After the plate of leftovers and a turkey and dressing sandwich, what's it going to be? Turkey pot pie or turkey casserole?
If these sound uninspiring, it must be because of the recipe, because either — well prepared — can grace my table any time.
Casseroles can be horribly bland or, at the other extreme, too salty. This version is neither, and sports a delicious cornbread biscuit topping that pairs perfectly with turkey. If you don't have enough gravy left, double the butter, stir in 1/4 cup or so of flour and make fresh gravy with chicken broth. Whatever vegetables you cooked will taste great in this, but I wouldn't go too heavy on the potato.
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. savoury
1/4 tsp. each poultry seasoning, dried thyme, salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups each diced cooked turkey and turkey gravy
2 cup diced leftover or frozen vegetables
Cornbread Biscuit Topping:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch each dried thyme and poultry seasoning
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter (reduce salt if using salted)
Gather the ingredients for the topping before you start because you want to drop the biscuits on top of the hot base. For the filling, fry celery and onion in butter in a large frying pan until soft. Stir in tomato paste and cook together a few minutes. Add savoury, poultry seasoning, thyme, salt and pepper and fry another minute. Add turkey, gravy and vegetables and heat thoroughly. Pour into a greased baking dish.
For the biscuits, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, thyme and poultry seasoning. Whisk together egg, milk and butter and add all at once to dry ingredients.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls all over the top of the filling, but don’t try to cover it completely.
Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling up around it. You should get about 6 servings.
Turkey Nacho Casserole
Who doesn’t like a platter of nachos? Me, when half of them don’t have any toppings. Prepared casserole style, these will be a hit down to the last scrap of tortilla chip. If your turkey gravy is highly seasoned, reduce the salt and pepper in the gravy-bean-corn mixture. This should serve 6 to 8 people.
3 tbsp. vegetable oil (divided)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 or 3 large bell peppers, diced (mixed colours make this casserole much prettier)
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (divided)
1 tsp. each salt and pepper (divided)
1/2 tsp. each dried oregano, cumin and chili powder
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kernel corn, drained
1/2 cup turkey gravy (optional)
1/2 to 1 tsp. hot pepper sauce (to taste)
3 cups shredded cooked turkey
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice (or lemon in a pinch)
1 bag tortilla chips (use as much of the bag as you like)
1-1/2 to 2 cups each grated Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese
1/2 cup pickled sliced jalapenos
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream and salsa
In about half the oil over high heat, fry onion until it starts to colour but is still firm — stir-fry style. Add peppers and garlic and fry another minute, just until the vegetables start to wilt. Stir in about half the salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.
Heat the rest of the oil in the pan and add oregano, cumin and chili powder and cook a minute. Stir in beans, corn, gravy and hot sauce and heat through; stir in remaining salt and pepper. Toss turkey with lime juice and set aside; likewise, mix the cheeses and set aside.
In a large roaster, layer about 1/3 of the tortilla chips. Top with 1/3 each of the fried pepper mixture, black bean mixture, turkey and lime juice mixture, cheese mixture, jalapenos, green onions and cilantro. Repeat twice more, then bake at 450 F for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling hot. Serve with sour cream and salsa.
Fabulous Turkey Pot Pie
So, here it is, anything but that frozen lump in the foil dish inside the cardboard box. Puff pastry might remind you of the chicken a la king that you’ve probably had at some nasty hotel luncheon, but the comparison ends there. Turkey has plenty of flavour to stand up to the crispy, flaky pastry, and using just the top crust means you won't get more pastry than filling. Look for the long package of frozen puff pastry, similar in shape to phyllo. It holds two sheets of pastry, so remove one to thaw and leave the other in the freezer.
4 strips lean bacon
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. savoury
1/4 cup dry white wine (or water if you prefer)
2 cups turkey gravy
3 cups cubed turkey
2 cups diced cooked turnip
1 cup sliced cooked carrot
1 cup green cooked veggie — whatever you like (yes, leftover cabbage would be great)
salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg plus 1 tsp. water
Fry bacon until crisp; remove from pan, crumble and set aside. Fry onion and mushrooms in bacon fat until the mushrooms give up their moisture and it evaporates and everything is golden brown.
Stir in garlic, savoury and wine and cook together a few minutes. Add gravy, turkey, turnip, carrot and green vegetable and heat through. Taste and season as you like.
Pour into a rectangular casserole dish about the size of your pastry sheet. Top with thawed puff pastry, unfolded. Whisk together egg and water and brush pastry.
Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes, or until pastry has puffed and is golden and the base is bubbling hot. Serve garnished with bacon.
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c-o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.