Those of you who know me well know that I don't like to mess with tradition, particularly around Christmastime, but desperate times call for desperate measures. You see, Christmas has always meant a pork pie. My nana has always had a pork pie. Like any good French-Canadian, her mother used to make them for Christmas Eve. Of course, Nana Grenon wasn't much for a recipe, so she showed my grandmother what to do. I tried to write that recipe up last year, but there were too many variables. You see, in my family, a pork pie recipe works a bit like this: grind up some leftover pork with some onions, mix some salt and pepper and poultry seasoning with mashed potatoes, toss it all together with leftover pork gravy and tuck between two pie crusts. How much? How wet? How fluffy? The answer to all three is enough, which isn't exactly helpful for recipe writing.
But this year Nana had a bit of a challenge for me. She needs a pork pie recipe without pork so that her holiday guests can share in her favorite holiday meal. I'd needed to improvise one some time ago since Ryan doesn't eat pork. And so here I am, the ultimate traditionalist, monkeying with tradition.
You'll have to bear with me a bit for this recipe. It's really for my Nana, but I'm sharing it with you. I know that there are parts where she'll be thinking "I know that!" or "That's not how I'd do it!" So Nana, you're probably right, do what you think is best! And there are parts where you'll be wishing I gave better instructions, but I'm afraid it can't be helped. I did my best.
PORKLESS PORK PIE
This amount of filling makes a slightly scant 9" pie. I don't want to be guessing at proportions which is what I'd be doing if I wanted to make it more stuffed.
Using up Thanksgiving leftovers? No problem. Get 12 oz of cooked turkey instead of the raw. You'll need to grind it up using your meat grinder.
1 recipe dough
12 oz ground turkey - preferably a high ratio of fat, so 93% fat free if you can get it. 99% fat free will taste like cardboard. Also as this is not a whole package of ground turkey, you can use the rest for something else, white turkey chili would be great.
2 C mashed potatoes
1/2 a large onion chopped - this was about a cup for me
2 garlic cloves chopped
2-3 tablespoons butter
approximately a 1/4 C of homemade turkey gravy
salt and pepper
6 leaves fresh sage (Nana - I have these in the house, you can use poultry seasoning to taste if you prefer!)
Make the dough and put it in the fridge. In a large pan, melt a tablespoon of butter and add the garlic and onions and a small pinch of salt. Saute for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add the ground turkey and brown over medium heat, using your spoon to break apart the meat until crumbly. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus the well minced sage leaves. Thanksgiving leftover version - still cook those garlic and onions, but mix it in with your meat grinder turkey. Then mix it with the potatoes by hand, skip the food processing step below.
Now Nana usually combines the ground meat and the potatoes by hand, but I did it in my food processor. Don't over process because you don't want a paste, but make sure the mashed potatoes and turkey don't have any big chunks left. Working with warm or room temperature potatoes helps matters. The resulting mixture should be sort of fluffy and crumbly but should smoosh together if you press it. See below:
Moisten with a 1/4 C of turkey gravy. You don't want this too wet, just moist and flavorful. If it's too dry (a real problem especially if you started with dry mashed potatoes) use more gravy or some chicken stock in a pinch. Taste this. You have to. Add more salt and pepper as needed, clearly how much you add depends on how seasoned your potatoes, gravy and turkey were to begin with. Don't worry if it feels like you're adding a lot of salt. Anything that's made primarily from a mild flavored meat and potatoes needs salt.
Preheat the oven to 325 F (Nana cook this however you would normally, if you don't use 325/45 minutes tell me and I'll fix it in this recipe!).
Roll out the bottom crust and place in your pie plate. Fill with the turkey and potato mixture. Top with another tablespoon or so of butter, pinched off.
Then roll out the top crust, add the top, pinch the sides closed, cut slits in the top and bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the pie is warm.