[The] dinner party is a true proclamation of the abundance of being — a rebuke to the thrifty little idolatries by which we lose sight of the lavish hand that made us.
— Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection
Once again, we welcome the season of festive feasting! The sideboard and table are laden with the traditional offerings of herbed turkey and each special dish that makes your own holiday truly your own.
We are created for fellowship, for breaking bread together. We read in Acts that believers were attending temple day by day, “and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.” [Acts 2:46] Sharing a meal, whether the menu is thoughtfully considered and fussed over for days, or tossed together in a compilation of tasty leftovers, feeds the body, heart, and soul. And there are few things happier than a refrigerator full of sliced meats and assorted casseroles that provide instant snacking gratification.
If we travel back in history, savory meat pies were a popular way for cooks to use up spare meats and vegetables that had started to soften. The first pies were called ‘coffins,’ with the straight-sided crust and pastry lid serving as the pan enclosing the ingredients with the crust remaining uneaten! Over time, the pastry crust became an integral part of the dish, holding the fillings together. When cold, the potpie could be sliced and served as a portable meal during travels. Potpies have been on the ‘leftovers’ menu for centuries!
The one item that does seem to overstay its welcome is that leftover holiday turkey. A cold turkey sandwich is an option, but then we enter dangerous territory. Turkey soup? Perhaps, especially if you prepare it with the stock made from the bones. Turkey and gravy? Turkey tetrazzini? That is a foodie bridge too far. Personally, I think warmed up turkey loses a bit of its charm after a day.
A hearty, herb-y turkey pot pie is another matter entirely. Tender chunks of meat, a savory gravy, and crispy brown crust offer the perfect answer for finishing the leftovers. Added bonus, you can make stock from the bones and roasted skin to use for the filling. This recipe comes from a stack of family favorites, showing its worth with grease splotches of honor on the page.
You may have your own recipe for stock. If not, here is an easy method. Freeze what you don’t use for this recipe in plastic containers.
What you need:
Bones and roasted skin from the leftover turkey.
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 chopped onion
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1-2 tsp peppercorns or freshly ground pepper
1-2 tsp salt
2-3 dried bay leaves
Place the bones and skin in a large stock pot, add other ingredients and water to cover. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn to simmer for at least an hour. That will give you enough time to prep the rest of the ingredients for the potpie.
This recipe will make one large casserole or two smaller casseroles. Since the filling is already cooked and hot when you put it in the oven, the casserole size is a bit flexible.
What you need:
4 c. cubed turkey meat (or more, if you like!)
4 carrots, sliced
6 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
8 T butter
8 T flour
1 c. frozen peas
3 c. stock (from the recipe or boxed stock is fine)
1 c. milk
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1 package refrigerated pie crusts.
1 egg, beaten with a splash of water.
Heat oven to 375˚.
Melt the butter in a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the red potatoes and carrots and stir occasionally until the vegetables begin to turn golden and soft. Sprinkle with the flour and stir to cook for another minute or two. Gradually stir in the stock and milk, then simmer until thickened and bubbly. Add the herbs, salt, and pepper to taste. Gently add in the turkey and frozen peas, stirring to combine. Add a little additional stock if needed.
Pour into casserole(s). Place the pie crust over the top of the filling, tucking the dough around the insides of the dish and leaving the extra dough to drape over the edge. Brush top with egg wash, cut four vents in crust, and place on baking sheet. Bake 35-40 minutes until crust is golden brown.
I propose a toast to mirth; be merry!
— Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
The featured image is courtesy of Annie Nardone and used with her kind permission for Cultivating.
Annie Nardone is a flannel-clad, cowboy boot-shod adventurer who seldom travels with a map! Her passion is the reintegration of the arts and humanities with theology and Christian imagination. Annie holds a Masters Degree in Cultural Apologetics from HBU, is a founding member of The Society for Women of Letters, and is Managing Editor of The Cultivating Reader for Cultivating magazine. She also writes for Literary Life, and An Unexpected Journal. Annie resides in Florida with her Middle Earth-Narnia-Hogwarts-loving family, & her wild assemblage of cats.
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