Remember that big holiday back in November? The one where everyone at your table ate their fill but there was still plenty of food leftover at the end of the meal? I love Thanksgiving for many reasons and leftovers rank right up there at the top of the list. But why am I talking about Thanksgiving leftovers nearly four months after the holiday? Because I’ve recently been enjoying what I made from them and have had tucked away in my freezer.
Although spring is creeping closer, Seattle’s weather has turned windy and chilly the last couple of weeks. Several of the surrounding areas woke to a few inches of snow this morning. It’s been the perfect weather for enjoying the little turkey pot pies I assembled and froze last November.
You can pull these together in several ways using a variety of ingredients; making one large pie or several small; making a two crust pie or a single crust for the top of the pie; using leftovers or all “new” ingredients. Sometimes my leftovers are a little slim in one area – maybe the vegetables – and I supplement with whatever else is in the pantry. I prefer a single crust pie and small, individual size pies, so that’s what I’ll show you but feel free to change it up. Here’s the basic idea.
Portions and ingredients are really up to you. There are a couple of required ingredients but all the rest is your choice.
You’ll need pie dough. Make your favorite recipe and keep it chilled until you have assembled the pot pies. If you don’t have a favorite recipe you can use the Julia Child Pâte Brisée Sucrée or something like this tart shell.
You’ll also need gravy. If there isn’t any leftover or it’s not much you can supplement it or make a pseudo-gravy by mixing up a little roux, then adding chicken stock until you have a thick but not pasty sauce and then salt and pepper, to taste. If you have leftover gravy you can mix them together or just use the sauce on its own.
When you are cleaning the turkey carcass you end up with lots of small pieces of turkey. That’s what I use for the pot pies. I prefer the dark meat, but white is fine. Make sure the pieces are no larger than bite-size. (Or use leftover chicken or beef or…..)
Take an inventory of the rest of what you have and if you plan to include it, make sure it’s also cut into bite-size pieces. If you are low on something like vegetables you can use frozen corn or peas; or slice, cut and partially cook a few carrots.
Line up a few ramekins or other small freezer-to-oven safe bowls.
Start with a thin layer of mashed potatoes or stuffing. Add a layer of turkey and then some vegetables. Once your ramekin is fairly full, add three or four tablespoons of gravy on top of everything else. You don’t need to mix it in as it will melt down through the layers when you bake the pot pie. The total amount of gravy is personal choice – some people like a lot, some prefer just to moisten the other ingredients. In the photo above you can see this pot pie was a little on the dry side. I think the stuffing on the bottom absorbed more than I’d expected but it was still good.
Once you have the ingredients in all the dishes, it’s time to roll out the top crust. Note how many ramekins you have and their dimensions to calculate what shape and size to roll the crust. I can generally get about 6 four-inch crusts from a single pie crust. I’ll roll it out to a 8.5″x13″ rectangle, then use one of the ramekins as a guide to cut out the individual crusts. Make a few steam vents in the top of the crust before placing on the filling.
Once the crust is on the pie anchor it firmly to the sides of the dish to keep your crust from shrinking when baked. With your fingers firmly press the dough to the sides of the dish.
At this point you can pop the pie(s) into the oven or prepare them for the freezer. Wrap each ramekin completely in plastic wrap, sealing the wrap well and then cover the dish with aluminum foil. I write what’s in the dish on the foil, along with the date so it’s easy to track. Then into the freezer they go.
To bake them, pre-heat the oven to 425ºF. Once the oven is heated, pull the ramekin(s) from the freezer, remove the foil and plastic wrap and place in the oven. The small pot pies take about 30 minutes to bake. A full-sized pie will probably take 45 – 60 minutes. It depends on what you actually packed your pie with and how many of them go into the oven at once. When the crust is dark, golden-brown, and steam is rising from the vents in the crust your pie will be ready to eat! If your full-size pie seems to be getting too brown but the steam is not yet rising, cover the pie loosely with foil to keep the crust from burning.