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Hi, I'm Pam Mehnert

As Outpost's general manager, Pam's work keeps her at the office, in meetings, or in front of her computer more than a simple 40 hours each week. However, her passion as a foodie has driven her to take on this challenge for the culinary experience of...
Pam Mehnert

Week 31 - Say Yes To Turkey Leftovers

A Year of Inconvenience
For one year, I'm making everything from scratch and forgoing convenience foods. Join me on my journey! By Pam Mehnert on December 3, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! I’m guessing no one minds if I use the opportunity of the holiday to talk turkey.


I’m a big fan of turkey as a regular menu item in our household. Ground turkey is a great substitute for burgers, meatloaf, tacos, chili, or just about any recipe where you might typically use ground beef. Turkey breast is terrific marinated overnight and slow cooked on the grill, or oven-roasted and sliced up for sandwiches. Since starting my year of inconvenience, sliced turkey is a mainstay, as it’s easy to package up into sandwich servings and freeze for when I want it – and I don’t allow myself the convenience of packaged lunchmeats.


I recently did a cost comparison for myself of the difference in roasting my own turkey breast and buying the packaged turkey lunchmeat. I started with a turkey breast that weighed 1.72 pounds before cooking. After roasting, my yield was 15.5 ounces of meat, so I’m going to round that up to one pound for an easy comparison, which would make it a 58% yield. (Hang in there with me as I geek out a bit on this comparison because it is more economical to roast your own turkey breast.) I bought the turkey breast at a regular price-per-pound, not reduced for Thanksgiving, so I’m comparing the cost with the regular price of turkey lunchmeat at my co-op. Ounce per ounce, the turkey breast at a 58% yield cost me 48¢ per ounce, versus the 75¢ per ounce of roasted and sliced natural turkey breast. Besides the meat I also had a great carcass to freeze and use for soup stock later on.


Naturally, if we’re going to talk turkey and Thanksgiving then side dishes have to be part of the equation. One of the family favorites in my house came from a friend’s mom about 25 years ago, and today it continues to be a dish that gets passed around the table until everyone reaches food capacity. That dish is Heavenly Spinach. I submitted the recipe to one of my favorite recipe websites, 12 Tomatoes, and it won their Thanksgiving recipe contest for which I won a gift card to Williams Sonoma! You can check out that recipe here.



Finally, for me one of the best parts about turkey and Thanksgiving are the leftovers. While I know a lot of people who can’t wait to eat cold turkey from the refrigerator, or have a few meals of leftovers the remainder of the weekend – I like saving my turkey leftovers for future meals. I had some leftover turkey breast meat in the freezer last week and decided I had to have turkey potpie. I’ve never made this from scratch before – in fact I’ve never made pie dough before this recipe. Pie dough is one of those things that my sister Pat does best (she is an amazing baker) – so I was rather intimidated to try it myself. I heard from others that it’s easy for the dough to either get tough or completely fall apart as you’re trying to use it.


I want to thank both my Facebook fans and Simply Recipes for building my confidence in making my own dough, and what turned out to be really delicious potpie. While this was my first try at pie dough, it turned out perfectly. I think the key is to use a food processor and add only as much ice water as you need to get it to form a ball. Or I was just plain lucky!


I made the full recipe, we enjoyed the meal that night then froze the extra dough and filling separately for future meals. The addition of curry powder really adds some great flavor. However you enjoy your turkey, do enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with your friends, family, or late at night, privately, from your own refrigerator.


Leftover Curried Turkey Potpie

For the pie crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup (1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes)

1/3 cup vegetable shortening

3 to 4 tablespoons water


For the filling:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup diced onion

3 large carrots, sliced into coins

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 sweet potato, diced into ½ inch cubes

¾ cup frozen peas

2 cups or more leftover turkey meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 ½ cups chicken or turkey stock, made from scratch

1 ½ cups skim milk

½ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup dry sherry or white wine

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (I like lemon thyme)

2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 ½ teaspoons curry powder

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 egg beaten and mixed with 1 tablespoon water (for the egg wash)


If you’re making all the pies at once, you’ll need six-ten ounce ramekins total. Otherwise, make as many as you need for the meal. Remember you can freeze the filling and the piecrust separately to assemble the rest of the pies at another time.


First step is to prepare the piecrust dough. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and add the chilled butter cubes. Pulse a few times to combine. Now add the shortening and pulse a few more times until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal. With the food processor running, slowly add a tablespoon of ice water at a time until you dough begins to form a ball and is easy to handle. You may not need all of the water. Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap, form into a ball and then flatten the ball. Wrap up and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to two days) before rolling out.


While the dough is chilling, start your filling (cool, that rhymes). Using a very large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, celery and diced sweet potato. Cook the vegetables until the onions are translucent and the veggies begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Now add the flour and cook stirring constantly for about a minute. Whisk in the liquids, starting with the stock and then adding the milk. Turn down the flame to low and simmer the vegetables for another 10-15 minutes, stirring often. The sauce will slowly thicken as it cooks. Add the turkey, thyme, sherry or wine, peas, parsley, curry powder, salt and pepper, and mix well. Adjust any seasonings to your taste. The filling is ready, so time to roll out the crusts.


First, turn on the oven and heat to 400°.


Take the refrigerated dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about ¼ inch in thickness. Cut into six rounds that are slightly larger than the ramekins.


To assemble your pies: fill each ramekin with the filling and place one round of dough on the top. Fold the excess dough underneath itself and then use a fork to press the dough against the edge of the ramekin (sealing the pie crust). Use a pastry brush and brush on the egg wash. Cut a one-inch vent into the top of the pie.


Line a baking sheet with foil and set the pies onto it (they will bubble over some). Bake the pies at 400° for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let the pies sit about five minutes before serving.


A special thanks to Simply Recipes where I found the original recipe for chicken pot pies!


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