Monday night, my darling spouse reminded me that we still had 2 packages of Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer. I loved archaeology as a kid and don’t mind excavating in the freezer – even if it means carbon dating an unmarked package before attempting to identify its contents. But he is much more persnickety than I am about such matters. I took his comment as a gentle hint that “we” should find a way to use said turkey before my own mother and the USDA would tell me to throw it out.
The weather forecast called for a light dusting of snow as I pondered how to use the turkey slices. With cold air outside and the oven, at the ready, I yearned for baked comfort food. Then it hit me – turkey pot pie! I don't think I've had a pot pie since the days when Swanson TV dinners were the order of the day, but a homemade version sounded like a plan.
I decided to use only ingredients on hand. Luckily, I had puff pastry in the freezer, so I didn’t have to think about making a homemade crust. By the way, if you want to get technical, according to my husband and Wikipedia, this isn't a true pot pie because it doesn't have a bottom crust. But hey, if that's your only complaint (as it was my husband's while he gobbled up all of his portion), then I'll consider the recipe a success.
Frozen puff pastry is great stuff. It comes in sheets or in rounds. For this recipe, buy the sheets. They come 2 to a package and you’ll only need ½ of 1 sheet. You'll be able to keep the rest (frozen) for another recipe or for another batch of pot pies.
I used individual 13 ounce soup bowls that are oven-safe. Mine are 3’ high x 4- 4 ½ “ deep. This recipe fit those bowls perfectly. Ramekins of that size would work too. If you don’t have individual oven-safe bowls or ramekins, you can use a pie plate. Pie plates are measured by their diameter and typically come in 8” and 9” sizes. Note: If using a pie plate, cover the entire plate with all or part of an entire puff pastry sheet.
You can make this pot pie with leftover chicken instead of turkey. In fact, it would be a great way to use up the ends of a roast chicken. Changing the types of vegetables or adding others would be fine too, though you probably want at least ½ cup of onions or leeks.
Turkey Pot Pie
Servings – 2
Cost – $7.62 / $3.81 per serving (if you have to buy meat)
- 2 cups of mixed “hard veggies” such as carrot, celery, onion, potato and green beans – cut into very small pieces, approximately the size of the peas. Use at least ½ cup of onion or leeks.
- ¼ cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + bit more to oil bowls
- 1 cup of cooked turkey, cut into small cubes
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ⅔ cup milk + bit extra for coating the puff pastry
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional)
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers as you add it to sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ of 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted. Check above if using pie plate instead of bowls.
- Cutting board
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring spoons
- 2 cup microwave-safe liquid cup measure
- 1 cup and ¼ cup measuring cups for solids
- Vegetable peeler
- Large pan
- Medium sized bowl for mixing
- 2 individual oven-safe soup bowls or 8” pie plate
- Defrost 1 puff pastry sheet enough to unfold it. (It comes folded in thirds.) Cut it in half and cut one half into halves. Set those 2 quarters aside and put the rest back in the freezer.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Grease the bottom and sides of the soup bowls with a bit of oil, spread with your fingers or a paper towel.
- Measure the broth, milk, and sherry into the liquid measuring cup and set aside.
- Chop the vegetables (other than the peas.) I added a few peas in the picture below, so you can see how the size pieces to aim for. No need to get obsessive, but if they are close to the same size, the vegetables will cook at the same rate and look nice mixed together.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan, then add the cups of vegetables, cooking them for about 10 minutes on a medium-low heat, until softened. Do not allow vegetables to brown.
- Add the cubed turkey and cook about 5 more minutes, until the turkey is heated. When done, move the vegetables and turkey to the mixing bowl.
- Microwave the broth, milk, and sherry mixture for 2 minutes or so on high, until quite hot, but not boiling. (This liquid must be hot when added to the butter/flour mixture.)
- Melt the butter in the pan. (If the pan has pieces of vegetables or meat stuck to it, remove them with a paper towel or clean the pan between steps.) After the butter is warmed, add the flour and cook under a low-medium heat, stirring for about 5 minutes.
The butter and flour will thicken the liquid and you won't be able to taste the flour as long as you give them time to mix and cook before adding the liquid. This equal-parts-butter-and-flour mixture is called a "roux." It is the basis for many gravies and sauces.
- Slowly add the hot liquid to the butter/flour mixture, stirring almost constantly until all the liquid is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
Continue cooking at a low simmer until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spoon.
- Pour the mixture over the vegetables/turkey, add parsley, salt and pepper (I didn’t use any salt because boxed or canned broth is salty enough for me) and crushed, dried thyme.
- Mix together and pour into the bowls. Put the puff pastry squares on top, press the sides down and gently brush the tops with a bit of milk, using a brush (not pictured) or a paper towel. I slit the tops gently once to let air out, but I’m not sure that is necessary.
- Place the bowls on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.