Saturday, December 4, 2010

Turkey Pot Pie

I don't know about you but I had Thanksgiving leftovers for a week.  That's usually about how long it takes for us to either eat all that turkey and ham or just get sick to death of it.  I decided that the last bit of turkey was getting a little dry just hanging out in my fridge, so I needed a recipe that would add a little moisture and FINALLY use it all up, dang it!

 I hate to throw away perfectly good food.  Seems like such an irresponsible thing to do considering the time and money that went into acquiring it in the first place.  Also, I hate the idea of being so wasteful.  Those infomercials of starving children in third world countries did a real job on me when I was growing up.  Not to mention the fact that if one of those commercials came on TV while my mother was in the room she would instantly become someone else.  She got sad, stopped eating (if there was food nearby), and proceeded to make me feel deeply guilty for having so many toys, clothes, shoes, a bed, ducted heating and AC, clean water, clean fingernails, a father...   not on purpose, though.  I could just see it in her eyes.  She never actually said anything.  I guess one of the traits she passed on to me was a deep sense of empathy.  Or a guilty conscience? 

Wow!  Are you totally depressed now?!?  Sorry.  Really.  I guess, in some twisted way, part of what gets me in the holiday spirit is to reflect on how much worse life could be.  It really serves to remind me how good I have it.  And then I get to remembering how self-serving I've been all year and start making plans about how to divide my fortune amongst the needy.  I start purging my closets and my kids' toys.  I vow to use every morsel of food in my pantry before I will allow myself to go grocery shopping again.

And then about five minutes into it, I get over myself, thank God for his blessings, and start feeling happy again!  Whew!  No wonder the holidays are so stressful - its such and emotional roller coaster!

Now, let's eat!

Pie Crust is easy.  Make a few and store them in the freezer for your Christmas leftovers and other goodies.  Mix together the flour and salt.  Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or a fork.  Its ready when the mixture looks like course crumbs.

Add in the egg, mix together, then add the vinegar and water.  Use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to mix in the liquid so you don't get dough in your fingernails (I hate that feeling).  It needs to be able to hold together well but not be overly wet or sticky.  If you need to, add a few teaspoons of flour to absorb the moisture.  (This is enough dough for four individual crusts or two double crust pies. I divided the dough in half, put one in a plastic freezer bag for later and just used the other half for this recipe.)

Now put the dough in the fridge to firm up a bit while you make the filling.

Start by chopping up some celery, carrots, and onion (I always do the onions last and NOT until I am ready to drop them in the skillet immediately.  It saves my eyesight.).  Saute those in a skillet with some olive oil (or butter, but the holidays are hard enough on my thighs so I compensated). 

Then add some flour to the skillet and brown it for about a minute or two. 

Add in the chicken stock and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

As this is heating it will gradually get thicker.  If it's too thick you can thin it with some more stock or water.  Now is a good time to shred/chop your leftover turkey.  Mine was already shredded, but in rather large chunks.  I chopped it up a bit and added it to the veggie gravy. 

Now put your nose right over the skillet and inhale deeply.....Mmmmmm....that's good!  Let that gravy simmer on low for about five minutes just to make sure the herbs are incorporated nicely and the flavors are swirling around the whole skillet. 

Turn off the heat and add a few dollops of creme fraiche.  Stir it in until it's well incorporated.

Let me tell you about creme's my new favorite ingredient.  It's heavier than heavy cream.  Its got a texture similar to sour cream, but the flavor is significantly less tangy.  Its very rich and buttery, so you don't need much, but a lot lighter than regular butter. 

It's subtly sweet so its very versatile.  You can use it on fresh fruit with a little granola, on pancakes with fruit sauce, add it to bisque, there are so many ways to use it!

Now assemble your pie!  Your crust should be nice and chilled now, which makes it easier to work with.  Divide the dough in half.  One is the bottom crust, the other is the top crust (I'm sure you knew that).  Lightly flour a flat surface and roll your crust into a circle that is at least one inch larger than the pie dish you are baking in.  I used an 8 inch pie dish and got a nice not-too-thin, not-too-thick crust on the bottom and top.   

Here's a little trick I learned when working with pie crust.  When its all rolled out, sprinkle the top lightly with flour and rub some flour on your rolling pin, too.  Put the pin down on top of the pie crust at one end and slowly roll the crust around the pin. 

Pick up the dough wrapped pin and transfer the crust to the pie dish.  Slowly unroll the dough over the pie dish.  VIOLA!!  This keeps the dough from stretching when you move it and ensures proper placement in the dish so you don't have to fool with it a lot to get it to lay right. 

Add your filling and roll out the remaining dough for the top crust.  Add what ever edge effects you like and poke a few steam holes in the center.  This is a good time to let your grubby kids in on the fun.  (You can fix it after you send them off to wash their hands :)

You can add an egg wash, if you like, to make it shiny and brown.  I didn't.  I was rushing, as usual.  Bake for an hour.

Now watch it disappear!

Pie Crust Recipe
enough for 4 individual or 2 double pie crusts
3 c. flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. shortening
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. white vinegar
5 tbsp cold water

Combine flour and salt.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles course crumbs.  Mix in egg until mostly incorporated.  Add vinegar and water and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until thoroughly incorporated and dough holds together well.  It should not be overly wet or sticky.

Pot Pie Filling Recipe
enough for one 8 inch pie
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c each, carrots, celery, onions
2 tbsp flour
2 c. chicken broth/stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1 c. chopped/shredded turkey/chicken/ham
3 tbsp creme fraiche
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium or large skillet.  Saute carrots, celery and onions until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes.  Add flour to skillet and brown for about 1-2 minutes.  Add chicken broth/stock, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Allow it to come to a boil, mixing to ensure the flour does not stick to the skillet.  Lower to a simmer and add the meat.  Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat.  Add creme fraiche and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

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