Comfort on a Cold Day
A potpie is comfort food at its finest, and a great way to use up leftover meat from your holiday feast. Here we’re using turkey, but you could easily substitute chicken or even beef. The real flavor key to a good old-fashioned turkey potpie is the stock, so we use homemade. If you don’t have homemade stock on hand, use the best you can buy–and be sure to use stock instead of broth for a richer, deeper flavor.
The “Real” Potpie: Biscuits or Pastry?
Our version of potpie is topped with homemade buttermilk biscuits, which is what people serve most frequently in our area and throughout New England. Don’t be confused — a potpie can also be baked in a double pastry crust, with the end product looking more like a dessert pie than a casserole. Neither one can lay claim to being the “real’ potpie – it’s simply a matter of preference and convenience. This is very typical of most comfort foods that have been adapted to suit regional American tastes and availability of ingredients.
Making a potpie takes a few steps and more time you if are starting with raw ingredients. When using from leftovers, it comes together more quickly. Seasoned cooks freeze leftover meat and stock in the quantities needed for potpie, so they are ready at hand when you have a craving for the comfort of this delicious, hearty dish. No matter how you approach it, the taste is well worth the time!
- 3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 ¼ cups)
- 1 onion, finely diced (1 cup)
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
- ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon sherry or Madeira
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups cooked turkey meat, cut into 1 ½-inch chunks
- ¾ cup frozen peas, defrosted
Making the Turkey Potpie
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the carrots and boil until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. In an 8-quart stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the sage and tarragon and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until fragrant about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the chopped onion mixture and cook for another minute, stirring to incorporate. Slowly add the stock and the sherry and continue cooking over medium heat until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Evenly spread the turkey, peas, and carrots into your favorite casserole dish or ceramic pie plate. Pour the onion mixture over the top and stir gently so that the turkey and vegetables are coated. Bake for 35 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling hot. Remove from the oven.
Top the potpie with the biscuit dough rounds (see recipe below), evenly covering the surface. Raise the temperature of the oven to 425 degrees and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the biscuits are golden brown.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
- ¾ cup cold buttermilk
Make the Biscuits
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add in the cold butter, piece by piece, and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender until the butter is the size of small peas. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and mix until everything just comes together.
Baker’s Time-Saving Trick — Using a box grater, grate the cold butter into the dry ingredients. The size of cold butter shreds is about right, allowing you to easily mix them into the flour mixture before adding the wet ingredients. It takes far less time than a pastry blender!
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over two or three times. Shape it into a rectangle about ¾ inch thick and cut out rounds (you should get 6 to 8), using a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter or inverted water glass.
Serves 6 to 8