There comes a time a few days after Thanksgiving where you have to figure out how to repackage your leftovers in a way to make them more appealing. It’s as much a tradition as the Thanksgiving meal itself but one that people don’t talk about nearly as much. Turkey tetrazzini comes to mind as does the ‘tradition’ of letting-leftovers-go-bad-in-the-fridge. But let me suggest an alternative that is much more effective – and delicious. Turkey Shepherd’s Pie.
The goal when making a new dish out of leftovers is to use up as many leftovers as possible. It’s not just turkey that needs to be eaten – in fact turkey is often the easiest part to use up. Leftover side dishes get boring after a while and I often have extra celery and carrots from making stuffing that should be used up. Plus there’s the issue of what to do with leftover mashed potatoes which don’t necessarily improve over time. Shepherd’s pie solves all those problems.
Traditionally Shepherd’s pie is made with ground beef and while it’s called pie it doesn’t normally have a crust on top of bottom – unless you count the mashed potato topping. But pie crust is delicious so I made an extra one during all the Thanksgiving prep work and kept it in the fridge for a few days until I was ready to make pie.
The filling is a combination of turkey and side dishes that I was tired of eating on their own and the topping is those otherwise sad mashed potatoes. The end result is crispy on top and it makes the boring leftovers taste new and different again. Turkey tetrazzini still has its place but if you’re looking to use up more than just leftover turkey, this pie may be just what you’re looking for.
Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
Makes enough for 8 generous servings of pie
1 recipe flaky pie crust
3-4 cups filling – I used a combination of turkey, leftover green bean casserole, shredded Brussels sprouts, and carrots and celery from making stuffing
¼ to ½ cup gravy*
Up to 1 cup leftover mashed potatoes**
Crunchy toppings – such as nuts or French fried onions (if you have them)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare the filling ingredients by chopping turkey and other slices of leftovers into bite-sized pieces. If you’re using any raw ingredients, stir fry them in a skillet set over medium heat with a tablespoon of oil (or turkey fat) for a few minutes until they’re soft. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and add the gravy and egg. Stir until it’s all evenly combined and set the filling aside.
Roll out the pie crust to fit into a deep-dish pie pan or another dish if your pie pan isn’t deep enough to hold all the ingredients. It’s important to have a flat top to spread the mashed potatoes so make sure you won’t have to pile up the ingredients for this pie. A round casserole dish works excellently. When the crust is large enough drape it into the dish and leave the edges hanging over the side. Make sure it touches the bottom before you add the filling – if you stretch the crust it might break when you fill it.
Add the filling to the crust and fold the edges in over the top.**Spread the mashed potatoes over the top so all the filling is covered and sprinkle the crunchy bits on top (if using). Bake for 40 minutes or until crust and mashed potatoes are lightly browned. Serve hot or warm, with some leftover cranberry sauce if you have any.
* We often have a lot of extra gravy so I use it here so it won’t go bad. But if you don’t have enough to spare just add an extra egg to bind the filling together.
**Leftover mashed potatoes have a tendency to get dry which makes it hard to spread them on the top of the pie. Heat them up in the microwave with some milk and stir the warmed mixture together until they’re soft and relatively smooth
*** In a normal pie pan there’s usually a lip that the crust can rest on while it bakes so it doesn’t ‘slide down the sides. That doesn’t happen with a casserole dish so folding the edges over the filling helps the crust to not slide down the sides while the pie baked.