I decided to participate in the 3rd Annual Dark Days of Winter Eat Local Challenge organized by (not so) Urban Hennery. The challenge is to cook one meal each week focused on SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients and blog about it. I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few months ago and have been looking for ways to incorporate more local food into my diet. Because I live in a pretty fantastic part of the country for agriculture and food, I don’t really have an excuse to be eating stuff that’s been flown in from around the world. Aiming to cook and eat local one night a week is a fairly reasonable goal.
I found out about the challenge a week into it, and with Thanksgiving prep, I didn’t have enough time to do a proper search for locally grown supplies. And with all the leftovers, I couldn’t justify buying more food. That said, I’m pleased to say that I’ve created a dish using only a couple non-local things, namely flour and baking powder, and possibly one other non-local ingredient which I’ll get to in a minute. I hope to find some locally milled flour for future challenges, but for the time being, this is what I’ve got.
For my Turkey Pot Pie, I used leftover Thanksgiving turkey, which came from a farm in Sonoma. The butter and cream are from Clover Stornetta farms, also based in Sonoma. I made the turkey stock from the turkey carcass. And all vegetables and herbs in the dish come from the farmers market, with the exception of the parsnip. I had bought a few to mix in with my mashed potatoes, and had a giant one left. For some reason, I can’t seem to find parsnips here at the farmers market so I resorted to the grocery store. My grocery store sucks, and does not label where the produce comes from. My guess is that it is from California, though I suppose I can’t be sure. I probably would have omitted this for the purposes of the challenge, but since it will get eaten eventually, I figured I’d just toss it in.
The directions to the pot pie are vague, partly because I didn’t write things down as I did it, but in part because it’s a very easy dish to prepare and adapt to whatever you have on hand. I have never had a pot pie with a biscuit crust before, but I wanted to try it out with sweet potato biscuits, using my leftover sweet potatoes. I must say, I think I’m a convert now. Biscuit crusts rock. Flufflier and heartier than a pie crust. So good.
To make the pot pie, I started with the turkey stock. Most of the meat had been picked off the carcass, and I put that in a pot of cold water, with an onion, salt, and some bay leaves. If you’ve got extra carrots or celery around, those can go in too. Boiled it for about two hours, strained, reserved the extra meat, and set it aside.
Then I rolled out the sweet potato biscuits using this recipe. I put the biscuits in the fridge, then preheated the oven to 350.
To make pot pie, you basically want to cook vegetables on the stove, then once cooked, make a sauce, pour into a pan, cover, and bake. Start with the hardest, longest cooking vegetables first and work your way down to the softest, most delicate vegetables. Hard root vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips will need a good 8-10 minutes. Unless they are already cooked, then just add them during the last minute or two to warm them up. Leeks and shallots went in at the 5 minute mark, and my leftover green beans from Thanksgiving dinner got added in the last minute. This is a pretty hard dish to screw up, so just use your judgment here based on whatever produce you have on hand. I sauted everything in butter, though you can use olive oil or a mix if you’d like.
Once the vegetables are cooked, add the turkey meat, whatever herbs you are using (I used thyme and sage) and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and sprinkle everything with a few tablespoons of flour. Add a couple ladles of turkey stock and a splash of cream. Stir together until you get a nice gravy-like sauce. Add a little more liquid or flour if you need to. You want it to be rich and wet, but not runny.
Pour everything into a deep baking dish or casserole dish, and cover with the biscuits. Brush the biscuits with an egg wash or some cream, and into the oven for 30-40 minutes.
When it comes out, let it sit for a couple minutes, then dig into the bliss.
I paired it with a chardonnay that my husband picked up on a recent trip to Napa. Yes, I realize I’m extremely lucky to have all this good stuff in my 150 mile radius. I think I’ll be eating well this winter!