Skillet Turkey Pot Pie & the Difference Between Boiling & Simmering

Skillet Turkey Pot Pie

This recipe is excerpted from my e-book “I Can’t Even With Pumpkin Spice: 21 Recipes Celebrating the Real Flavors of Fall.” Order it here!

I realize spring has sprung for most of the country but my kitchen and my dinner table seem to be stuck in winter. I’m still craving comfort foods, braises and stews, the hallmarks of fall and winter cooking, even as temperatures climb and flowers bloom. Hence, this Skillet Turkey Pot Pie, which I’ve made twice in the last week. It’s so simple and so wonderfully rich and delicious I can’t resist it. My finicky 9-year-old declared it her “favorite thing ever.” (You can keep your Oscars, Grammys and James Beard awards. That’s the HIGHEST praise around here.)

The trickiest part of this dish — and it’s not tricky at all — is getting the sauce just right. It should be rich and creamy, simmered to perfection. Keeping the sauce simmering and not boiling, is key, because boiling  will cause the fat in the milk to separate and curdle slightly, leaving you with a grainy sauce.

The Difference Between Boiling and Simmering
Simmering and boiling are NOT the same thing. Boiling is hard to miss. Your liquid should be busy with activity with big, rolling bubbles moving all over the surface. Boiling is typically reserved for starches like potatoes and pasta and for blanching vegetables.

Simmering is a kinder, gentler version of boiling. The surface of your liquid should be scattered with small bubbles that  break the surface. Simmering is the middle-man between boiling and poaching.


Make sure the filling simmers, not boils. Boiling will give you a grainy sauce.

If your puff pastry gets too soft and sticky, place it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes until it’s easier to handle.

12-inch cast iron skillet
Wooden Spoon
Rolling Pin
Pastry Brush

Sweating Vegetables

Winter, why do you taste so good?
Winter, why do you taste so good?




Skillet Turkey Pot Pie & the Difference Between Boiling & Simmering

Entrées, Recipes, Tips

Leftover turkey


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced carrots (about 3 small carrots)
  • 1 20-oz package ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (from a 17-oz package)
    Egg Wash:
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped thyme and rosemary (for sprinkling on crust)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat olive oil in 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until evenly coated with oil and onion softens, about 1 minute.
  3. Stir in carrots and season with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Sweat vegetables until carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook until turkey is completely done. Add chopped herbs and cook just until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  4. Sprinkle flour over turkey and vegetables and stir constantly until flour is absorbed and pan juices thicken, about 1 minute. Add milk and simmer until sauce begins to thicken, 3-4 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and simmer again until sauce is thick and creamy, another 3-4 minutes and add peas. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. While sauce simmers, place thawed puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 12-inch square (or large enough to fit inside your skillet and cover your filling completely).
  6. Place pastry in skillet, using your fingers to gently tuck it in place. Whisk egg yolk and water together in a small bowl. Brush crust lightly with egg wash and sprinkle crust with 1/4-teaspoon chopped herbs. Bake until filling bubbles around the edges and pastry is golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving.
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Turkey pot pit

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