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Friday, November 18, 2011

There will be leftovers

So…hello there.  Yes, I know…it’s been some time, hasn’t it?
I suppose it happens to everyone…
that annoying combination of too much to do, too many things to say and not enough time to say it. 

And then, there was the garden.  I’ll save that story of heartbreak for another time.

Summer’s over.  Clearly.
Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  And here we are.

I’m going to just pick right up and tell you about something I prepared last year with my turkey leftovers.  I plan to cook it again this year because we loved it so much.

I typically leave folks to fend for themselves on the Friday after.  Quite frankly, that Friday after the holiday I am tired of cooking.  There.  I have said it.  And I’m fairly certain it happens to the best of us.  So on the day after…there is plenty to go around for sandwiches, and Thanksgiving dinner plate recreations that everyone assembles on their own.

But, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving last year, I found myself with enough energy and interest to try my hand at a pot pie I saw in one of my old issues of Gourmet.  (Sigh.  It’s my back issues that sustain me now.  This was the 2007 November issue for those of you with similar libraries.  For those who have embraced iPads and laptops in the kitchen, here’s the link.)  It looked like a fine way to cook up what remained of the turkey before anyone could tire of it.

That Saturday, I poured myself a lovely glass of wine and started in on disassembling the carcass to make a stock.  (Making stock from the leftover bones leaves you with a virtuous feeling I highly recommend.)  The pot pie came out of the oven looking like a team of food stylists had been at it for hours.  The biscuit top was all mouth-wateringly golden with sightings of bubbling sauce below.  Sitting down to watch a movie and nibbling this creamy wonder was incredibly satisfying.  Maybe it was the fact that it was a ‘one-pot’ dish after a holiday that was all about a million sides.  But I think it was really the biscuit topping that had me from the start.  Crisp and beautifully browned on top, tender and flecked with grated Cheddar and Parmesan inside, it was the very definition of comfort food. 

So if you’re doing your shopping for the big holiday, pick up what you’ll need for the pot pie…(I don’t feel ready to set foot in a grocery store for at least several days after all the festivities.) and know that your leftovers never had it so good.

Turkey Potpie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2007
Serves 8

NOTE:   Three parts here folks – a super easy stock (or use pre-made chicken stock if you’ve tossed your carcass), the filling and the biscuit topping.

Make the Stock:
Carcass and skin from a 12-14 lb roasted bird*
10 cups water

*If your turkey was brined – omit the salt
Separate parts of the carcass and put the bones, the skin and water in a large stockpot.  Simmer until liquid is reduced by one third, about 1 ½ hours.  Strain into a large bowl and set aside 3 ½ cups for the filling – freeze the rest for another time.

Make the Filling:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large parsnip (peeled), cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ lb. mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups roast turkey meat, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 (10 oz.) package frozen baby peas, thawed

  Add mushrooms and cook, uncovered, stirring until tender, 5-7 minutes.
Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. 
Stir in stock (3 ½ cups), scraping up any brown bits, and bring to a boil, stirring, then simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. 
Stir in turkey, peas, and salt and pepper to taste. 
Reheat over low heat, and transfer mixture to a lasagna pan or large rectangular  (13 x 9) baking dish, just before topping with biscuit crust.

For the Biscuit Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¾ stick cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 ¼ cups well-shaken buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 F. with rack in middle.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper into a medium bowl.  Add cheeses and toss to coat.  Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add buttermilk and stir just until a dough forms.  Drop biscuit dough onto filling in 8 large mounds, leaving spaces between biscuits.

Bake until biscuits are puffed and golden brown and filling is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.