Cut the air vents on the crust with
star-shaped cookie cutters. Photo courtesy
Last month, chef Johnny Gnall suggested creative ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers. Today, he does the same with Christmas leftovers. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.
This past Thanksgiving, I got creative and turned my leftovers into dumplings: from turkey, to Brussels sprouts, to cranberry sauce, to some mascarpone leftover from making scrumptious mashed potatoes, I made sure all leftovers were represented, resulting in a delicious array of flavor combinations.
Now, what to do with the Christmas in the fridge? Make a delicious pot pie!
CHRISTMAS LEFTOVERS POT PIE
One dish with universal appeal is the classic turkey pot pie. You can substitute ham, lamb or whatever your holiday protein.
Pot pies are a refreshing and different way to turn leftovers into excitement. What might have seemed boring becomes nestled in a savory sauce beneath a savory, gold-brown crust.
MAKING THE PIE CRUST
Making the pie dough is pretty simple:
START with 1½ cups of all-purpose flour. I like to do a mix of whole wheat and white flours, about half and half, but the choice is yours.
ADD a heaping tablespoon each of salt and sugar, plus a couple of drops of apple cider vinegar.
MIX in ½ cup of chilled butter that has been coarsely grated on a box grater. Grating the butter makes it easier to incorporate into the flour without overworking.
ADD ice water, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together; then knead and form into a ball.
WRAP in plastic and chill for an hour, then remove and roll into a sheet roughly ¼ inch thick.
STRETCH the dough over a greased pie dish and cut around with a knife to fit the dish, gently pressing the dough flush against its surface to create your shell. Then collect the scraps, and re-roll to cut out the “lid” for your pie.
VENT the lid: Lightly puncture the top crust with a fork a few times or cut slits so that steam can escape while the pie bakes. Or, use a miniature cookie cutter to create decorative vents as in the photo.
BAKE for 10-15 minutes at 350°F just to get the shell dry, but not baked to golden-brown. Doing this will help the bottom crust stay dryer and crisper once it’s filled. Set the pre-baked shell aside to cool and the lid in the fridge until it’s time to use it.
MAKE THE FILLING
When it comes to making the filling for your pie, the goal is a moist, flavorful base, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to ingredients for filling.
Shredded or diced turkey, ham or lamb plus vegetables like peas or carrots are obvious choices. But you can think outside the box: Toss in a little bit of leftover green bean casserole. Or how about some stuffing for a little carb-on-carb lovin’?
Get creative in using up those dishes that always seem to sit in the fridge for the longest after the holidays.
I like the combination of Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes with a hit of cranberry sauce for a slightly lighter, vegetarian recipe.
All ingredients should be cut or torn into a small dice or similar size.
You can also make individual pot pies. Photo courtesy McCormick.
MAKE THE SAUCE
You need a sauce to bring everything together in your pot pie; the type is up to you.
I like to collect all the gelatinous drippings from the bottom of the turkey pan and use that as my sauce. With all the fat and collagen and gelatin that a slow-roasted turkey releases, often that roasting liquid can be all you need.
If you find your drippings to be on the thin side, you can strain them and make a basic velouté, which is what you make when drippings or stock are whisked into roux. For assistance making a roux, check out our tip on thickeners.
You can also whisk in some cream or milk instead of just stock, which is sort of a hybrid of velouté and béchamel. However you arrive at it, make sure you season your sauce well, as it provides the backdrop of flavor that brings your whole pie together.
COMBINE the sauce and leftovers. Pour the mixture into the pre-baked shell and top with the vented lid.
DRIZZLE with a thin stream of honey and a generous sprinkling of sea salt. If you have it, use flaked salt, like Maldon. The honey will caramelize as your pot pie bakes and create a beautiful pattern.
Don’t worry if your first pie isn’t perfect. You may need to scale up the dough recipe if you find that your shell or lid aren’t quite big enough, but this shouldn’t be a problem as the ingredients for crust are inexpensive.
Have fun and experiment with ingredients. You may create a new holiday leftovers classic!