The cipaille, an impressive meat pie from Quebec, is a showstopping centerpiece for a warming winter feast
meat pies from canada’s Quebec province, called tourtières, are thought of much like homemade pot roast is Stateside: a simple and satisfying dish for Sunday dinner, but one that can also anchor a celebration. While the humble tourtière reigns in Montreal, its country cousin, cipaille, is more dramatic. Cipaille’s deepdish pastry is filled with game meats and the flavors of medieval France: cinnamon, clove, allspice, and nutmeg. The origins of this imposing pie are murky: Some argue its Anglo nautical heritage, comparing it to early published recipes for “sea pie,” which was developed to feed a literal boatload of British sailors. Others claim that the name refers to the traditional six layers of pastry and meats, with roots in the court of Catherine de’ Medici.
Whatever its true origin, today the cipaille is indisputably a part of Quebec’s culinary fabric. This version, an elevated iteration developed by Martin Picard of Au Pied de Cochon in the early 2000s, is now made by chef Vincent Dion-lavallée at the restaurant group’s newest outpost, La Cabane d’à Côté. He needs plenty of advance notice: The pie takes six hours to bake. But if you’ve got that kind of time, assembling one at home is easy—at least once you’ve picked up all of the meats from the butcher.