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Published: Saturday December 14, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday December 14, 2013 MYT 6:03:08 AM

Pot pie perfection

Comforting: In a creamy pot pie, roast turkey might actually taste better.

Comforting: In a creamy pot pie, roast turkey might actually taste better.

Turkey leftovers can be turned into delicious, creamy pot pie!

LEFTOVER festive turkey needn’t be an afterthought. In a creamy pot pie, bolstered with root vegetables, it might actually taste better than the original feast.

Now is when the menu changes, when pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil retires to also-ran status, when the prospect of gravy makes our mouth water.

Foods of fall and winter are all about comfort, about settling in, about spending a bit more time in the kitchen because the tennis nets at the park have been packed up for the season. It’s time for pot pie.

Time, that is, for really good pot pie – which some people have never experienced, if their experience is limited to grocery store freezer cases. Convenience is a contemporary argument, but there’s a tipping point between saving time and having a decent meal.

We’ve tipped in favour of making homemade pot pie, with a crust that’s both flaky and flexible, and a filling that you can customise to your heart’s content as long as you honour the final proportions.

Turkey is our protein of choice, because such leftovers are on the horizon. But with half-breasts more available, you can roast just enough turkey within an hour to make six pies. Swap in chicken, or go vegetarian with more of the pot-pie trinity: potatoes, carrots and peas. Experiment with other vegetables, such as turnips, rutabaga, pearl onions, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, corn or peppers.

We favour the classic trio, but add a twist and some texture with crumbled bacon.

We won’t lie: Pot pies from start to finish take a little time. The pastry comes together quickly, but must rest in the refrigerator for an hour.

The vegetables need to be par-cooked for a few minutes to make sure they’ll cook through in the oven. The gravy is best when you give the onions at least 15 minutes to melt into savoury goodness.

If you’re tempted to skip the egg glaze, don’t. It lends the pastry a luscious golden crackle, but also is oddly affirming. Taking the time to paint the whole surface of the pastry with care, instead of a slapdash splash across the top, is what cooking with love is all about.

Since you’ve come this far, cut a few leaf shapes from the dough scraps to make your pies even more appetising. Painting the leaves with a bit of paprika-tinted egg yolk takes about as long as reading this story, and guarantees an “ooh-ahh” reaction at the table that makes every minute worthwhile.

And this is before your diners have even taken a bite! – Star Tribune/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Bev’s Crust

Makes enough for 6 individual pot pies

This crust is from The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen. You’ll need only half for six individual pot pies, so freeze the remaining dough for a single-crust pie, or future pot pies. (The recipe also makes a 23cm to 25cm double-crust pie of any kind.) Pot pies may be assembled four hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until it’s time to bake.

2½ cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, cold, cut in 16 pieces

1 egg yolk

Generous ½ cup milk, or more if needed

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the larger remaining chunks are the size of small peas.

Drop the egg yolk into a liquid measuring cup and add milk until you reach exactly 2/3 cup (you’ll use about ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon). Mix the egg yolk and milk with a fork until combined, then add it to the flour mixture all at once. Mix the dough with a fork until you can gather most of it into a ball. This is most easily done in the bowl; if it seems any drier or more difficult than that, add another tablespoon of milk.

Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a 2.5cm-thick disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour and as long as two days. Let dough come to room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling it.

Turkey Pot Pie Filling

Makes enough for 6 individual pot pies

A roasted half-breast makes three to four cups of diced turkey. You can substitute with chicken, or use more vegetables, just making sure your total ingredients add up to six to seven cups. The bacon is optional, but a nice touch.

Add vegetables to the stock base and let them par-cook before baking. (Joel Koyama/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)
Par-cook the filling before using in the pie.

3 to 4 cups diced turkey, from leftover turkey or roasted half-breast

Vegetable oil

2 slices bacon (not thick-cut)

½ cup (125g) unsalted butter

1½ cup finely chopped yellow onion

4 cups chicken or turkey stock

1 cup small red potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes

1 cup carrot, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes

½ cup flour

1 ½ tsp salt

Freshly ground pepper

¼ cup heavy cream

1 cup frozen peas

½ cup chopped parsley leaves

Glaze

1 egg yolk

2 tsp heavy cream

½ tsp paprika

To prepare filling: If you’re roasting a half-breast of turkey, preheat oven to 170°C. Lightly rub turkey with oil and roast in shallow pan until temperature probe registers 76°C, 50-60 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones and cut into 2cm cubes. If not using immediately, keep refrigerated.

Cook bacon, if using, until crisp. Remove to paper towels to cool, then crumble.

In a large saucepan, melt butter, then add onion and sauté over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.

While the onions are cooking, heat the stock to just boiling. Add potatoes and carrots to the stock and cook for two to three minutes, until slightly tender. Turn off heat. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

Fill the ramekins to ready them for a dough topping. (Joel Koyama/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)
Assembling the pie is simple: fill the ramekin and cover with dough.

To the softened onions, add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes.

Add the hot stock to the onions and simmer until thick, stirring constantly, about one minute.

Stir in salt, pepper and ¼ cup heavy cream. Add turkey, potatoes, carrots, peas and parsley, stirring to mix well. Check for proper seasoning. Remove from heat.

To prepare glaze: In a small bowl, beat egg yolk with two teaspoons cream. Set aside.

To assemble pot pies: Divide the filling among six 250ml ovenproof ramekins or straight-sided dishes no more than 10cm wide. Divide crumbled bacon among the pies. (If there’s any leftover filling, serve it on toast!)

Remove crust dough from plastic wrap (remember: you took it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes ago), and place on lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 25cm by 40cm rectangle. With a knife or pizza cutter, cut six 13cm squares. (You can use the remaining pastry to make decorative leaves.)

With a small brush or your finger, brush the rim of each bowl with beaten egg yolk, then drape pastry over the filling, pressing gently on rim to seal.

Brush the entire surface of pastry with egg glaze.

With a sharp paring knife, cut small leaf shapes from the remaining dough, using the blade to press “veins” into the surface. Arrange two or three leaves on each pie. Stir paprika into the remaining egg glaze, then paint the leaves with this tinted mixture.

To bake: Preheat oven to 180°C. Place pies on a rimmed baking sheet; this will catch any possible drips. Bake in oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the filling is bubbling hot.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, pot pie, recipe, leftover turkey, pastry

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