Blackened turkey hand pies

(Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

Celebrate turkey season with this simple recipe

Our world began changing in late February and was pretty much upside down by the middle of March. We hadn’t gotten to a shelter-in-place order when it was time to get this recipe together, but the grocery stores had been plundered, and the selection was nothing like we are used to as we prepared to prepare the fruits of spring turkey season.

In many ways, sportsmen are the originators of social distancing. No one wants a bunch of people close by when they’re hunting or fishing, and that’s good, because late April and May are prime time for hunting and fishing in Mississippi. It’s the perfect time to share a recipe for that turkey you fooled with your great calling and woodsmanship.

In staying with the times, an appropriate recipe would be simple enough that most, if not all, of the ingredients could be found in the fridge, pantry or freezer — making a trip to the store unnecessary. Most folks will find this a good time to use that can or frozen pack of mixed vegetables. The ingredient most will have to shop for is the bread, and if someone has their own pie crust recipe, it should work fine.

Hunters certainly may prepare this recipe with a turkey from this year, but should keep in mind it works well with a breast or some wings and legs they found under something in the freezer.

Blackened turkey hand pies

The simplicity of this recipe has made it one of my favorites over many years. It probably also helps that it tastes good. This is the simplest version I can bring it to, and this was done to make it as simple as possible. Hopefully you will not need anything from the store while staying at home during the corona virus pandemic.

The turkey for this can be almost any part, as long as it can be removed from the bone. I began making this as a way to use parts of the breast, plus legs and wings. Just about everyone has a bag of turkey pieces that fits this description, and they are the last to be used, so dig that bag out of the freezer and get ready to turn it in to something good.

The blackened seasoning is added after the turkey is cut into roughly bite-sized pieces. I use Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic blend, like I do on most fish. This is one of those things you can’t take away if you use too much, so be careful. I don’t want it as thick as when actually blackening something, but I am using it as a salt/pepper/spice seasoning.

(Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

This light blackening is best done in a cast-iron pan, which distributes the heat well; I use a deep pan so I don’t have to be as careful stirring. The little bit of olive oil helps prevent scorching the butter. As this is not an actual blackening, it is done over medium to medium-high heat and does not make the cloud of smoke that accompanies most blackened preparations.

Different ways to season

I shake a little more of the blackened seasoning on the vegetables while warming them. A bit of butter helps the seasoning bind to the vegetables and helps keeps them from scorching. My personal preference is to add a little fresh ground pepper after adding the soup and reintroducing the turkey, but I caution that it reacts with the blackened seasoning and can get spicy quickly. If you are preparing this for folks with mild palates, this might be best left out; let them add it to their personal tastes once its on their plate. I find there is enough salt in the blackened seasoning and don’t add any, but everyone’s tastes may be different.

There is a little difference in the tubes of crescent rolls and dough. This works fine with the store brands, but the name-brand doughs seem to be a little flakier. Making this using crescent rolls seems to make it more of a fun dish, where the pies can be picked up and eaten much like regular bread. Using crescent dough sheets allows for making larger pies that hold more of the turkey/vegetable/soup filling and serve as the featured entrée for a more formal meal. I prepared it both ways for this as that was what I had for crescent dough.

I like this recipe, as it is easy, versatile and tasty. In addition, it works well using pieces of turkey that aren’t perfect. There are only a few minutes of prep, and odds are you might have everything needed already in the fridge, freezer and panty. That makes it especially nice for these trying times.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 to 12 ounces of boneless turkey
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (You may substitute 1 drained can of mixed vegetables)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cans refrigerated crescent dough sheets or crescent rolls
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Blackened seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parchment paper to line shallow baking pan.

PREPARATION

Chop the turkey into bite-size pieces. Season the turkey (to taste) with blackened seasoning. Heat a quarter of a stick butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in deep frying pan.

Sear the turkey pieces in the frying pan and remove. Add a little butter and sauté the vegetables in the frying pan. Add the cream of chicken soup and stir well while warming. An option is to add a little fresh, ground black pepper at this point. Stir the turkey pieces into the soup and vegetables.

Line the baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Open the crescent dough sheets or rolls. With sheets, cut the sheet in half and place both pieces on the parchment paper.  With rolls, place half the triangles on the parchment paper.

Place a dollop of the turkey/vegetable/soup mixture on the dough. A third of a cup is approximately correct for the sheets and an eighth of a cup is about right for the rolls. Fold over the sheet or add a second triangle to cover the turkey/vegetable/soup mixture and seal the edges. You can seal the edges by pinching or pressing with the tines of a fork.

Bake at the heat and time specified on the dough package. This one was 12 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Watch closely near the end and let the dough turn a golden brown, but be careful not to scorch it. Lift each pie with a spatula and serve immediately.

A lettuce wedge or green salad is a nice start to this meal, and chocolate pudding makes an excellent dessert.

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