Stuffed Crust

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.

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