It’s only a few short days after Thanksgiving, and you still have half that 20-pound bird you roasted patiently waiting in the fridge. You meanwhile, have had Thanksgiving dinner, twice, and the thought of eating more roast turkey has you considering vegetarianism in more than just a fleeting manner. A little creativity on your part, or someone else’s, means the hard part of dinner is done. All that prepping and cooking is out of the way: now it’s down to assembly. In truth, many meals we prepare can be the beginning of the next day’s meal with just a bit of preparation and planning.
I enjoy working with food, subbing out the usual cut of meat for a substantive plank of fresh vege or replacing it with something I already have waiting in the wings, namely that 20 pounds of roasted turkey that rests forlornly, waiting to excite my palate once again. For me, that excitement comes in the form of a sandwich.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “What difference does it make if I eat the turkey with a fork, or laminated between two slices of Wonder?” And when you say it like that, it doesn’t. But let’s just get a few things straight from the get-go. First, I’m a bread fiend. I make more bread in a week than most make in a year, and I make several different kinds of bread, from hearty white sandwich bread, to whole wheat and multi-grain breads, to dark brown Bushman bread, and the rich buttery brioche I cover in pâté. Everyone thinks it’s the inside that makes the sandwich, but I’m here to tell you it’s really the bread. No matter how good your sandwich ingredients are, if your bread disintegrates before the second bite, you may as well have left it in the bag and used a knife and fork instead.
Secondly, I rarely eat a sandwich cold. Aside from PB&J, I grill or broil just about every other handheld concoction I can imagine. A warm sandwich feels more like a meal, and let’s face it, there is something about melted cheese that just makes me smile. If you’re looking to cut calories, heating cold cuts releases some of their natural juices reducing the need for sauces and condiments like mayo and vinaigrettes. And with winter approaching, meaning colder temps for much of the northern hemisphere, a warm sandwich heats you up.
Lastly, dressing the sandwich is just as important as choosing the meat and cheese. Try a generous dollop of pesto in place of mayo, or better yet, add a tablespoon of sugar and a minced chipotle pepper with its adobo sauce in a cup of mayo for some sweet heat. And since we’re talking about Thanksgiving, consider spooning some of that delicious stuffing and a dollop of cranberry chutney (or apricot preserves) on a nice slice of turkey breast, topping it with a mild cheese like provolone or munster and grilling everything between two slices of a hearty white or sourdough bread. Whatever you decide, that bird can be the foundation of many different sandwiches, all with a flavor profile that doesn’t say: Thanksgiving Dinner, again.
Hot Turkey Tartine
- 1 loaf of dense artisan bread such as pumpernickel, dark rye (without caraway seeds) or Bushman Bread cut into ¾-inch thick slices
- roasted turkey breast-half and thigh, diced (about 6 cups)
- 1 scant cup celery, chopped
- 1½ cups slivered almonds, toasted
- 1½ -2 cups real mayonnaise
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 T. white wine vinegar
- 1 T. ground mustard
- ½ t. black pepper
- 1 cup shredded fontina and gruyere mixture (2 ounces of each)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Arrange the bread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Mix the mayo, honey, soy sauce, vinegar, ground mustard and pepper in a mixing bowl. Combine the diced turkey, celery, and almonds in another large mixing bowl. Thoroughly combine the mayo mixture into the turkey. Top each slice of bread with a generous ¼ – ½ cup of turkey mixture and top with shredded cheese.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese has melted and is starting to brown. Serve immediately.