For my money, the best turkey sandwich is turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayonnaise on sturdy sourdough bread. Maybe a leaf or two of iceberg lettuce. Squish it down and then gobble it up over the sink at about 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night.
Perhaps others are not as uncivilized. Their loss.
Growing up, my mother never fashioned the leftover turkey into pot pies, soup, creamy casseroles or turkey salad. We had the complete Thanksgiving do-over the next day — though it was always too short on stuffing leftovers. And we ate simple sandwiches.
Turkey is among the most popular, if not the No. 1, sandwich meats. We eat it year-round though hardly ever from a turkey roasted at home. Thanksgiving is our chance.
Make sure you buy a turkey big enough for leftovers. Figure at least 1 pound per person or 1 1/2 to ensure you've really got a lot for later.
Turkey is something of a blank slate and can be paired with many flavors for a sandwich. The tartness of cranberry, the sharpness of blue cheese, the earthiness of nuts, the refreshing sweetness of grapes and the kick of chipotle peppers can all cozy up to turkey, though not at the same time. Besides the usual white or wheat bread, consider my favorite sourdough or pita bread, English muffins, ciabatta or even bagels.
Lettuces of all sorts, plus apples, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes, are good accompaniments. Turkey really is an amiable sort.
The recipe included here for Barbecue Pulled-Turkey Sandwiches gives directions for homemade coleslaw and barbecue sauce. Impressive, yes, but you may not feeling like going the extra mile after a marathon day of holiday cooking. Buy prepared coleslaw and use your favorite barbecue sauce. I like to add freshly grated cabbage to deli slaw because it usually has too much dressing for my tastes. Buy soft rolls for this sandwich.
The famous Louisville, Ky., Hot Brown sandwich takes the turkey sandwich to a whole new level. The saying "gilding the lily" might have been coined the first time this sandwich was made at the city's Brown Hotel in 1926. Slices of turkey are piled on toast (you can cut off the crusts if you'd like) and then covered with a thin cheese sauce. Grated Parmesan is added and then the sandwich is broiled until bubbly and brown. Take it out of the oven and criss-cross a couple of slices of crispy bacon. See what I mean?
Turkey Sandwiches With Cranberry Sauce and Blue Cheese Butter is simple, yet sophisticated. Make it on multigrain bread. Arugula gives the sandwich a peppery note plus freshness.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8586.
Barbecue Pulled-Turkey Sandwiches
For the slaw:
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
For the barbecue sauce:
2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
For the sandwiches:
2 1/3 cups shredded cooked turkey (light and dark meat)
4 soft rolls (such as onion, egg, sesame or whole wheat)
To make the slaw, whisk the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and celery seeds in small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cabbage; toss to blend. Cover bowl and chill. (The slaw can be made 1 day ahead.)
For the barbecue sauce, saute bacon in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomato puree, apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup water, dark brown sugar, chili powder and ground cumin. Bring sauce to boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add shredded cooked turkey to barbecue sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until turkey is heated through, stirring occasionally. Split and toast rolls. Divide turkey and slaw among rolls. Press tops down lightly to compress, then serve.
Note: For a simpler preparation, use store-bought coleslaw and a favorite barbecue sauce.
Source: Bon Appetit, November
The Legendary Hot Brown
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of Texas toast, crust trimmed
Sliced, roasted turkey breast
2 Roma tomatoes, each sliced in half
4 slices crispy bacon
Paprika for garnish
Parsley for garnish
In a large saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and a thick paste or roux is formed. Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven-safe dish and cover with a generous amount of turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce over each dish, covering it. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 sandwiches.
Source: The Brown Hotel, Louisville, Ky.
Turkey Sandwiches With Cranberry Sauce and Blue Cheese Butter
2 ounces blue cheese (1/3 cup) at room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 slices whole-wheat or multigrain bread
6 to 8 ounces sliced cooked turkey
2/3 cup cranberry sauce
3 ounces arugula (2 cups)
Mash blue cheese with butter and pepper. Spread on bread and make sandwiches with turkey, cranberry sauce and arugula.
Makes 2 sandwiches.
Source: Gourmet, 2008