Author Notes: My mother is Canadian, and every Christmas Eve we would eat tourtière (pork pie) for Rèveillon following the midnight service. It was all great fun and excitement when I was little, but now that my siblings and I are all grown up and have little ones of our own, we are typically too pooped to go to midnight anything, so we attend the afternoon service and have an early dinner before filling stockings and collapsing into bed.
Somewhere along the way, two things occurred: (1) I started making the tortiere; and (2) we turned “dinner” into an appetizer extravaganza (I credit my sister-in-law). In a flash of inspiration one year (coupled with fatigue—I had a 5-month-old), I decided to forego making the butter pastry for the tourtière. Instead, I made handheld tarts with puff pastry. Over the years, my version had already strayed from Mom's in a few ways (within reason! My brother, in particular, gets queasy about notions of too much change at Christmas--the changes are subtle but significant, such as fennel in place of celery, bit of garlic, wine in place of water). The handheld puff pastry variant was a hit. (Side note: we still make traditional tourtière, just not on Christmas Eve! We have not abandoned the classic)
The only thing I (and everyone else—we are a very vocal family) didn’t like was the exposed top (tourtière typically has two-crusts, with pretty decorative dough cut-outs on top). Since we serve tourtière with chutney and relishes anyway, I made fresh apple “chutney” for another round of the tarts the following week for New Year’s Day. The family gave their thumbs up in between demolishing the tarts. These have become one of my favorite appetizers to make and share (I also make half-batches and serve for mid-winter dinners). Viva la cuisine Canadienne!
Makes 24 tarts
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms
- 3/4 cups finely chopped fennel bulb
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 2-sheet package (typically 17.3-oz) puff pastry, thawed
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 medium-large Fuji apple, cored, then chopped relatively fine (I don’t peel—I like the color)
- 1 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- Filling: In a large skillet, saute pork over medium-high heat, breaking up with fork, until no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes. Drain off fat. Add mushrooms, onions, fennel, wine, garlic, thyme, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a bubbly boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until almost no liquid remains, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat & let cool to room temperature (you can make this up to a day ahead; cool, then cover and chill)
- Fill & Bake Tarts: Preheat oven to 375°F. Unfold the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface. Cut the pastry sheet into 3 equal lengthwise strips along fold lines. Cut each pastry strip into 4 (about 2-1/2-inch) squares, making 24 in all. Press the pastry squares into 24 standard-size muffin-pan cups. Spoon about 2 tbsp pork filling into each pastry cup. Bake about 18-22 minutes or until the pastry is puffed & golden brown.
- Make Chutney: While tarts bake, whisk the vinegar, syrup, & mustard in a small bowl. Add the apple, parsley, shallots, and toss to combine. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Serve: Remove tarts from oven, then remove from tins; top each tart with a spoonful of chutney & serve warm. Makes 24 tarts.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Late Winter Tart (Sweet or Savory)