Duck and Chicken Tourtière

From Geoff Last

2014 Jan/Feb

This recipe calls for uncooked duck and chicken, which get pre-cooked prior to assembling the tourtière. If they are a little underdone that is fine (duck should always be medium rare, and closer to rare for this recipe). If you use other cooked leftover meats you will want to dice them and add them to the cooked vegetable mixture. Chop all the vegetables into 1/4-inch dice for texture and even cooking. The pie crust should be made first and can be done the day before.


Pie crust:

  • 2-1/2 c. unbleached white flour
  • 1-1/2 sticks (3/4 c.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 c. cold lard
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 7 T. ice water


Blend together flour, butter, lard and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal, with the rest in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Drizzle the ice water evenly over and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in a food processor) until incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful: it should hold together without falling apart. If it doesn’t, add one more tablespoon of water, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated, continuing to test. (Do not overwork dough or it will become tough.)

Turn out onto a work surface, and with the heel of your hand, smear dough once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. With a pastry scraper gather dough and form it, rotating on work surface, into a smooth disk and divide into 2 portions, forming discs again. Make one portion larger than the other, about a 60/40 split. The larger disc will be the base crust. Wrap disks separately in plastic wrap and chill, until firm, at least 1 hour.



  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 boneless duck breasts, skin scored in a crosshatch pattern (try not to score the meat, just the skin)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 large yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb. ground chicken (or turkey), preferably dark meat
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 T. flour
  • 2 T. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 T. chopped fresh sage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T. buttermilk (or cream)


Warm the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet with steep sides (duck likes to splatter) and add the duck breasts, skin-side down. Sear them until the skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes, then flip them and cook for another two minutes. Remove the breasts from the pan and set aside. Duck breasts yield quite a bit of fat; leave about 3 T. in the pan and remove the rest (duck fat is excellent for roasting potatoes and keeps in the fridge for a month or more). When breasts are cool, remove the skin and chop the meat into rough 1/2-inch dice and set aside. I chop some of the skin up as well, but this is optional. The skin has a lot of flavour.

Add the onions to the same pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until lightly golden, then add the carrots and potatoes and cook over medium-low heat for about another 4 minutes. Add the ground chicken, breaking the meat up in the pan, and cook for a few minutes until no longer pink. Add the wine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cooking for a few minutes more to reduce wine slightly. Stir in flour and cook for another minute, then transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add duck, thyme and sage, and season with salt and pepper. The filling can be chilled until you’re ready to cook the tourtière.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Remove the larger portion of dough from the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface until it is large enough to fill a deep-dish pie dish with about an inch of overhang. Place in the pie dish and roll out the smaller portion of dough, keeping in mind that the filling will be mounded so it will need to be slightly larger than the pie dish diameter. Add the tourtière filling and cover with the top half of the pastry. Fold the overhang over, trimming where necessary, and seal the crust. Brush the tourtière with buttermilk and bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F. and bake for another 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes and serve.
Serves 6 to 8.

Wine: There are plenty of options. The duck adds richness and a slight gaminess to the dish. A syrah/shiraz would be a good match as would a New World pinot noir with some weight and lots of fruit behind it.

My choice – Ojai Santa Barbara Syrah 2010 – $36

Ojai wine maker and owner Adam Tolmach is one the pioneers along California’s south central coast and his wines are consistently excellent, displaying fine balance and vibrant fruit. This wine falls stylistically between Old and New World syrah, echoing flavours of the Rhone Valley – black pepper, garrigue – along with a hit of crushed berries and spice.