I hosted my first Thanksgiving when I was just a junior in college. My grandparents, parents, cousins, and more all gathered at my little ramshackle rental house in Austin’s historic Hyde Park and my dad and I planned the menu down to the last detail. Helping cook whole holiday meals was nothing new, but working in my new kitchen was. Thankfully it was the best – and biggest – part of the house. I had acquired bits and pieces of what I considered a “grown up’s kitchen” over the years and made it my mission to put my measly pay checks towards quality spices rather than sub par mixed drinks downtown – it helped that I didn’t turn 21 until the next year anyways.
My dad and I woke up early that Thanksgiving morning, put the turkey in the oven with the hopes of eating around noon, and left for a long walk. Most everything else had been prepared the day before – the pies were nestled in the belly of my kayak that I kept in the laundry room next to the kitchen – the turkey was one of the last items on our to-do list. We came back from our walk and decided to peek in on our turkey, expecting to tuck it back in for at least another hour or so, when we realized it was perfectly done. The house was still fast asleep as the scent of sage-stuffed bird filled the space. We snuck a few bites, covered up the evidence with a well placed lemon slice, and covered the whole thing with foil to keep warm. We still aren’t sure what happened that year: perhaps my rental kitchen oven was much better quality than originally thought or maybe my grandmother questioned our roasting skills and replaced the bird with a fully cooked one while we were out. We will never know. One thing’s for sure, we definitely could have served Thanksgiving breakfast that year instead of dinner.
Plenty of people have warned me about an unavoidable inability or sheer apathy towards cooking after having a baby. And while I’ve not been baking fresh biscuits every morning since bringing Avery home, I’ve certainly eased my way back into a normal kitchen routine. Some people swore that Thanksgiving would be the last thing on my mind at this point, and, while I’m perfectly content to stare at Avery’s little toes all day, I also can’t get cranberries and mashed potatoes out of my head. I have a feeling Avery will forgive me once she has her own first taste of roasted turkey.
Since I knew this Thanksgiving would be a bit different, I decided to cure my turkey cravings early and easily with a pared down version of the holiday all baked into a single skillet: the Thanksgiving leftovers pot pie. The beauty of this pot pie is that it can be made with actual Thanksgiving leftovers and a few other quickly prepped ingredients or it can be made from scratch. But I think we can all agree that leftovers are the way to win this dish.
The recipe is quite easy: where it calls for turkey, just use leftover roast turkey. If you are making it from scratch, simply cook a smaller amount of turkey – such as the juicy tenderloin – and cut into pieces. Green beans can be spooned straight from the casserole dish and the mashed sweet potatoes easily fold into the biscuit dough – be sure to leave those cloying marshmallows behind though. And if you go scratch, simply blanch the beans and bake the potatoes. A bit more work in the end, but it’ll taste just like the holidays all over again.
Thanksgiving leftovers pot pie with sweet potato biscuit crust
serves 4 to 6
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
1 big sprig fresh sage, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 1/2 cups cooked turkey, shredded or cut into small pieces — or 10 oz. turkey tenderloin, baked until cooked through and cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups cooked green beans, cut into small pieces — or 2 cups fresh green beans, blanched and cut into small pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 3/4 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup mashed sweet potatos — or 2 medium sweet potatoes, roasted, peeled, and mashed
1/3 cup milk
Set the oven to 425.
Set a large cast-iron skillet set over medium-high heat and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic, carrot, celery, and onion and saute for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the sage and white pepper cook for a minute more. Add the pat of butter to the middle of the pan and stir to coat the vegetables. Working quickly, sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to create a roux, cooking until the flour is completely coated in butter and begins to smell toasted. While continuously whisking or stirring, add the stock. Continue to stir until a thick gravy forms and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the turkey and green beans and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and soda, stirring to combine. Add the butter, cutting it into the flour with your finger tips until the pieces are no larger than small peas. Make a well in the mixture, add the sweet potato puree, and fold together with a wooden spoon. Add the milk, stirring until a smooth dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your fingers, gingerly pat the dough flat to about 1/2-inch thick. Cut biscuits from the dough using a biscuit-cutter or the open end of a Mason jar. Gather, pat, and cut dough again as needed. Arrange a layer of biscuit dough circles over the top of the filling in the skillet, leaving a little bit of room in between each. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the biscuits have risen and browned and the filling bubbles. Serve immediately.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.