Turkey, ham and pine nut pies with cream cheese pastry
This Christmas I cooked my way through about $300.00 worth of meat that I ordered from the delectable Anthony at Vic’s Premium Quality Meats in Mascot. Honestly these guys provide THE best meat and it’s become my habit to get my Chrissy goodies from here.
Over the season I cooked for 20 adults and six children and my culinary paint pallette included a Thirlmere free range turkey, a boneless Kurobuta rare breed Berkshire shoulder ham, a 2.5 kg 100 day grain fed ‘Silver’ rib eye (scotch) fillet, and a Berkshire rack of pork. Plus dozens of salads. I’m not going to write about each and every one, but suffice to say with a top quality produce driven menu it’s pretty hard to go wrong. One thing I loved was that they threw in the stuffing for the turkey (chestnut and smoky bacon, made by Romeo Baudouin, Les Saveurs de Romeo, ex head chef of Prime in Sydney) which was absolutely spectacular. I would normally make my own stuffing but this saved time and I doubt I could have done it better even though I had the recipe for it. They also threw in the glaze for the ham which was pungently clove-y and sticky with maple syrup and cider.
There are heaps of recipes and pictures of hams and turkeys, golden and glazed and succulent, with all the trimmings, but what always interests me is what to do with the leftovers. Even after a panzer division of relatives has mown their way through the offerings of the Christmas table you’ll still have nearly ½ a kilo of turkey meat, the carcass, and a kilo or so of ham hanging about. There’s fried rice, omelettes and frittatas, sandwiches, salads, but you soon get tired of that. So here’s an idea I’ve adapted from December ’06 NZ Cuisine magazine which looked like it could easily accommodate the remainder of my leftovers elegantly and ready for a summer picnic. The finished product is a bit like a traditional English pork pie. I’ll warn you, there’s a couple of steps involved, so it’s a long recipe that you may choose to execute over two days, but you’ll be pleased with the results of your hard work.
First, make a stock from the bones of the roast turkey. Place them in a large pot with one halved onion, a halved head of garlic, 6 peppercorns, a few bay leaves and sprigs of thyme, a roughly chopped carrot and a few chopped celery stalks. (DO NOT salt the stock. It will be reduced after it simmers and salting it now could make it too salty at the end of the process). Cover with cold water and a glass of white wine until the stock ingredients are just immersed, bring to the boil, skim the mucky bits off the top and simmer for 2 hours. After 2 hours, strain the stock though muslin and return to a pan and reduce by half or until you have about 400-500mls of concentrated stock. Strain again and leave this to cool. (If you don’t have the opportunity to make your own stock this way, use a good commercial brand and reduce the same way. Campbells Real Consomme will work as it will set to jelly when cooled).
Cream Cheese pastry: (Cuisine credits Tim Duncan from White Tie Catering in Christchurch with this recipe, which he in turn adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible, so I am similarly crediting them).
2 cups plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
125 g cream cheese (hard philadelphia)
170 g unsalted butter, diced
2 tbps iced water
1 tbsp cider vinegar
Place the flour and baking powder in a food processor and pulse. Add the chopped cold cream cheese to the flour and process until coarsely incorporated. Add butter and pulse again until roughly combined. Add water and vinegar and process until the dough comes together. Tip onto a board, pull together with your hand, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or overnight. This is a great pastry to work with and is very forgiving. It’s soft and pliable and will push back together if it breaks. If you’re nervous around pastry and baulk at making your own, try this. It’s also the sort of pastry which tastes fabulous when cold, which is how the final dish is served.
For the filling:
400 g cold diced turkey meat (or you could use chicken if you don’t have any leftover turkey)
175 g diced ham
1 small onion finely chopped
1 clove crushed garlic
½ tbsp oil
1 dozen pitted chopped cherries
150 g toasted pine nuts
4 teaspoons of finely chopped sage
Grated zest of one orange
Salt and pepper to season.
Cook the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent. Cool and mix with the other filling ingredients.
To assemble and cook the pies:
Preheat the oven to 190°C (170 fan forced). Lightly grease four non-stick 7 cm diameter mini springform tins. Roll the pastry out to 2 mm thickness and cut out 4 disks big enough to line the base and sides plus 1cm overhang, and 4 disks for the lids plus 1cm overhang. Cut a small hole about the size of your little finger in the centre of the disks for the lids.
Fit the base pastry into the pans, easing it in at the edges, and fill loosely with filling. Fit the lids on, press the pastry together with your fingers, and roll the overhang inwards to seal the pies. Refrigerate for 40 minutes. Decorate with sage leaves and brush with egg wash. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through. Let the pies cool completely.
When they are cool and while they are still in their pans, use a squeeze bottle or turkey baster to pour the liquid room temperature reduced stock in through the holes in the lids of the pies until the level of stock reaches the top.
Refrigerate, and the stock will form a jelly around the filling in the pies.
Serve with your favourite relish: I used this Christmas cranberry and sour cherry relish.