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Have you been searching for a unique and tasty way to use up leftover turkey? Your family will love these leftover turkey and sweet potato pasties. They're a colorful and appetizing way to enjoy roasted turkey left over from Thanksgiving or Christmas.
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What is a pasty?
Pasty (pronounced PAST-ee) is a disc of pastry folded in half with a filling inside. Pasties are typically savory, and are served as a main course. They can be made with almost any kind of pastry, and can have a wide variety of fillings. Chicken empanadas are a variation of this hand-held pies.
Where are pasties from?
They are originally from England, where they were a popular food with miners and other workers. The men could have their meat and vegetables all in one convenient package that they could easily reheat over a candle flame or fire. The workers would hold the pasty by the crimping as they ate, and afterwards, would discard the crimped edge of the pastry because of their soiled hands.
Can I make turkey pasties ahead of time?
Yes, you can make and bake them ahead of time. They keep their crispness quite well in the fridge, as long as they are fully cool before going in the fridge.
If you're making the pasties ahead for company, I'd recommend assembling them completely and refrigerating them until needed; then bake them fresh for your guests. Unbaked ones should keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, as long as they are tightly wrapped.
Do they need to be refrigerated?
Yes, turkey pasties do need to be refrigerated because they contain meat. Do not leave them at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Can you freeze them?
Yes, you can freeze them before or after baking. Here's how to do it!
- Freezing Before Baking: do not egg wash. Flash freeze them on a cookie sheet for a few hours until solidly frozen, then seal in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Bake directly from frozen; increase the baking time until the pastry is golden.
- Freezing After Baking: seal the fully cooled pasties in a zip-top freezer bag and press out the air. Freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost them in a 375 F oven loosely covered with foil or in the microwave until heated through.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients. You'll need chopped leftover turkey, onion, garlic, sweet potato, and cranberries. For the gravy, you can use leftover gravy from Thanksgiving, or you can make your own with chicken broth, butter, flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme.
Let's start with making the gravy, if you don't have any leftovers. Melt the butter over medium-high heat until bubbling, then add the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes. The resulting paste is called a roux, and it will thicken the gravy.
Gradually pour in the chicken stock, whisking vigorously until the mixture is smooth. Add the spices and bring the gravy to a boil over medium heat, then turn the heat to medium-low and cook until thickened. Once the gravy is done, whisk in a tablespoon of butter to add additional richness.
Dump in the chopped turkey and stir until evenly mixed. Set aside the mixture to cool while you chop the vegetables.
Once all the veggies are cut up, roll out the rough puff pastry (or store-bought puff pastry) to about ⅛ inch thick. Cut out six circles, each measuring 6 ½ inches in diameter.
When you re-roll the scraps to cut more circles, stack the scraps instead of rolling them into a ball. This preserves the delicate layers of butter and dough in the pastry, ensuring beautiful flaky layers when the pastry is baked.
Now it's time to fill them! Place a spoonful of turkey gravy mixture in each one, then put 4-5 sweet potato chunks and 4-5 cranberries on each one. Sprinkle a little bit of onion and garlic on top, then brush the edge with egg wash and fold the pastry over. Seal the edges with a fork.
Place all of the pasties on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and brush them with beaten egg. Cut two or three vent holes in each pasty with the tip of a sharp knife, then chill them in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to firm up the pastry.
Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes, until they're a rich golden brown. Let them cool for 20-30 minutes on a wire rack before eating, as they will be very hot inside.
Are you out of a certain ingredient or simply want to change up the flavors? Here are some suggestions for substitutions and variations you might want to try.
- Meat: chicken or Cornish hen would be the closest substitutes for turkey.
- Veggies: try russet potatoes, turnip, parsnip, carrot, or celery for a change.
- Gravy: alfredo sauce or cheese sauce would be tasty changes.
- Pastry: try empanada dough, flaky shortcrust, or hot water crust.
- Use homemade pastry for the best flavor; you'll have fun making it, too. Check out my detailed step-by-step photos for making rough puff pastry.
- Speed up the prep time by using leftover gravy; you only need 1 cup. Don't use jarred or powdered gravy; it won't taste very good.
- You can use frozen or fresh cranberries; just make sure that they're are rinsed and well drained before using.
- Be careful not to overfill them, or they may split open in the oven. Seal the edges tightly to reduce leaks.
- Chill the pasties for at least 10 minutes before baking. This makes the pastry crispier and flakier.
- Pastry Brushes: these natural-bristle brushes brush smoothly and don't lose their bristles.
- Parchment Paper: keep your cookie sheets free from stains and spills with this paper.
- Wilton Cookie Sheets: these non-stick, rimmed cookie sheets bake evenly and clean well.
- Cooling Racks: these wire racks will keep your baked goods crispy as they cool.
Other Turkey Leftover Recipes
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Leftover turkey and sweet potato pasties are a savory comfort food recipe that uses up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or Christmas in a delicious way. Use buttery puff pastry, fresh cranberries, and healthy veggies to make these beautiful baked hand pies. Why not try it for dinner tonight?
For the Pastry
- 1.3 lb rough puff pastry or puff pastry (600g)
- 1 large egg
For the Meat and Vegetables
- ¾ cup sweet potatoes, peeled and finely diced (82g)
- ⅓ cup yellow onion, chopped (50g)
- ¼ cup garlic, roughly chopped (38g)
- ¾ cup fresh cranberries (72g)
- 2 cups shredded turkey (180g)
For the Gravy (or use 1 cup leftover gravy)
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (37g)
- 2 tablespoons salted butter (28g)
- 1 ¼ cup turkey or chicken stock (295 ml)
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- 1 tablespoon salted butter (14g)
Preparing the Vegetables & Turkey (45 min)
- Peel and finely dice the sweet potatoes, then chop the onion and garlic. Rinse the cranberries and discard any bad ones. Chop the turkey into bite-size pieces and set aside.
Making the Gravy (15 min)
- There's no need to make a gravy if you have 1 cup (240 ml) of leftover turkey gravy. Simply mix the meat with the gravy as in step 4 below.
- Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until melted and bubbling. Add the flour and whisk continuously for 2-3 minutes.
- Gradually pour in the turkey stock, whisking continuously, then bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook the gravy for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it has thickened.
- Season with the salt, pepper, and herbs, then stir in a pat of butter. Mix the chopped turkey into the gravy.
Assembling the Pasties (45 min + 10 min chilling + 20 min baking)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll the chilled rough puff pastry to ⅛ inch thick, then cut out six 6 ½ inch circles from the pastry. Stack the scraps and re-roll them as needed.
- To assemble each pasty, place a spoonful of the gravy mixture in the middle of the circle. Push 4-5 sweet potato cubes, 4-5 cranberries, and a sprinkle of onion and garlic on top. Be careful not to overfill.
- Brush half of the pastry edge with beaten egg, then fold over the top. Press the seam together gently and crimp with a fork to seal. Transfer to the prepared cookie sheet, and repeat steps 3 and 4 with the remaining pastry.
- Brush all of the pasties with beaten egg, poke two vent holes in each one, and chill for 10 minutes in the fridge.
- Bake at 400 F for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry has puffed and is a rich golden brown.
- Transfer the pasties to a wire rack and let them cool for 20-30 minutes before eating.
- Use homemade pastry for the best flavor.
- Speed up the prep time by using leftover gravy, or make your own as in the instructions above.
- Use fresh or frozen cranberries, whichever you have.
- Prevent broken pasties by not overfilling and by sealing the edges tightly.
- Chill for 10 minutes before baking to make the pastry extra flaky.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: leftover, recipe
This recipe was originally published on December 8, 2017.