Light Tourtière Lettuce Wraps

Temps des Fêtes 2011
food and drink

BY: Monda Rosenberg

Here’s a way to enjoy all the savoury super flavourful tastes of tourtière without indulging in rich pastry. Skip the pastry covering and let guests wrap the fragrant filling in lettuce leaves. You’ll not only add a fresh touch but will cut corners on prep and cooking time, without compromising on taste.This is a quick and inexpensive way to make enough for a large gathering, but it’s also easy to halve this recipe.

1 large leek or 1 finely chopped cooking onion
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
4 tsp (20 mL) dried sage leaves, crumbled
1 tbsp (15 mL) dried leaf thyme
1 tsp (5 mL) each of allspice and cinnamon
½ tsp (2 mL) nutmeg
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) chicken broth
1 lb (500 g) ground chicken
1 lb (500 g) ground pork or beef
2 bay leaves
1 cup (250 mL) diced carrots
1 cup (250 mL) diced celery
½ cup (125 mL) rolled oats

2 sliced green onions
2 heads Boston lettuce, preferably hydroponic, cored and leaves separated
Sauces such as hoisin, old-fashioned chili sauce and hot-garlic chili sauce (optional )

1 Trim root end from leek and any tough green portions of the outer leaves. Slice leek in half lengthwise. Fan out outer leaves and rinse under running water to remove grit. Finely chop both the green and white portions. You should have about 1½ cups(375 mL). Place a large wide saucepan over medium-low heat. Add butter. When melted, add leeks and sauté 5 minutes. Meanwhile, measure sage, thyme, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a small bowl. Blend together.

2 Add broth, chicken and pork to leeks. Evenly sprinkle with blended seasonings. Add bay leaves. Work meat with 2 forks to keep from clumping and to distribute seasonings. When liquid comes to a boil, turn heat just low enough to keep it barely simmering. Stir in diced carrots and celery.

3 Cover pan and simmer 20 minutes to develop flavour. Stir occasionally, breaking up meat.

4 After 20 minutes, remove bay leaves and stir in rolled oats. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes to thicken. (If making ahead, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.Then reheat in a saucepan or microwave, stirring often.)

5 To serve, spoon warm tourtière mixture into a large bowl and set on a platter. Sprinkle with green onions. Place lettuce leaves on the platter. Set out sauces in small bowls. Guests can spoon the tourtière into lettuce cups, then dot with the sauces of their choice.

Makes 6 cups (1.5 L) filling for 24 appetizers

What to Serve