We all know well that day-old turkey is quite dry. So smothering it in a creamy béchamel sauce for Leftover Turkey Pot Pie is an excellent way to breath new and delicious life into leftover meat! Adapted from my classic Chicken Pot Pie, this also makes use of leftover bread for a cheesy garlic bread topping.
Dull leftovers? Never around here!
Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
Got leftover turkey?* Bits of bread lying around? Some scraps of veggies? Milk, butter and flour?
Then you can MAKE THIS Turkey Pot Pie! Because everything else is optional 🙂
OK, so a melty cheese topping precariously straddles the border of “optional” in my book, but having said that nobody every complains whenever normal cheese-less garlic bread makes an appearance so I doubt anyone would complain here either….
* Chicken, of course, is a perfectly valid alternative here if that’s what you have.
The idea for a crunchy buttery bread topping rather than puff pastry that Chicken Pot Pie is traditionally made with came about because the year I originally published this recipe I had a load of stale bread lying around and no puff pastry.
And I’m glad I did, because the garlic bread topping totally MAKES it!!!
What goes in Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
Here’s what you need to make this. Take note: Any veg, any melting cheese!
- Cooked turkey or chicken – If you’re wondering what the difference actually is between the two meats (other than the fact that turkey can be 2x, 5x bigger!!) from a taste perspective, the answer is very little. Turkey meat has a slightly deeper flavour, but most people can’t tell the difference. I find chicken meat is slightly more tender, being that’s it’s a smaller bird. But with leftovers and especially redeployed in a way like this, one can barely tell the difference.
In fact, the meat shown below in the container above is chicken, given that I didn’t make a new turkey recipe this year (due the current pandemic restrictions and environment as I explained in my Thanksgiving post).
- Milk, butter, flour and stock powder – To make the creamy white sauce we use to smother everything in this pie.
- Vegetables – I’ve used carrot, frozen peas and mushrooms because that’s what I had on the day when I first shared this recipe. You can use any vegetables you have that you think will taste nice in a creamy sauce. The spirit of this pie is using up leftovers, remember, so just about anything goes!
- Garlic and onion – Essential flavour base for virtually every savoury dish around these parts!
Cheesy garlic bread topping
While the filling is delicious, I’m not going to lie to you – the topping steals the show. It’s essentially cheesy garlic bread. The top gets beautiful and golden and the underside soaks up the creamy sauce…. UGH! It’s so good!
Here’s what you need:
- Bread – Any bread is fine here. If you have a loaf or rolls, tear it into chunks. If you have pre-sliced bread, layer it overlapping so it covers the whole filling;
- Garlic and butter – Fresh garlic is best, always. Jarred garlic is fine as a substitute, but it’s never the same – it has a sour taste and lacks that true fresh garlic pungency. A garlic press makes short work of mincing garlic (I use Zyliss, as listed in my Essential Kitchenware post!);
- Parmesan – Just a little sprinkle for a boost of extra flavour, like we do for Chicken Parmesan, Baked Ziti. Entirely optional – but if you’ve got it, I recommend it!
- Cheese – Any cheesee you have is fine here – anything that melts! But freshly-shredded is best. I wanted to use up mozzarella cheese slices I had on hand (an error in judgement in purchase) so that’s what you see here, but it’s always better to grate your own. It melts better; pre-sliced gets a bit of a skin on it, and pre-shredded stuff in packets just doesn’t melt as well as freshly shredded.
How to make Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
The making part is a streamlined version of Chicken Pot Pie because we’re using leftover cooked turkey or chicken instead of making it from scratch.
- Garlic butter – Simply mix melted butter and crushed garlic (use a garlic crusher here to extract best flavour – see the Zyliss I use in my Essential Kitchenware post);
- Garlic bread topping – Toss chunks of bread with the garlic butter;
- Cook mushrooms first then remove, so we can get a nice golden brown colour on them = tastier. If you cook them later, they don’t brown up because the pot is too crowded;
- Flavour base and roux – Sauté garlic and onion in butter, then carrot, to make a flavour base. Then add the flour and stir it in to make a roux (thickener for the bechamel);
- Make creamy bechamel sauce – Pour half the milk in while stirring constantly. This will help ensure your sauce is lump-free as it will transform into a paste-like mixture that the flour mixes into more easily. Then stir in the rest of the milk and the “paste” will dissolve into the milk … giving us lump-free bechamel sauce! (However, if you do have some flour lumps, just grab a whisk and whisk it back and forth rapidly, it will eventually remove any lumps); and
- Thicken – Stir leisurely as it comes to heat (so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pot), and as it gets hot and steamy it will thicken quite quickly. Cook it until the sauce is thick enough so you can draw a clean path through the sauce across the back of a wooden spoon.
Sauce done! Now it’s just a matter of adding the turkey and assembling!
- Make filling – Add turkey, frozen peas (no need to thaw) and mushrooms then toss well;
- Top with garlic bread – Spread the filling out so it’s flat, then top with the garlic bread chunks;
- Cheesy goodness – Sprinkle with parmesan then top with the melting cheese. I’ve used mozzarella slices today because I that’s what I had. They were pre-sliced which I don’t like; it doesn’t melt as well as slicing or shredding your own. But hey, never waste perfectly good ingredients!
- Bake! Bake half the time uncovered to get nice brown spots on the cheese, then the remaining time covered so the cheese doesn’t get any browner but it gives everything a chance to bubble together nicely.
Then pull it out of the oven and dig in!
Mmmmm, that combination of creamy filling and that buttery, cheesy garlic bread topping… it’s to die for!
I really hope you got a turkey big enough this year so you have enough leftovers to make this! My rule of thumb for gauging roast turkey portions is around 250g / 8oz raw turkey per person (shrinks by about 20% once cooked). Multiply that by the number of guests you are catering for.
But … then double it. That way, you will know for sure that you’ll have plenty of turkey leftover to make this Leftover Turkey Pot Pie. 😉 – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Garlic Bread Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 150g / 5 oz mushrooms , sliced 1/2cm / 1/5" thick
- 50g / 4 tbsp butter
- 1 onion , finely chopped (brown, white, yellow)
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 carrot , peeled, chopped into 1cm/ 1/3" pieces
- 4 tbsp flour (plain/all purpose)
- 2 1/2 cups milk (any fat % fine)
- 4 cups (600g) cooked chopped turkey or chicken
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- 1 tsp chicken or vegetable stock powder (or 1 cube. I use Vegeta powder)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Garlic Bread Topping
- 50g / 4 tbsp salted butter
- 2 garlic cloves , minced using garlic press
- 5 packed cups bread chunks ~2.5cm/1" cubes (Note 1)
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese , grated (optional)
- 1 cup mozzarella or other melting cheese, shredded or sliced (or enough slices to cover most of top)
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (all oven types)
- Topping: Stir together melted butter and garlic. Place bread chunks in a bowl, drizzle over butter, toss. Set aside.
- Brown mushrooms: Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over high heat. (Note 3) Add mushrooms and cook until browned – about 4 minutes. Remove.
- Sauté garlic & onion: Lower heat to medium high. Melt butter in same skillet. Add onion and garlic, cook for 2 minutes.
- Add carrot then cook for 1 minute.
- Add flour, cook for 1 minute. You'll have a pasty mix. Don't worry if it looks dry (depends how sweaty your onions get).
- Make roux: While stirring, add half the milk and mix quickly to dissolve the paste into the liquid (this happens quite quickly). Add remaining liquid and stir. Add stock powder, salt and pepper, stir.
- Thicken sauce: Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring regularly. It should start steaming and bubbling a bit, and the sauce will thicken. Thickness test: coat back of wooden spoon, you should be able to draw a line across it (see video, Note 3)
- Add turkey, peas and mushrooms, and mix into sauce.
- Top with bread, spread to cover surface. Grate over parmesan if using, top with melting cheese.
- Bake: Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until the cheese gets some brown spots. Tent foil over so it doesn't stick to the cheese, then bake for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve: Sprinkle with additional parmesan if desired, then serve!
Originally published November 2016. Updated with new photos and recipe video in November 2020.
Life of Dozer
Nothing has changed in the 4 years since I first shared this recipe – The gleam in those eyes as he dreams of doing a face plant in that pie….. Now (2020):
…. and back then (2016).