Leftovers for Thanksgiving

“This might have been better than the actual meal!”, my husband proclaimed after finishing off his last bite of Turkey Pot Pie made with Thanksgiving leftovers. Isn’t it like that with a fond memory?  The residual recollection is often better, more intense and vibrant than the actual event.  Different elements contribute to the memory and sometimes they alter reality.

We mostly had family for our Thanksgiving meal, but invited a family of three who had recently had a kitchen mishap and were without the ability to use their kitchen.  The mom remarked about halfway through our meal that each family did their meal so differently which got me to thinking, our Thanksgiving traditions have changed. We used to have oysters in the dressing for my mother who loved oyster dressing.  My son is allergic to shellfish so now we do not have oysters. My husband grew up with cornbread dressing but since we almost always dined with my parents over the past 30 years, we switched from oysters. I lost my father this year and now that both are gone, we have started our own traditions at home.  At Dad’s funeral I invited all the cousins, aunts and uncles to our farm for Thanksgiving. Six cousins and my dad’s sister and her husband showed up.  We laughed about old times, but we started some new traditions. For one, we raised our turkeys for this year’s dinner. There’s nothing like being able to proudly say you had a hand in this delicious bird.  A couple of the cousins are gluten free, so we had some gluten free desserts provided and I made cream caramel. As for the dressing, my cousin bought gluten free baguettes from Whole Foods and John made a delicious, moist herbed dressing with it.

We were able to feed and seat 15 people with a mix of chairs from my parent’s house, and extra table from my sister’s house and an amalgamation of silver place settings courtesy of my long-gone mother-in-law, my own mother and my own collection.  These leftovers helped to make the day so much richer.  We would have done it differently without them, but I’m glad they were available. Now that all the parents have passed away, it’s time to start our own traditions.  The different elements that helped to make our day special, relatives from far away, different diet needs, my daughter’s decorating advice, new friends joining with our family all came together to form one big meal, like the pot pie.

pie filling

Our pot pie had turkey with red wine gravy and roasted root vegetables (reserving the beets for the salad) and discarding most of the rutabagas and turnips, because ewww (Sorry ‘cuz!), parsnips, carrots and peas are all acceptable though. 


The following recipe is more of an assemblage than a recipe. The elements can alter based on your own family traditions. The pie shells can be purchased or made on your own.  This pie crust was an exceptional one if I do say and an experiment that I will be adding to my repertoire. But that’s another post….

What you’ll need for a 10” deep dish pie:

1 – 10” double crust pie dough or a recipe with about 2 ¾ cup flour if making your own.

1 stalk fresh celery
½ onion, diced
3 cups left over gravy
½ c white or red wine depending on how dark your gravy is
1 -3” sprig of fresh thyme
2 cups vegetables, left over already cooked,
1 cup peas, frozen or leftover creamed peas if that is your tradition
2 cups chopped turkey
2 tablespoons of butter, cut into 4 pieces

Preheat your oven to 350°.

In a large skillet, sauté your onion and celery until translucent. Add the wine and let reduce to dry about 10 min. When it is dry, add in the gravy and bring to simmer, add rest of ingredients.  Stir and remove from the stove and pour into your pie shell. Dot the top of the pie filling with 2 tablespoons of butter cut into four pieces.  Place the 2nd piece of pie dough over the filling sealing it to the walls of the shell. Cut 5 ventilation slits in the center with a very sharp knife.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes until the gravy bubbles up through the center and crust is gold brown.

turkey pot pieslice of pot pie


We served this with arugula fresh from our garden and some of the roasted beets from the Thursday lunch and some feta cheese leftover from the green salad. It all came together to make a warm and lovely meal.

Do you have any traditions or “must haves” at your holiday table?  Be sure to comment and share!



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