Cravings for leftover turkey sandwiches
The day after Thanksgiving can’t arrive soon enough
Let’s face it, even before that first slice of turkey is carved, some of us are already scheming about what to do with the leftovers. Thinking about the post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, to be exact.
For many, even after all the planning and shopping and cooking (and cleaning) involved with preparing this elaborate feast, the very best part of the meal happens the next day when a re-creation of Thanksgiving is crammed between two slices of bread. It’s Dagwood Bumstead’s dream come true.
Still, the post-Turkey Day turkey sandwich doesn’t have to be the same-old, same-old stack of meat, dressing and cranberry sauce.
We asked some of the best chefs in the region to create the ultimate turkey sandwich, to think of this exalted bird as a blank canvas for some creative play. And these culinary pros rose to the occasion, proving that, among their many skills, they’re also gifted sandwich artists.
Doug Fisher, the head of the Inland Northwest Culinary Academy at Spokane Community College, says by the time Thanksgiving dinner is done, he’s ready for something completely different.
“I like to head in a Southwestern direction,” he says.
He recommends topping turkey with Monterey jack cheese, slices of avocado or guacamole, sliced red onion and tomato and then slathering a sturdy handmade sourdough bun with chipotle mayonnaise.
“You can make that by opening a can of chipotle peppers and spooning out some of the adobo sauce, mixing it with mayo and a couple of squeezes of lime,” Fisher says.
Christian Schultz, the general manager and chef at Moon Time in Coeur d’Alene, also favors looking south to create memorable leftovers. Instead of bread, Schultz tucks Thanksgiving’s superstars into a flour tortilla and grills it.
“On one half of the tortilla spread the mashed potatoes, then top with the turkey, parsley and smoked Gouda cheese,” he instructs. “If the gravy is congealed, spread on the unused half of the tortilla. If not, drizzle on top of aforementioned ingredients and fold tortilla in half.”
Instead of salsa, dip this turkey quesadilla into warm cranberry sauce.
Dave Hill of Hill’s in downtown Spokane offered up a grab bag of sandwich ideas: “How about a turkey, tomato, pesto and mozzarella on sweet potato brioche? Or a turkey Reuben with cranberry infused sauerkraut, the barbecue turkey po-boy with Napa cabbage coleslaw, a turkey dip with reduced turkey au jus or The Elvis – turkey, peanut butter, bacon and banana?”
Merrilee Lindaman says the post-Thanksgiving sandwich derby gets her fired up: “This is one of my favorite comfort foods!”
She typically turns to a variation of the classic Kentucky Hot Brown, an open-faced sandwich created at the venerable Brown Hotel in Louisville in the 1920s.
“You toast thickly sliced sourdough bread, top with sliced turkey, crisp apple wood smoked bacon, very thinly sliced, sautéed sweet onions and sliced beefsteak tomatoes,” Lindaman says. “Pour a parmesan and sharp cheddar cheese sauce (with a hint of nutmeg) over the top and broil until bubbly.”
It’s probably not the sandwich you want to make for that midnight snack on Turkey Day, but for lunch on Black Friday. (Following a 10-mile turkey trot or some serious retailing.)
From the ultra-rich to the super spare, Luna’s executive chef Brian Hutchins says that after all the over-the-top eating, he’s ready for a minimalist approach to the turkey sandwich.
“I would go with a little mayonnaise and a bit of cracked pepper,” Hutchins says.
How very Zen.
John Breckenridge, Mizuna’s new Culinary Institute of America-trained pantry cook, ups the chances for a post-feast food coma with his Monte Cristo sliders.
He suggests taking your favorite leftovers – turkey, candied yams – and stuffing them into dinner rolls, dipping those in gravy and then deep-frying.
Irina Burda from Latah Bistro also came up with a luxe preparation, combining the meal’s meat and potatoes into a turkey patty.
The chopped turkey and potato gratin patty is pan-fried until golden and sandwiched into a candied sweet potato roll. The savory sandwich is topped with spinach, a cranberry vinaigrette drizzled over the greens.
Coeur d’Alene Resort executive chef Rod Jessick might win the prize for the tallest turkey sandwich, a jaw-testing combination that includes Honeycrisp apples, candied walnuts, Cougar Gold cheese, homemade mayo, shredded romaine and sweet gherkins.
“It is great on home-baked fresh bread, but I rarely have time to make my own bread,” he says. “I like the mixture of ingredients because it brings out the tastes of Thanksgiving and satisfies the soul.”
When it comes to ingredients, Peter Tobin, a chef-instructor at the Inland Northwest Culinary Academy, brings home an essential message: “For a great sandwich, you’ve got to start with the best turkey.”
Tobin traditionally cures his bird and slow-roasts it, so it doesn’t overcook. The succulent white meat and moist dark meat are later piled onto thick slices of home-baked bread.
“You can’t be using Wonder Bread!” he says.
Sylvia Wilson, from Feast, suggests making a curried turkey salad with leftover bird and celery, onions, Craisins or golden raisins, ginger, cumin, coriander, tumeric and mayo. That intensely seasoned mixture should then be stuffed into a pita with spinach or arugula.
Such colorful imagery. Such clever combinations. It’ll be a Thanksgiving miracle if we can stay focused on the main event without thinking about these tasty coming attractions.
From Christian Schultz, general manager and executive chef, Moon Time, Coeur d’Alene.
1 10-inch flour tortilla
1/3 cup mashed potatoes, cooled
5 ounces roasted turkey, pulled
2 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 ounce smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
1/4 cup gravy, cooled
1/2 cup cranberry sauce or chutney
On one half of the tortilla spread the mashed potatoes then top with the turkey, parsley and smoked Gouda cheese. If the gravy is congealed spread on the unused half of the tortilla; if not, drizzle on top of aforementioned ingredients and fold tortilla in half.
Heat the quesadilla on a cast-iron griddle or large nonstick pan on medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes per side or until golden brown and the inside is hot.
To serve, cut quesadilla into four pieces and use heated cranberry sauce for dipping.
Yield: 1 quesadilla
Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich
From Rod Jessick, executive chef, Coeur d’Alene Resort, who tricks out turkey leftovers with Honeycrisp apples, candied walnuts, crumbled Cougar Gold white cheddar and homemade mayonnaise.
For the sandwich:
Artisan sourdough, whole-wheat bread (or I love it on Asiago focaccia or a good French bread)
Rod’s Homemade Mayonnaise (recipe follows), or your favorite mayonnaise
Romaine lettuce, shredded
Turkey breast and dark meat, sliced, or just small chunks turkey
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh Cranberry Sauce with Apple Cider and Applesauce, to taste (recipe follows)
Sweet onion and celery, minced (the secret ingredient)
Cougar Gold white cheddar, Gouda or your favorite cheese, crumbled or sliced thin
Thinly sliced Honeycrisp apple (or firm pears) (see note)
Candied walnuts, chopped or crushed small
Sweet gherkins, shaved into thin circles
Optional: Shaved Black Forest ham, such as Dietz and Watson, very thinly sliced
To assemble the sandwich, slice your bread in the manner that you like. If it is a whole loaf, I usually slice it in half lengthwise, lightly butter and toast the bread. This adds a little crunch.
Once toasted, spread the bread with mayonnaise, add shredded romaine, top with turkey pieces and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Add some spoonfuls of the fresh cranberry sauce and sprinkle with celery and sweet onion and crumbled white cheddar cheese.
Add the slices of apples or pears with a few sweet pickle slices and candied walnuts. Finish by adding some more homemade mayonnaise to the top piece of bread. It should be very full of ingredients.
Press it together firmly. Using longer bamboo picks or sandwich picks, put an apple wedge or some olives on the picks and pick the sandwich every 2-3 inches. Slice with a serrated knife and serve.
Note: Use a mandoline for nice even slices of apple or pear, or just a sharp knife will do. If not using them immediately, place slices on a paper towel dampened with lemon water and cover with the same to keep them from browning.
Rod’s Homemade Mayonnaise
From Rod Jessick. This recipe contains raw eggs; the consumption of raw or undercooked eggs carries a slight risk of contracting salmonella or other food-borne illnesses. Infants, children, older adults and those with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible.
2 extra large egg yolks
1/3- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon warm water
In a medium stainless bowl, whisk egg yolks, Dijon and salt by hand. Slowly drizzle in the oil, a drop or two at a time, constantly whisking. As it begins to thicken, add 1 teaspoon lemon juice, whisk, then 1 teaspoon warm water, whisk, then remaining lemon juice. (An electric mixer can also be used).
Adjust seasoning to your taste – you can use a little more lemon if you want, or the sky’s the limit. (On occasion, I have made this with juice from Sweet Gherkins or the juice from homemade bread and butter pickles instead of water. Kids like it a little sweeter than I do.)
Yield: About 1 ½ cups
Fresh Cranberry Sauce with Apple Cider and Applesauce
From Rod Jessick. “I always make this for Thanksgiving,” he says.
1 bag whole cranberries
1 cup apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
6 to 8 whole cloves
Sugar, to taste
1-2 cups homemade or high-quality applesauce (see note)
Place cranberries, picked over, in a 1- to 2-quart saucepan. Add apple cider, cinnamon stick, cloves and sugar to taste. Bring to a boil and add 1 to 2 cups of homemade or really good applesauce (try to find Gravenstein applesauce or one that is sweetened with fruit juice.) Cook and reduce for a few minutes and cool. Remove cinnamon and cloves. Chill.
Turkey Gratin Sandwich on Sweet Potato Bun with Spinach Cranberry Salad
From Irina Burda, Latah Bistro.
For the sweet potato buns:
2 cups baked sweet potato with brown sugar and marshmallows
1 cup milk
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
For the turkey patty:
Leftover potatoes au gratin
For the cranberry vinaigrette:
Champagne vinegar, to taste
Combine sweet potato and milk until smooth. Mix in 2 cups of the flour, salt, yeast and spices.
Work together, adding more flour until dough is sticky but not wet.
Let dough rise in a warm place for an hour. Form into 12 balls and proof until double in size. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
To make the turkey patties, pulse leftover turkey in food processor until it is chopped fine. Add just enough potato au gratin to form a firm paste. Form mixture into patty.
Whisk cranberry jelly until smooth and add champagne vinegar, to taste.
To assemble: Brown turkey patty in nonstick pan. Toast sweet potato bun. Toss spinach with cranberry vinaigrette. Stack ingredients on toasted bun.
Former Spokesman-Review staffer Leslie Kelly lives in Seattle. She is a contributor to Serious Eats.com and Amazon’s Al Dente food blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.