So often in the kitchen, what I cook is a success. Even if it isn’t amazing to look at, it’s at least decent to eat. This tendency toward success may be giving me an inflated sense of bravado. (It may also explain why I love cooking so much: we gravitate towards what we’re good at, yes?) So, when I have a kitchen fail, I often panic, losing any sense of humor or grace. Such was the case yesterday, attempting and failing, again, with pie crust.
Pie crust eludes me like nothing else. Part of this, I believe, is because it is a rather fussy bit of pastry; it’s demanding and technique-driven, where I am partial to the unfussy and definitely not technique-driven in the kitchen. I love to make things that allow for a little breathing room, a little flexibility. Pie crust, it seems, is the opposite of that.
The purpose of this pie crust was to make some mini-turkey pot pies: the perfect vehicle for leftovers following Thanksgiving. But, well, that’s not happening. After another year of uncooperative crust, I think pie and me are through. Plan B, in lieu of the perfect crust, is a simple hand pie, made with pizza dough, that has a filling not unlike pot pie, but is easier to make and a little bit healthier too. (Following a feast the size of Thanksgiving, something that’s a little bit healthier isn’t going to hurt anybody.) What I love about these little pies is how flexible they are: you can fill them with any Thanksgiving leftover you desire, be it stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes or green beans. Tuck in some turkey meat and a little cheese, bake them for about 20 minutes, and you’re all set.
Turkey, Cheddar and Apple Hand Pies
Whole wheat pizza dough (pre-made or following this recipe)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 cup roasted and diced turkey meat
1 medium, crisp apple, diced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
If using chilled pizza dough, allow to come to room temperature for about an hour.
Warm the butter in a skillet over a medium low flame. Saute the onion, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about ten minutes. Add spinach and stir to wilt the leaves, about two minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the turkey meat, diced apple, cheddar cheese, thyme and sage and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Set aside.
On a floured surface, roll the pizza dough into a large square, roughly 12×12 inches. Divide into 16 squares about 3×3 inches. Place the squares on a large, lightly oiled baking sheet.
Using a spoon or your hands, portion a generous tablespoon of the filling in the center of each square.
Fold one edge of the square over the other, forming a triangle. Fold and pinch the edges together to seal. Pierce the top with a fork. Brush the surface with a little olive oil, and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Bake in the oven until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Best enjoyed hot. Can be reheated. They freeze well.
And if you’re looking for Thanksgiving inspiration, I wanted to share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes with you:
Kimberley Hasselbrink is a food photographer and blogger based in San Francisco. She is the author of the blog The Year in Food, which is framed around a monthly seasonal food guide. Kimberley enjoys unusual produce, strong coffee, road trips and summer nights.