There is a general rule people follow when buying a raw turkey for Thanksgiving: You need about 1 pound of turkey per person if you are buying a whole bird (with bones), or one-half pound per person if you are buying a boneless breast or deboned and rolled turkey. But somehow, we always have leftovers. It could be because there are so many other savory options for the meal (stuffing, casseroles, or mashed potatoes and gravy) or the enormous amount of sweet options (pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, that weird gelatin thing, or the tube of cranberries).
Whatever the reason for leftovers, you can eat only so many turkey sandwiches. What are you going to do with the rest of the leftovers? This turkey potpie may not be the traditional dish, but it is delicious and it will help you utilize some of those other leftovers.
In addition to what you have carved from the turkey, there is quite a bit of leftover meat that most people neglect to remove. Wait until the carcass has cooled, and then check under the wings, along the back, under the thighs, under the wishbone, and along the ribs. These may not be huge pieces, but they will add to your total amount of turkey. If you have large pieces, cut them into smaller chunks.
Extra stuffing, green bean casserole and mashed potatoes make great filling ingredients; add in some gravy or a little extra cream of mushroom soup to moisten. Mix everything together, add some sautéed carrots and onions if you want to be an over-achiever, season, taste and it’s ready to go.
If you have the time and energy, make some pie dough. It is really easy (three parts flour, two parts fat, one part water — by weight), but if you have a house full of relatives, screaming kids or both, purchase some ready-made frozen pie crust when you are buying the rest of the ingredients for Thanksgiving. Take the pie crust out of the freezer a little while before you are ready to make the potpie. Mini pie shells also work great. Tip: If you have a lot of pies, bake the pies three-quarters of the way, let them cool, wrap them with plastic wrap and freeze for one to two months. Thaw fully in the refrigerator before cooking the rest of the way.
Leftover Turkey Potpie
About 1 pound of turkey, cut into quarter or dime-size chunks
1 to 2 cups stuffing, green bean casserole, fried onions or any other savory items
1 cup mashed potatoes
½ to 1 cup gravy, as needed
½ cup sautéed vegetables, if desired
Oil, salt, and pepper as needed
Egg Wash (1 egg plus ½ cup water)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the inside of a pie tin with pie crust or use premade pie crust in a tin. Heavily oil the inside of the pie crust to prevent the crust from getting soggy.
Separately mix together all of the cold filling ingredients with just a little bit of gravy in a bowl; season as needed and reserve. The mixture should be thick, but still pliable. If needed add an additional small amount of gravy.
Place filling mixture into the oiled pie crust (it should fill the space to just above the crust). Drizzle the top with more gravy. Lay the top pie crust over the filled pie. Cut the crust hanging over the side against the edge of the pie pan with the back of a knife, and crimp as desired. Pierce the top crust or cut slits for vents. Brush the top crust with egg wash, if desired, and place pie pan on a baking sheet (just in case you went overboard with the gravy) to catch any overflow. Place pie into preheated oven and bake at 350 for 35 to 50 minutes (20 to 40 minutes for mini pies), until the top becomes golden brown and the filling begins to boil. (Look for steam escaping through the vents.)
Remove potpie from the oven, place on a cooling rack, and let rest for 15 to 25 minutes. Cut and serve; drizzle with warm gravy if desired.
Brook Harlan is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He is a culinary arts instructor at the Columbia Area Career Center.