Thanksgiving leftovers and what to do with them are inevitable parts of the holiday. After going through the hassle of planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, serving and cleaning up, I do not want to eat the same meal all over again the next day. And I don’t do turkey sandwiches, either.
So, why not make a pie out of it all?
The challenge is not in the execution of the idea — Turkey Day leftover pie recipes abound. What’s tough is deciding the direction to go. One crust or two? Store-bought or homemade? Maybe a mashed potato topping? A stuffing bottom “crust”? White sauce with milk or broth — or both?
Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started, with recipes if you want them and prepared food tips if you don’t.
Step 1: Bottom crust: Yes or no?
A. Make a dough. My go-to recipe comes from Ashley English’s A Year of Pies, adapted for a food processor. This recipe makes one 9-inch pie crust. (Make a double batch if using a top crust.)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, frozen
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons ice water
1. Cut butter into cubes. Place butter, flour and salt in the chilled work bowl of a food processor with a chilled metal blade. Pulse to cut the butter into the flour; the mixture should look like coarse meal. Pulse in the ice water. Place the loose, crumbly dough on a cutting board or counter. Using the heel of your palm, work the flour-butter mixture together, pushing it into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Lightly flour work surface and rolling pin. Begin stretching and thinning the dough with a rolling pin, slowly rotating the dough every couple of passes to help it spread evenly. When desired size and thickness is reached, fold the dough loosely into fourths; position it in a 9-inch tart or pie pan. Unfold the dough and press gently into pan. Trim off excess dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch margin. Fold over or push the extra dough down to build the sides of the tart crust. Refrigerate, covered.
B. Buy a dough. You can find prepared dough sheets and preformed pie shells at supermarkets. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction for thawing, if necessary, and prep.
C. Make a stuffing “crust.” Take 3 cups of cooked stuffing (I had good results using a boxed stuffing), and mix with 3 tablespoons melted butter. Pulse in a food processor to achieve a crumblike consistency. Spoon the stuffing into your pie plate or tart pan, and spread to cover the bottom and sides, pressing firmly. Refrigerate, covered.
Cool too. Use a casserole or baking dish, and move on to the filling and topping.
Step 2: The filling
Gather ingredients. This recipe is very improvisational because it depends on what you have leftover and how much. Aim for about 4 cups chopped cooked turkey (you can also use chicken) and 3 cups chopped cooked vegetables. (I used carrots, parsnips, onions and sliced mushrooms.) Mix together in a bowl; set aside.
Make a white sauce. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium-heat. Cook 5 tablespoons flour in the butter until it turns golden-brown, stirring to prevent burning, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups leftover turkey stock, if you have it (no-salt chicken broth from the store if you don’t), and 1 cup whole milk. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Your sauce should have a medium-thick consistency. Remove from heat.
Assemble the pie. Toss the turkey and vegetables with the white sauce. (If you have leftover gravy, definitely use it here.) Pour filling into your pie crust or pan. Refrigerate, covered.
Step 3: Toppings
A. Pie crust. Make a double batch of pie dough in Step 1 if using a top crust. Divide in two, using half for the bottom and the other for the top. Arrange top crust atop the filling. Press gently to seal around the rim; cut slash marks into the top to allow steam to escape. If you like, brush on a simple egg wash (1 egg, beaten, mixed with 1 tablespoon water), so the crust takes on a golden hue while baking.
B. Mashed potato. Spread 4 cups of cooked mashed potato evenly over the pie. (Consider piping it on if you want a more finished look). Dot with butter.
Step 4: Bake
Bake the pie in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until heated through. Serve.