around that. It’s kind of funny how hard I’ve held on to that, especially considering I didn’t even eat pork or beef from my early teenage years until just a few years ago – but that reminder of family times is still there.
Earlier this fall, on a chilly evening, I realized I had all the ingredients on hand to make Tourtiere but I didn’t want to make it with wheat flour – knowing that if I did, I would feel bloated, constipated and have joint pain for the next 4-5 days afterward. I decided I’d make a crust of sorts with coconut flour and I also decided to lighten up the carb load by using celery root instead of potatoes. And being the weirdo I am, I added a few cups of chopped kale to it too. Believe it or not, the kale blends right in with the strong spice flavors so don’t shy away if you are a meat pie fan and want to make it a little healthier. And the celery root is completely passable as potato!!
I went with just a crust on the bottom of this pie instead of the traditional top and bottom crust because in all honesty, I’m not the best “dough” person. I’m not super experienced in working with coconut flour or any other gluten free flour (let’s be honest – dough of any flour type fears me) and while I felt confident that I could make a pat in pan type of crust for this, I wasn’t so sure I could roll it out on top of the pie. I’m sure there is a way to do it but the first night I made it, it wasn’t going to happen. The second night I made this I tried to roll it out but I don’t think I moistened the flour enough – it might have worked had I added a second egg or some extra liquid. I’m sure there are bloggers out there who can come up with a much better pastry than me for this particular dish – a couple of google searches will probably take you to them. BUT, I have to say, the pie holds it’s shape pretty well without the second crust and the flavors all mimic the original pretty well.
No, celery root is not potato, no coconut flour is not wheat flour, and no kale isn’t extra pork or pork fat . . . but with these substitutions this is a dish that tastes like Christmas Eve without making me feel heavy and lethargic afterwards.
Try it and let me know what you think!
1 lb grass fed ground beef or
1/2 lb organic ground pork & 1/2 lb grass fed ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 large celery root / celeriac, peeled and chopped into small pieces
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
a pinch of ground allspice (or more)
1 head of kale, chopped finely (steamed if you like it very tender)
sea salt and black pepper
Crust (makes just one layer of crust)
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup coconut flour
generous pinch of salt
Put beef/pork, onion, celery root, water and bay leaf in a pot and simmer covered, stirring occasionally (to break up the meat and celery root) for 40 minutes, remove cover and let simmer for another 10 or until water is cooked off. Mash gently with potato masher if celery root isn’t completely broken up. While meat mixture is cooking, make your crust (fyi- this is just a one crust pie – different than traditional tourtiere).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt your coconut oil or use softened butter and mix into coconut flour. Add 1 egg and a pinch of salt and mix until well combined. If it seems very dry you can add a tbsp of water but it should resemble a thick dough. Transfer the dough to a pie plate and press out into the plate using your hands. You’ll need to press from the center and work out to the sides. Don’t be shy about pressing it firmly and working it up the plate – coconut oil firms up as it cools and the warmth from your hands will help it be more malleable.
Once you have it covering the pie plate, bake the crust for 10 minutes.
While the crust is baking, stir in cinnamon, cloves, allspice and (raw or steamed) kale into the celery root and meat mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Stir for a minute or two until kale wilts and then pour into the baked pie crust. Bake the pie at 400 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving. The longer you let it sit, the more firm it will be for serving. Serve with a tomato relish or ketchup (that’s how we ate it growing up!).
Note: Don’t be shy with this – the second time I made this I added mushrooms and dandelion greens instead of kale and it also blended in really well. What swaps can you make in some of your childhood favorites that might be more nutritious?