If I say the word “turkey,” I won’t blame you for thinking of Thanksgiving, even though it is mid-May. We are so used to associating this bird with that holiday that most of us forget about it for the rest of the year.
This used to be the case at our house, unless you count the sliced turkey and cheese wraps that Adriana likes to take to school for lunch.
But a couple of Thanksgivings ago, I used turkey leftovers to make the Turkey Potpie With a Biscuit Crust from my friend Diane Morgan’s cookbook, “The Thanksgiving Table.” It is everything a good potpie should be: savory, comforting, rich, and yet, somehow, not heavy. Maybe it’s Diane’s fluffy biscuit dough. At any rate, we liked it so much, we knew it was destined to become more than a once-a-year tradition, especially because you can easily put it together for a weeknight dinner.
I have, on occasion, roasted a turkey breast to make this, but more often than not I buy a roasted half breast from Balducci’s. If you can’t find roast turkey breast, you can use rotisserie chicken instead.
I also mix the biscuit dough topping in my food processor, which makes quick work of that task. The rolled-out dough is draped right over the turkey-veggie filling, which, in turn, has been cooked in an oven-proof skillet (I use a well-seasoned cast iron one). The assembled pie is then popped in the oven for baking.
Diane’s recipe calls for adding diced carrots to the filling, and while I almost always cook fresh vegetables from scratch for dinner, there is something to be said for having a bag of frozen mixed vegetables on hand for those nights when I want to minimize chopping. Of course, you should feel free to substitute fresh seasonal vegetables for frozen ones. Right now, for example, you could use carrots, fresh peas and spring onions; just be sure to saute them for a few minutes to soften them first.
Which brings me to the other reason I love this recipe: It is easily adapted. Here is my basic version, which itself is an adaptation of Diane’s original one. Enjoy it now, but don’t forget about it. Come November, you’re going to need it for those turkey leftovers.
This recipe is adapted from one in “The Thanksgiving Table, by Diane Morgan (Chronicle, 2009). We make the potpie year-round. It takes well to variation, so feel free to change it to suit your family’s tastes. A well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet is the perfect vessel for this one-pot meal.
Serve with a Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine, from the Loire Valley, or a favorite California sauvignon blanc.
For the crust
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup regular or low-fat buttermilk
For the filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, cut into small dice (1/2 cup)
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and cut into quarters
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, such as a mix of carrots, peas, green beans and corn, defrosted
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth, heated
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 cups diced (skinless) roast turkey breast or rotisserie chicken breast
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon regular or low-fat milk, for brushing
For the crust: Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse to mix well. Distribute the butter around the bowl and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour in the buttermilk and process just until the dough begins to hold together.
Lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the work surface, then pat it into a 1/2-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.
For the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have ready an 8-cup baking dish about 2 inches deep, or use a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with 2-inch sides.
Combine the butter and oil in a 10-inch skillet (use the cast-iron skillet if you have it) over medium heat until the butter foams. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring a few times, until it begins to soften. Add the mushrooms; cook for about 5 minutes until they just begin to brown. Stir in the mixed vegetables and cook for 5 minutes, or until they are heated through.
Sprinkle in the flour, then stir to incorporate. Slowly stir in the broth; it should take 2 or 3 minutes to thicken and become smooth. Stir in the cream; once it begins to bubble at the edges, stir in the turkey and parsley. Let the mixture start to bubble, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.
Transfer the filling to a baking dish unless you have cooked it in the cast-iron skillet. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and set it on the lightly floured surface. Roll it out into a 10-inch round. Carefully place the dough round over the filling, centering it in the baking dish or skillet. Lightly press the edges of the dough against the sides. Brush the top of the dough with the milk. Use a sharp knife to cut 3 slits, each 2 inches long, in the center of the dough.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned. Serve immediately.
Domenica Marchetti is the author of the upcoming “The Glorious Pasta of Italy” (Chronicle, June 2011) as well as “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy” (Chronicle, 2006) and “Big Night In: More Than 100 Wonderful Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends Italian-Style” (Chronicle 2008). Her blog is at DomenicaCooks.com .