Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Turkey Project (Turkey Pot Pies)

      Ah, leftovers.......My side (Jennifer's) of the family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve and my husband's (Scott) side of the family celebrates on Christmas Day.  The meals are actually pretty similar (turkey, ham, and a ton of delicious casseroles) and our family is always blessed to receive a large portion of  leftovers.  I roasted a huge twenty three pound turkey this year so we could have plenty of sandwich meat, but I was left with a whole lot more dark meat than white and my kids don't seem to care as much for this.  After visiting with my inlaws, we were also given two large freezer bags of turkey legs, wings, and mostly dark meat to take home.  I did not want to waste any of  it!  I made a plan to not only utilize the meat, but stock up our freezer with some fast and easy meals!  Remember, this can be done in PHASES for the busy mama.  You can substitute any of these ingredients for homemade!  You can also replace the meat with chicken or beef - just make sure your gravy or condensed soup compliments your meat choice.

You will need: 
Leftover turkey (you will need one cup of diced meat for each pie (I make these in two's, so that would be two cups for each pair)
Turkey gravy (1/2 to one cup per pie or one to two cups for each pair) 
You can also use a can of cream of chicken soup or whatever kind of cream soup you like for each pie.  Do not add liquid to the soup.
One large can of  Veg All veggies for every two pies or a small one for each pie.
Pie crusts in tins for bottoms
Rolled pie crusts for tops
Freezer bags
rolling pin
cookie cutters
large bowl
mixing spoon
large clean table
freezer space!

Phase One:  Sorting
            I put on an apron, gather all of my bags, trays etc. of turkey and sit down with three bowls and a trash can.  Bowl one is for white, sandwich meat.  Bowl two is for dark meat and pieces of white meat too small for sandwiches.  Bowl three is for two very fortunate doggies (skin, cartilage, and anything slimy!). The trash can is for bones.  This is actually pretty time consuming and messy since the legs and wings of the bird must be stripped of skin, meat, etc.  It is important to carefully look for bone that can hide in the cartilage pieces you want to throw into the dog bowl.  After this step, you can bag up your meat in separate freezer bags and refrigerate (or freeze), feed the pups, take out the trash and call it a day (or move on to phase two).
Phase Two:  Chopping
            The freezer bag of white sandwich meat is done and waiting in the lunchmeat drawer in the refrigerator for anyone who wants it.  Get out your cutting board, a sharp knife, and another bowl.  The dark meat  must be diced into small bite sized pieces for the pies.  This can be time consuming and messy depending on how much meat you have.  When you are finished, you may place your diced turkey into a freezer bag, freeze and wait until whenever you have the opportunity to continue or can afford the rest of the ingredients.  You can refrigerate if you plan to continue within a day or two, or move on to the next step.  The important thing is to get these steps done quickly so that the meat doesn't go bad and you waste a great opportunity!
Phase Three:  Gravy prep
             Hopefully you have some leftover gravy.  I picked up some extra packets (on sale for 99 cents) to multiply what was left.  I combined my leftover gravy (which was made from a combination of pan drippings, water, and my favorite envelope mixes) with extra drippings I had saved, water, and a couple more packets of gravy mix.  My large pot of gravy has been moved to a cold burner and is now cooling on the stove top.

McCormick makes a really great gravy mix.  Love the taste!
Phase Four:  Construction
             Place all pie shells and boxes of pie pastry on table to thaw a little.  Open one of your pie shell packs and place on counter.  In a large bowl, combine two cups of diced turkey, a large can of drained mixed vegetables (or blanched fresh, thawed out frozen, etc.) and 1 to 2 cups of gravy.  Mix and pour into two pie shells.  Move pies to another out of the way table, get two more pie shells and continue until all pie shells are filled.

These are generic, Food Lion pie crusts. 

Two cups of turkey go into the mixing bowl.

I drain the veggies.

Add to the turkey.

Add one cup of gravy and mix.  Add another if it looks too dry.

Divide mixture between two pie crusts.

             Unroll a pie pastry, place on top of filled pie, flute with fork, and trim edges.  Find a willing youngin' to roll out scraps and use cookie cutters to make fun shapes for the top while you work.  Cover all pies, top with shapes, make at least two slits in top and place into freezer bags.  Freeze for a convenient dinner at a later date. 

I am using the Wal-Mart generic rolled pie crust.  It is more pliable than Food Lion's.

Sealing the edges.

Trimming the excess.

My daughter, Hayden, rolling out the excess.

Cutting pieces for the top.
Placing the decorations on the top of the pies.  We don't want to waste that dough!
Making slits in the top.

Woo hoo!  Fourteen turkey pot pies for our freezer.  Whew!

              To prepare:  You can either thaw out the pie and bake at 350 degrees for thirty to forty minutes (until top is golden brown) or bake frozen for an hour to an hour an a half.

Sammy eating his first of three pieces.


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