Leftovers Makeover: Turning Christmas Dinner leftovers into Turkey Pot Pie


Nothing’s worse than cooking a huge  holiday meal and not knowing what to do with all the leftovers. For Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, that is exactly what happened. We had a ton of extra food, and even after feeding lots of friends and family over the course of several days, it just wouldn’t go away. I took one look at all the fresh veggies and the massive pile of turkey, and I decided to make pot pie.

Turkey Pot Pie

As a boy, if I wasn’t bringing my mom’s amazing dinner leftovers to school in a segmented covered plate,  I would usually go with a Pot Pie.  They were my go-to school lunch, and I could eat them several times a week. I was the envy of every kid at the lunch table, because all they had were cold sandwiches, fruit roll-ups, and Lunchables.

Until now, I still love Pot Pie; it is such a complete meal and the epitome of true comfort food.

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I am not much of a baker, so the ‘pie’ area of this savory dish has always thwarted me. When I cook I don’t really stick to a set recipe, and the measurements are dependent on how I feel about certain ingredients. I tend to “eyeball” things like cookie recipes and pancakes.  Big red flags for the bakers reading this. My solution to this issue is simple. My girlfriend bakes. Problem solved. One mention of my desire to make pot pie and she unloaded a ton of frozen dough for pie crust on the counter. 🙂

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I had some ideas how to make the filling, but I had never made pot pie before, so I went online and came across this simple recipe: Dad’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie on Allrecipes.com. Here I will paste the recipe below. I just used this as my guideline for what ‘makes’ a pot pie. But, as I mentioned before, I like to wing it, and I am pretty sure I only had about half of these things.

Dad’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie (AllRecipes.com)

  • 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 cups frozen green beans
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 4 cups cubed cooked turkey meat – light and dark meat mixed
  • 4 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. Place the peas and carrots, green beans, and celery into a saucepan; cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer over medium-low heat until the celery is tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander set in the sink, and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup of flour, salt, black pepper, celery seed, onion powder, and Italian seasoning; slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens. Remove from heat; stir the cooked vegetables and turkey meat into the filling until well combined.
  4. Fit 2 pie crusts into the bottom of 2 9-inch pie dishes. Spoon half the filling into each pie crust, then top each pie with another crust. Pinch and roll the top and bottom crusts together at the edge of each pie to seal, and cut several small slits into the top of the pies with a sharp knife to release steam.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. If the crusts are browning too quickly, cover the pies with aluminum foil after about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.”

So that seems like a pretty easy recipe and very approachable too. But, for starters, I never have bags of frozen vegetables. I had no peas, and all the green beans were used in a green bean casserole (no regrets).  As a matter of fact the only green vegetable I had on hand was broccoli. “Hmm broccoli, maybe I should just make a broccoli and cheese dish…” I thought to myself.

A few moments later. I was set on making Broccoli and Cheese Turkey Pot Pies.

A shot of my saute pan once everything was incorporated.
A shot of my saute pan once everything was incorporated.

 

I made several different sizes since it was my first time making them.
I made several different sizes since it was my first time making them.

 

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Broccoli and Cheese Turkey Pot Pie Recipe:

This is enough for two full 9 inch pies.

Ingredients:

  • Around 4-6 Cups Leftover Turkey ( Baked Chicken also works great)
  • 2  large  Carrots, About 1 1/2 cups worth
  • 3 Medium Red Onions, 1+ cup worth
  • 2 Cups Fresh Broccoli
  • 1 Cup of Celery
  • 1 1/2  Cups of Mushrooms
  •  Garlic, 1/2 head minced
  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 2/3 Cup AP Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 3/4 Cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1 1/3 Cups of Milk/Cream
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Bay Leaf 4+
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celery Seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Italian Seasoning: Equal Parts Oregano,                   Basil,Thyme, Rosemary, and a pinch of Red Pepper.

Instructions:

  1. Boil the broccoli in a large pot of water until it softens and turns bright green.
  2. In a hot stock pot place your carrots and celery.  Brown lightly then only cover with water. Reduce or cook off the water over high heat.
  3. While your veggies are boiling chop up the turkey meat and brown in a saute pan with a small dash of olive oil. Get it nice and brown then remove the meat from the pan. Don’t clean the pan, just save it, we can still use all that leftover flavor.
  4. Drain the carrot and celery and the broccoli once they are soft enough and set aside.
  5. In the turkey pan, saute onions in all the butter until softened then add fresh garlic.
  6. Slowly whisk in 2/3 cup of sifted flour, a little at a time, making sure no dry clumps form. Add the salt, black pepper, celery seed, onion powder, bay leaf, and Italian seasoning ( I didn’t have that on hand so I eye-balled about a tablespoon each of oregano, basil, thyme,rosemary, and a big pinch of red pepper ).
  7. Whisk in chicken broth and milk/cream and bring to a simmer until it gets thick. Then turn off the heat.
  8. Stir in all the vegetables, the turkey meat, and the cheese.
  9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. (My oven cooks hot, and I am in the Philippines, so for your oven, 425 may be better).
  10. Roll out your dough for the crusts using plenty of flour. I let my partner in crime handle this part, as I was just making a mess. But here  are  some tips I learned while watching:
    1. Cut the crust bigger than the  top of your pie dish so it covers completely and easily.
    2. Using a forks tines and pressing down, you can give the edge a pinched design.
    3. To make the decorative steam holes, carefully pierce with  a clean wet knife with a sharp point
    4. Gently brush a lightly beaten egg onto the crust to make it toasty brown.

My pies baked around 30 minutes at a temperature of 400 but everyone’s oven is different. Just keep an eye on the crust so it doesn’t burn. If the edges get dark before the top is done just wrap some foil around it or brush it with butter. This baking step is strictly for the crust since the filling was fully cooked when it went in the oven.

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Another alternative to an egg wash is a light amount of melted butter.

 

Don't add too much egg wash, or your crust will get very soggy.
Don’t add too much egg wash, or your crust will get very soggy.

Let these bad boys rest and cool. I was even happier eating these than I was eating the turkey for the original dinner. I really enjoyed the broccoli and the cheese addition and I can’t wait to make pot pie again. There is a South American version I have wanted to try my hand at for a while, so stay tuned!

Turkey Pot Pie
The little personal sized pies were great, but in retrospect, just make a full sized pie. Its easier to make and, who are we kidding, those little guys won’t last two bites.

 

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