January 08, 2010

The Turkey Pot Pie


There might not be anything so treasured in my generational family as Thanksgiving left-overs. I may be overstating this, but I've seen an uncle count the hours until he could make a cold turkey sandwich following the big meal. I once participated in dividing a carcass so more than one pot of turkey soup could be made. And every year I carefully, carefully, dole out the remains in three lots with greedy eyes at what could be done if it were going to only one refrigerator. This year, I decided to think of the turkey as just a big chicken and roast another. The bird sat frozen until it looked like the opportune day was coming. It turned out to be the day we deChrismafied the house. It was a simple undertaking really, largely because the bird was the focus. I roasted this man with just celery, onion, apples and a lemon in the cavity and a little herbed butter under the skin. I didn't reserve the innards for gravy - I doctored the Trader Joe's boxed version. And I served the beast with a little stuffing, cranberry/orange relish (also from my Trader Joe's), boxed garlic mashed potatoes and a green salad.

The results we heart-warming. We had a memorable good-bye to the holiday and we had glorious left-overs. Everyone had turkey sandwiches for lunch Tuesday and Wednesday. One with stuffing and cranberry relish, even. And the soup stock occupied two big bowls - the gelled juices from the roasted bird and the soup stock from the simmered and simmered bones.
From the minute I put the roast in the oven a particular memory began to peck its way into my plans. I have this rich remembrance of a Saturday alone in my mom's kitchen when I was about 20 or so. I'd purchased GOURMET magazine (or it might have been Bon Appetite) with wonderful after Thanksgiving turkey ideas and set out to make the most wonderful deep dish turkey pot pie I'd ever heard of or tasted. And it was magnificent. Flavors, texture, comfort, parsley, sage and thyme, all in an old blue and white pie dish I can't seem to find at the moment. 
Finally today I was free to fly. Off to the computer I went to search for the recipe. I was stumped by what I found. No GOURMET recipe and nothing else that really reminded me in the least of The One. The perfect. None. I read and read. Through Food Network, All Recipes and Cooks. I took a quick spin through the JOY OF COOKING (gravy!) and finally I figured I'd have to conflate a couple to get close. I started with Cooks.com's version*, which really is quite good, and ended up with something a la moi (l'influence francais intentional).
It went a little like this: Melissa D'Arabian's crust (ah!), a minced onion with a couple of stalks of celery sweated in a bit of olive oil, chopped carrots and thawed frozen peas then a flour, butter and garlic roux (I cut the butter and flour in half - no deep dish here) with milk, salt, pepper, thyme and a pinch of cayenne. Load, bake @ 425.
My starving crew had to wait for the cooking and the cooling but oh, when the pie was open that crew began to sing. There was left over salad but not a crumb from the pie. My eldest was requesting we have this at least once a week, while my youngest was using a finger to get the last stitch of the sauce from the dish. Everything baked in a pie and into our new year's memories.

All from a thought of a big fat pie dish consuming the remainder of the turkey and perhaps the aromatic fragrance of something from the past.


*recipe: (http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1939,139167-233202,00.html)

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