Leftover Shepherd’s Pie
What are you going to do with all those holiday leftovers? We had a ton of Thanksgiving goodies leftover, and although I probably could polish off twenty servings of stuffing in no time, I decided to throw together a little “Shepherd’s Pie”. A week later we took this out of the freeze, baked it up and enjoyed a little Thanksgiving gluttony all over again.
Simple. Simple. I grabbed my largest pie pan and took out all my leftovers. I layered my stuffing on the bottom, covered with the chopped turkey, slathered on the gravy and mixed one egg into my mashed potatoes and spread that over the top. If you have left over veggies I would layer them on the turkey before you coat in fat…I mean gravy…
I was worried that it would be dried out, but was pleasantly surprised how moist and delicious the pie was after we baked (I think this has a lot to do with all the delicious fruit in my stuffing!). This can be baked immediately or wrapped and frozen for up to one month (don’t let it get weird). Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes (depending on how frozen it is) until the center is hot. ENJOY!
Fabulous Stuffing w/ Dried Fruit
Stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. With all the fruit in this…the flavor is absolutely outstanding. I like to use broth from the giblets and extra dried fruit in mine, but the recipe is incredibly forgiving and adaptable…but the prunes are key! Make sure to check out my tip about adding salt if you are using a brine.
4 Tablespoons Butter
1 Medium Sweet Onion
3 - 4 Large Celery Stalks
1 - 2 Large Apples
1 cup of Dried Prunes (heaping)
1 cup of Dried Apricots
3/4 cup of Dried Cranberries
1 loaf of Sandwich Bread (I used Trader Joe’s thick Honey Wheat)
Sage (generous…to taste)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Dice all ingredients into smallish pieces and chop bread into small about 1/2”-1” pieces. Fill a small sauce pan with a hefty amount of water and boil giblets (turkey innards) for at least an hour creating a nice broth (do this at least two hours ahead of time to really boil in the good giblet flavor….Yes. It is gross. Just do it). After you chop all the veggies, chop the dried fruit, cut the bread and make your broth…begin to melt the butter in a frying pan and saute onions and celery for 3 minutes until they begin to tenderize. Add in chopped apple.
While the apple, onion and celery are tenderizing for a few more minutes, in a large bowl toss dried fruit, bread, sage, salt (wait on this until later if brining your turkey) and pepper. Remove onion, apple and celery from heat and pour over bread. Toss around with a wooden spoon (...then hands…) until everything is incorporated and sage is evenly distributed throughout the stuffing. I generally add in extra dried fruit for good measure at this point, and drizzle it with about one half to one full cup of the giblet broth. Time to stuff the brined turkey!
You should have a considerable amount of stuffing leftover filling the turkey. At this point I add a bit of salt to the remaining stuffing (that is not going inside my salty, brined bird), add a bit more broth to make the stuffing moist (stuffing that goes in the bird needs next to no moisture), pack it into a casserole dish, cover and bake it alongside the bird for the last 45 minutes to an hour. ENJOY!
Variation: in the past I also add some slivered almonds or nuts into the stuffing. This is a great addition, but I don’t always do it!
Recipe adapted from my mama…but originally adapted from Lyn Preston.
Turkey Brine and Rub
After cooking my first (EVER) turkey in 2010 with a “brine”, I will never cook a turkey any other way. Here is my simple brine and herb rub! It was so good we did this at Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, Thanksgiving again this year and it is on the menu again for Christmas!
64 oz. Broth (turkey broth or chicken are what I generally use)
64 oz. Water
1 ¼ cups Sea Salt
1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary (heaping)
1 tablespoon dried sage (heaping)
1 tablespoon dried thyme (heaping)
4 large Bay Leaves
Ice (enough to cool to room temperature)
Wash turkey in cool water and remove all innards (place in a pot for later). In a large stock pot bring water, broth and spices to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes until all the salt is dissolved. Let the mixture cool down for an hour, and dump in ice to cool completely. Then submerge your cleaned turkey (breast side down) in the prepared brine. Cover and chill overnight for up to 24 hours before dressing and roasting the turkey.
4 teaspoons Rosemary
4 teaspoons Thyme
4 Large Cloves of Garlic Minced
1/4 cup white wine Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender or small Cuisinart, and grind up everything until well combined. Using the end of a spoon or butter knife separate the skin from the meat of your turkey (creating pockets as best you can without removing any of the skin). Using your hands, rub the mixture into the turkey meat underneath the skin. I slather the top of the turkey skin with the rub as well so it is completely covered. Note: if you are not brining the turkey you will want to add about two teaspoons of salt to this rub, BUT DO NOT if you brine!
When you are ready to bake, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse with cool water, rub turkey with desired herbs and dress. Remember that the brine makes the bird cook much faster and take it out BEFORE it reaches the desired temp (I took mine out at about 165 degrees, since it will continue to cook after removal from the oven and should rest for about an hour before carving and serving). ENJOY!
Variations: You can use a couple cups of cider in the brine to sweeten it. Many brines even add up to two cups of brown sugar! I am going to try a sweet and salty citrus brine next thanksgiving!