Fix Me a Turkey Pot Pie
Oh, the leftovers. And what to do with them.
I tend to skip over recipes requiring x cups of cooked chicken or turkey. Frankly, I don’t typically have such a thing languishing in my refrigerator waiting to be used. And I’m just a bit resentful when a recipe is touted as “ready in 30 minutes or less”, but in reality it should say “you will spend the previous day cooking your chicken, rice, potatoes, whatever, so then the next night all you have to do is assemble it, and don’t we, the cookbook authors, look so very clever because the actual assembly only took 30 minutes”.
I mean, really – be honest. The recipe takes 30 minutes one day, and six hours the previous day.
One of the beautiful things about Thanksgiving, though, is that the leftovers are a built-in commodity. After all, a family the size of mine certainly can’t demolish a 14-pound turkey in the course of an evening (though we might give it a good old college try).
Following a fabulous, yet gut-splitting, meal with the family, my mother sent us on our way with a bunch of turkey and some pie. Upon arriving home, I immediately started rehashing all the recipes I normally shun.
Friday would be a day of rest, relaxation and football. We do not participate in “Black Friday”. (Did you know the term “Black Friday” was coined by the Philadelphia police in 1966 because the shopping frenzy caused numerous automobile accidents and altercations?)
But anyway, with all this glorious time on my hands, I decided to make a turkey pot pie, combining three different recipes from my arsenal. This would be my very first pot pie.
- Crust from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
- Additional tips from The Joy of Cooking
The Recipe: Turkey Pot Pie
Additional Menu Items: In reality, none. This puppy took up most of my afternoon, so as I was pulling it out of the oven, Chris suggested we just cut up a tomato and mix it with some leftover lettuce to form a “salad”.
Cooking It Up:
I was tempted to make the crust from BHG – one of my very first cookbooks, and a consistent go-to for good basic recipes. But, high on my recent success with her crepes, I decided to see what Julia had to offer.
Oh boy, I may have found the perfect crust.
It was flaky like my crust has never been flaky before. And it wasn’t about the ingredients – it was about the technique.
In the end, I learned a few things, so you’ll benefit here from my trial and error. But it was a gorgeous and delicious pot pie, and I think I did my mama’s amazing turkey proud!
Pie Crust (or, Pâte Brisée)
This recipe makes a 10-inch pie shell.
Because the crust is mixed with your fingertips, I recommend using a large bowl that’s slightly on the wider side. My hands cramped up because I didn’t have as much room to maneuver!
Place 3 TB vegetable shortening in the refrigerator to chill. Cut 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter into small pieces. Return the butter pieces to the refrigerator so they get very cold – or just stick them in the freezer for a few minutes.
Place 2 cups all-purpose flour (Julia says sifted, but sadly I’m very lazy about sifting) in your mixing bowl. Stir in 1/2 tsp salt and 2 pinches of sugar.
Add your chilled butter pieces and vegetable shortening. Toss gently so they’re just coated with the flour.
Now the fun part – you’re going to quickly rub the flour and fat together between your fingertips until the mixture is the consistency of oatmeal flakes. As Julia says, “Il faut mettre la main à la pâte!“, which I think means something like “You can use a pastry blender if you want, but it will be better if you can feel the dough with your hands”.
It is important to work rapidly during this step so the fat doesn’t get too warm. I was skeptical, but after a couple of minutes, I understood. I really COULD feel the dough doing what it was supposed to do, which doesn’t happen if you’re using a pastry blender, or two knives, to cut in the fat. Weird, yes, but very cool!
Dump 5 TB very cold water over the dough and start to moosh it together with your fingers to form a rough ball. If you need a little extra water, sprinkle up to 1 TB additional over the parts that aren’t sticking as well.
Your ball of dough should just hold together. It shouldn’t be too sticky.
Lightly flour a pastry board (or a wooden cutting board). Now it’s time for the fraisage, or the final blending of fat and flour. I’m not sure I did this quite properly, but it’s supposed to go something like this: Using the heel of your hand, give the dough ball a couple of good smears across the board. Gather it back into a mass and form it into a smooth round ball. Sprinkle with flour, wrap with wax paper and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, make the filling for the pot pie, as follows:
Turkey Pot Pie Filling:
The beauty of the pot pie is that you can use whatever vegetables you like. Here is my version:
Prepare about 10 oz frozen peas according to the package. Add 1 can corn kernels during the last minute of cooking, just to heat slightly. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a skillet on medium. Add 1 cup chopped onion, 4 thinly sliced or chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery stalks. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add to the bowl with the peas and corn, along with 2 to 3 cups of cubed cooked turkey (or chicken). I supposed you could also make this a more substantial vegetable pot pie by throwing in some cubed cooked potatoes instead of the meat.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan. While the butter is melting, bring 3/4 cup milk to a simmer in a small saucepan. Throw in a couple pieces of onion to add some flavor if you’d like.
Stir 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp dried sage, marjoram or thyme into the melted butter. Whisk well to blend; cook over low heat for about a minute. Don’t let the butter brown.
To the flour and butter mixture add 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth and the warm milk (add the milk through a strainer if you’ve used the onion pieces, and throw the onion pieces into your veggie bowl). Whisk constantly over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Pour sauce over turkey/vegetable mixture and stir well to coat.
Now it’s time to figure out what casserole dish you’re going to use. This is important for two reasons, as I discovered: (1) a shallow dish is better than a deep one, because you get a more luxurious crust to filling ratio, and (2) do not overfill your casserole because it WILL ooze out from under the crust and bubble onto the bottom of your oven. For the recipe above, I believe a 13 x 9 rectangular dish would work well. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way!
Assembling the Pot Pie:
Pour the filling into the casserole of your choice, and prepare to roll out your pie crust.
Lightly flour a pastry board or your clean, dry counter. Remove dough from refrigerator. If it’s too hard, Julia says, you can beat it with your rolling pin to soften it a bit. This, I’m embarrassed to admit, can be highly satisfying.
Starting in the center of the dough, roll outward in one direction to about an inch from the edge. Pick up the dough, and turn it slightly clockwise. Repeat the roll, and the turn, pressing together any areas that may start to crack. Continue until you have a relatively rectangular piece of dough that will fit over the top of your casserole with some extra.
Gently roll the dough upwards over your rolling pin, and slide it over the casserole. Tuck the edges under and flute them however you’d like. Cut a few decorative slits in the top to let the steam escape. Brush the top with beaten egg – this facilitates browning.
Bake at 400 until crust is done and filling is bubbly, about 40 minutes (though I recommend checking after 30).
And there, my friends, is how I still managed to spend all day making a dish that used leftover cooked poultry.
Until next time,
P.S. I am truly sorry for the heavy text and lack of photographs. This was definitely a dish to photograph…however, when I realized my camera had already devoured the batteries I put in it a week ago, and that I couldn’t find the replacements, I had to forgo the picture in the interest of eating. Better luck next time!