Monday, January 3, 2011

Turkey Pot Pie

I'm not quite at the point yet where I despise my turkey leftovers... I hope you're not at that point yet either or this post will seem wholly unwelcome.

I can usually manage to eat one meal of turkey leftovers before I'm done with the traditional fare... the white meat, no matter how moist, continues to dry out. The potatoes go chalky. Buns stale. And the gravy runs out. At this point, I usually toss the remaining turkey into the freezer while I figure out what to do with the three pounds that remain.

Enter: Turkey Pot Pie. I figured that this was an easy-creamy-dreamy way to get rid of the last bit of turkey. I could freeze the pies for a time when my turkey-love returns. And I could cram these pies chock full of veg and feel virtuous about eating these leftovers... further justifying my breakfast of chocolate.

For the bechamel (this will make two cups of sauce):
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1 bay leaf
Sprinkling of nutmeg
Salt and pepper

For the pies:
Here is the ratio... You need 2 cups of bechamel for every 4 cups of "stuff." For me, that "stuff" consists of chopped turkey, corn, peas, carrots, celery, onions and some herbs. But you could also nicely include green beans, root vegetables or whatever else you like in your pies.

You can top with leftover mashed potatoes... or follow me with puff pastry (yep, I sure did grab a pack from the freezer section of my grocery store). 
1 egg

Let's get down to business...

Bechamel... or white sauce
Heat your oven to 350F. Meanwhile, melt the butter into a saucepan (a pan that can go into the oven and has a lid is needed here). Now, stir the flour into the butter. Cook together for about three or four minutes (on medium heat), allowing the flour and butter to brown slightly and develop all of that amazing nutty flavour. 

Slowly whisk in the milk. (I don't usually bother to warm the milk... but I do take it out of the fridge when I'm getting ready to cook, so it's closer to room than fridge temperature at this point.) Toss in the bay leaf. Stir often while the mixture thickens slightly.

Put your saucepan (lid on) into the oven and allow the bechamel to bake and bubble while you carry on with the rest of the pie ingredients (about 20 minutes).

I want to take some of the crunch out of any raw vegetables at this point but don't fuss too much beyond that.

Chop up your ingredients... again, for me, that means 1/2 small onion, 2 stalks of celery, about 15 mini carrots (that were leftover from a veggie plate), 1 can of corn niblets, 1 cup or so of frozen peas and a few tablespoons of chopped Italian parsley. Easy peasy. (For the amount of turkey that I had left plus this veg, I needed four cups of bechamel.)

Saute your onion and celery in a scant bit of butter and oil. Add your carrots to get rid of that raw crunch, then your niblets and peas (just enough to begin the warming). Then add in your turkey.

Bechamel... continued.
Pull your sauce from the oven and give it a stir. It should be nice and thick and creamy. Fish out the bay leaf and toss it. Sprinkle with nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. (Some people would insist on white pepper here... I don't have it, don't have room for another spice jar in my cupboard and am not so much of a purist, so I happily grind away with my black and mixed berry pepper.) 

Increase the oven temperature to 425 F (the temp required for the puff pastry to, well, puff). 

Back to pies...
Combine the bechamel with your pie filling. Then spoon this mixture into your casserole dish or ramekins. Another great trick here (from Momma R) is to buy those disposable metal/foil take-away containers (with the cardboard tops) or mini metal/foil loaf pans, then use those for your freezer pies. 

Cover the dish with the puff pastry (or potatoes) that you have cut to fit. If you are freezing the pies, you can do so at this point. 

If you're baking one or two now, then beat your egg and brush the surface of the pastry with the egg-wash to ensure that lovely golden top. Dig in... and enjoy turkey again!

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