I've gotta admit, I'm not a huge fan of turkey, but I LOVE turkey pot pie and soup. It's the only reason I make it anymore for Thanksgiving. I also love a perfectly flaky pie crust!
I love the ritual of a thanksgiving turkey and thoroughly enjoy experimenting with the preparation and roasting of the bird. Typically I will always brine a turkey. The first time I ever brined one I was so blown away with the difference in the meat. It was oozing with juices and I have never till this day tasted a better one. That is why I decided not to brine this year. Every bird I have brined since has not lived up to that first experience! So I thought, lets do something different this year and go back to the basics.
I am a huge fan of the blog serious eats. After working with great Chefs over the years, I really admire the experimentation these guys do and boy have they got some winners! I never roast a rack of lamb, rib or tenderloin without reverse searing anymore and that is a huge thanks to serious eats. Life changing results!
So I paid their blog another visit to see if they are trying anything new out with turkey. As far as I'm concerned, turkey is a pain to cook. I never cook my turkey in a deep pan anymore, I figured that part out a while ago, however these guys are now experimenting with a pizza stone on the bottom rack, letting it heat up real hot and then placing the turkey pan on the pizza stone. The theory behind this is to make the legs and dark meat cook hotter and faster than the breasts. I loved this idea and decided to try this method this year.
While the turkey cooked well and looked great, the legs were not done at the same time as the breasts again. I actually just cut out the breasts and foiled the top half of the bird and put it back in the oven for another half an hour! We went ahead with the breast meat and saved the dark for my pies. I didn't take any photos and didn't really write down the details so I will try this method again and experiment a bit further with it another time. But this article was supposed to be about the pies!
Best Turkey Pot Pies
I have to say, I will be going back to brining my turkey again. I was very disappointed in the flavour of the meat, especially the dark meat. The white meat was wonderfully juicy because I took it out at 150. Not a disappointment but the dark meat was not great.
I actually didn't make enough filling to fill 2 pies which ended up being a pain but a blessing because my first filling was uneventful! It was lacking flavour and that was because I didn't brine the turkey. When brining, the turkey absorbs all of the wonderful flavours you include in the brine as well as the sugar resulting in a subtly sweet, herbaceous meat. You may think "sweet turkey" sounds very off putting however it will change your life. Think about the thousands of people who cannot live without cranberry sauce and their turkey. It works!
So I was left to make another filling, this time making up for the fact that I did not end up with the beautifully flavoured brined turkey meat to create my favourite pie. The benefit here is that if you do not have the time to brine your bird, you can still have an amazing pie by adding a bit of brown sugar and a handful of dried cranberries. Make sure to let that roux get a bit dark. Delicious!
Ingredients (makes one pie)
2 cups diced left over turkey
1 small onion
1 rib of celery
1 cup frozen veg or left over diced veg
1/3 cup flour (may not need this much)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1/4 cup of diced dried cranberries
1 cup of warm turkey stock or left over gravy (use what you need to preferred thickness)
Heat a fry pan to med-high and add cooking oil. Add onions and celery to pan and sweat them out for 5 minutes until soft. Add dried sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Then add frozen veg, turkey and cranberries and sprinkle with sugar. Combine and heat for a few minutes.
Then add butter and sprinkle flour over the mixture to make your roux. You may not need all of the flour so add what you need to thicken it.
This is where you want to be a bit patient and it is well worth it. Let the mixture cook a bit, giving the flour a chance to do its' magic! You want to see it caramelize a little and see crispy bits on the bottom of the pan, then slowly start adding your stock. If you have a bit of left over gravy add that too. Let it thicken and stop when you reach a nice creamy texture.
**If you have brined your bird, you won't need sugar and hopefully you have some of your amazing left over gravy to add to the pie. It will take your pie to the next level.
Let the mixture cool down before placing in pie shell.
How to cook a meat pie from frozen
These freeze so well! If you have access to a Foodsaver then bonus. It will last longer. To cook from frozen, simply unwrap and brush pie with egg wash. Place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for approximately 50 minutes. Keep an eye on it and take it out when crust is a deep, golden brown.
What is the best temperature to cook a fresh meat pie
When cooking a freshly made pie, simply brush with egg wash and place in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for approximately 25 minutes. Keep an eye on it and take out of the oven when crust is a deep, golden brown.