Recipes come from all kinds of unexpected places. I found this one in a swimming pool.
It was the first week of December, and I asked my swim team buddy Jane how her recent Thanksgiving holiday had gone. “Good!” she replied. “I put together my Turkey Dinner Pies and they’re all tucked in the freezer for January.”
“What? Explain this to me!” I demanded immediately.
“You just make a pie crust and put all your leftovers in it, then freeze it,” she replied, like it was no big deal.
“Wait, like meat and stuffing and gravy?”
“Yes, everything. Mashed potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce, all of it.”
My mind was blown.
Turns out Jane came up with the idea while living in Maine on a turkey farm. Every year, she’d make a 30-pound bird and enough sides to match, which often meant a huge pile of leftovers afterward. Her idea was to assemble them all into pies and freeze them for dinners throughout the year; an incredibly elegant solution for a busy mom. She’s been doing this for more than 30 years, and it’s now a tradition for her and her daughter to get together and make half a dozen Turkey Dinner Pies every Friday after Thanksgiving. Daughter Audrey handles pastry duties and Jane is chief of assembly.
I could not wait to try this. I made one, brought it to the test kitchen crew, and after finalizing the recipe we now get to share it with you.
Hot water pastry: easy, fast, and up to the task
You’ve likely had enough of complicated prep by the time Thanksgiving is over, so we put our pie in a simple, versatile hot water pastry crust. To make it, fat is melted in water, then poured over flour and salt for a crust that tastes great and is sturdy without being tough. It can hold every bit of your feast while being an absolute pleasure to work with. You could put herbs or spices in the dough if you wanted, for extra pizzazz.
If it was on the table, it’s in the pie
Ok, maybe not the dinner rolls, but yes, all of your leftovers go inside that crust, layered, like a geological formation of yumminess. Meat, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, vegetables, even the cranberry sauce. Once the top is put on and the edges are crimped, wrap your pies and put them in the freezer. You now have several amazing meals in the bank.
This all-in-one meal is a treasure when you know a hectic day is ahead. Thaw your pie in the refrigerator the night before. Pop it in the oven when you get home, and by the time everyone’s back from their events, dinner is ready.
Leftover leftovers? These are really good.
During the recipe testing process, our test kitchen team sampled our baked Turkey Dinner Pie cold from the fridge, and confessed to really, really liking it. If you think of it as a layered terrine en croûte, it makes sense.
Turkey Dinner Pie: a reward for your hard work
You’ve done all the work for the big Thanksgiving feast already; why not reap the dividends later? We hope you’ll give some hot water pastry a quick stir and make Jane’s Turkey Dinner Pie. You’ll have more than memories from the holiday to keep you warm.
Cover photo by Rick Holbrook.