Turkey pot pie is a great way to turn your Thanksgiving leftovers into a delicious meal. Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver

Thanksgiving’s glorious leftovers easily become some of the year’s most delicious, satisfying meals. I make myself very happy with turkey sandwiches for a couple days, and fried patties of mashed potatoes with eggs on them for breakfast. Cooked squash becomes rich soup with coconut milk and Thai curry paste added. And how about a turkey pot pie?

Pot pie variations abound. Apparently pot pies can have a biscuit topping, tidy rounds of biscuits, large or small, cut from dough seasoned up with parsley, cheese, pepper and what have you. Or you can spread the biscuit mixture over all the turkey and gravy and vegetables in a casserole. Puff pastry works and since you can buy it premade, it is elegance in a cinch. You can also turn to plain old pie crust just like the kind you use for your other Thanksgiving pies.

I only need a crust on the top, so no soggy bottoms on pot pies. Soggy is why I prefer pastry over biscuits. If you belong to the dumpling school of thought, the doughy underside of a biscuit pot pie lid will appeal.

I like my pot pie deep, but not as deep as my average casserole dish. Most pie plates are too shallow. My 10-inch cast iron skillet is just the ticket. In it, I soften up onions, carrots and celery in butter and olive oil, add the turkey and gravy, add peas, corn or both, give it a stir, lay the pastry over the top and put it in the oven.

If you are utterly sick of cooking by the day after Thanksgiving, short cuts like pre-made pie crust, gravy in a can, canned soups as sauce or sauce kits of various kinds can ease your leftover turkey into another meal without much required.

Otherwise, what follows is a serviceable recipe that can sop up leftover turkey, gravy, peas or any other vegetables that fit into pie. When you make pastry for your apple or pumpkin pie, make a little extra and freeze it for turkey pot pie. In fact, if you freeze leftover turkey and gravy, you can make pot pie a week or more later when turkey doesn’t seem like too much of a good thing.        

Feel free to jazz this up, too, by adding your favorite seasonings. Curry would be good, with chutney on the side. Leave out the peas and add corn and taco seasonings. Use shallots instead of onions. Add garlic, tarragon and thyme plus white wine in the gravy.

This year I’m thankful for you readers, all the terrific letters you send with recipes in them, and the fact that I’ll have leftover turkey.

Turkey pot pie

Yields one 10-inch pie; serves six

Pastry sufficient for a 10-inch diameter crust

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 rib of celery, diced

1 medium carrot, diced

1 medium onion, diced

4-5 cups bite-sized turkey pieces

1 ½ to 2 cups turkey gravy or white sauce

1 cup peas or your choice of vegetables

Chicken broth, white wine or water, as needed

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the butter with the olive oil in the bottom of your skillet, and add the celery, carrot and onion. Stir and cook until the vegetables soften.

Stir in the turkey pieces and gravy and add the peas or other choice vegetables. Combine and stir over the heat adding a little chicken broth, wine or water to make enough gravy to moisten the other ingredients.

Take the skillet off the heat and let it cool enough to touch it.

Lay the pastry over the top and crimp it to the edges of the skillet then slash it in a few places.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the contents are bubbling and the pastry is golden.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...