Friday, 4 February 2011

Turkey and ham pie: post Christmas comfort

Every year I have a routine after Christmas which is to use up the leftover turkey and ham for pies to stash away in the freezer. There is something so comforting about luxuriously creamy pies and it is a great way of making sure the leftover meat stays deliciously moist and tasty. What's more, they are absolutely delicious in their own right (as opposed to just being a handy way of using up leftovers).

Last weekend we enjoyed the first of these pies from the freezer on a bitterly cold Sunday evening and it was so welcome. I don't bother with potatoes when serving these pies, just some vegetables on the side, so it's a very easy meal.

Preparing the pies, I use a generous base of turkey and ham and add some softened diced onion, fried mushrooms, peas, sometimes carrots or other vegetables (depending on how much I need to bulk out the meat). Using the pan juices, I make a creamy sauce with stock, double cream, dried tarragon and plenty of seasoning.

I top the pies with bought pastry – short-crust or puff depending on how I feel and what I have handy. This year it was short-crust. I like to decorate them all with pastry leaves made with the off-cuts. Then cover the pies with foil and carefully position them in the freezer.

De-frost the pies before cooking. I glaze the surface with beaten egg (though not shown in pic) before cooking them at 180°C for about 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown.

Refreshing, supple reds would be good here – a particular favourite is Cabernet Franc from the Loire, such as Chinon or Saumur-Champigny. Red Burgundy would also work well, its lifted acidity balancing the richness of the dish.

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