Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to enjoy happy moments with the ones you love. Family and friends gather together in celebration to give thanks to each other, appreciate life’s blessings, and to eat a bounty of delicious home cooked dishes. It is also an excellent time to explore in the kitchen and to try new recipes in addition to your traditional family dishes.
But after the celebration has ended and your guests have all gone home, the question always comes up… “What to do with all that leftover turkey?” It is always a challenge to determine what to do with leftovers after a large gathering, especially around the holidays. This time why not savor the celebration and use your turkey to create a delicious, classic dish with a twist? Turkey Pot Pie.
Try a new take on my homemade Chicken Pot Pie recipe adapted for your Thanksgiving leftovers. Just skip to step 3 in the instructions and substitute the chicken for your leftover turkey
This Turkey Pot Pie is a wonderful addition to your freezer, so if you get home late, you can have dinner ready in about 30 minutes. Freezer to microwave, microwave to oven, oven to table. Since it is full of mixed vegetables, it can really be a one-pot meal on nights when you just don’t have time to cook.
Store bought pie crust and frozen vegetables
This Chicken Pot Pie recipe uses a pie crust topping that you buy in the freezer case at the grocery store. Some crusts are slightly more healthy than others, for example, some are made with whole wheat but nearly all of them include palm oil, butter or lard. These fats are high in saturated fats, which is why they are solid at room temperature.
Generally I recommend that as much as possible you should avoid commercially processed foods. On this one, I’ll make an exception due to the food science behind how to make the perfect pie crust. Pie crusts, even those you make at home, will have a better texture and flakiness if a saturated fat is used. Saturated Fat is bad for your heart health, and in general should be avoided.
If you try to make a pie crust with canola oil or olive oil, the texture can be tough and unappealing. I do make crusts using various oils for certain things, but that is a topic for another day. You can also make them with a different type of topping, for example panko bread crumbs, or a soft doughy roll batter, but I’ve yet to find a solution to this problem. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.
An old fashioned “stirred” crust is another option to make at home
One homemade crust that I will sometimes use is a “stirred” crust that includes whole wheat flour, canola oil and skim milk. That is the type of
crust I sometimes make when I have time. It’s a very old, traditional recipe I originally learned from my mother, but is based on a version you can find in the classic Fannie Farmer Cookbook.
Make your pot pie in advance for a quick meal after a long day
Turkey or chicken pot pie is a dish that is super easy to make, freezes well, and at least in our house, never has any leftovers. So every once in a while I will make them, usually two at a time — one to serve and one to freeze.
This is also a tasty “comfort food” that is good to make when you are undergoing chemotherapy or other treatment for breast or other cancers. When you’ve been out at the doctor all day, the last thing you want to do when you get home is start cooking dinner. Having a homemade chicken pot pie in the freezer solves this problem if you make it in advance.
Bechamel, a mother sauce of French cuisine
The only slightly tricky part (not really) is making the white sauce (bechamel) that holds the whole thing together. Since white sauce is one of the “mother sauces” used in many, many French dishes, it’s not a bad idea to learn how to make it. It really only takes about 5-10 minutes to put together if you have the ingredients which are typically part of your basic pantry anyway.
If you follow a vegetarian diet, you can substitute firm tofu for the turkey or chicken
If you follow a vegetarian diet, or simply don’t eat chicken or turkey, try making this recipe without the chicken or turkey. If you’d like to add some additional protein to your pie, try cutting up cubes of firm tofu as a substitute.
In comparison, Tofu provides 10 grams of protein in a half cup, a half cup of chopped turkey provides about 20 grams of protein; and a half cup of chopped chicken provides around 16 grams of protein.