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Let’s Talk Turkey! Part 1- Cold Turkey Sandwiches

I have this very strange dream of cooking all the American sandwiches.  Why? Because sandwiches are delicious, not horribly complicated, and they’re a great way to learn about the history and geography of the United States.  Old and new, East and West, North and South, red states and blue. It’s a project I’ve set out to do several times and then been too broke or busy to follow through with it, but in this time of bubbles and divisiveness it seems like a noble cause.  After all, who can hate a sandwich? They’re both yummy and apolitical. Maybe sandwiches are just the thing we need to heal the rifts in our country and bring us together again – at a picnic table, in the sunshine, passing the napkins, talking about the things we all agree on.

Big T is tablespoon, small t is teaspoon, c is cup.

And by the way, this was a monster of a piece.  Testing all these recipes and writing up this long article in a year with freakishly early Thanksgiving was more challenging than I thought it would be.  If there are any errors please let me know because it’s entirely possible I messed something up, and use your best judgement…if one of my recipes calls for a cup of wasabi, for example, that may very well be a mistake, unless of course it was my famed Wasabi Salad Sandwich.

Do you by any chance have LEFTOVERS today?

Betcha do.

Let’s make those work for us and take a closer look at that All-American bird, the turkey.

Fun fact about turkeys – people used to think they actually came from Turkey.   This is because some Spanish traders took some birdnapped turkeys to Turkey at some point in the 1500’s and the turkeys were like “ok cool a whole country named after us, let’s lay eggs” and lay eggs they did.  They were domesticated and quickly spread all over Asia, Africa, and Europe, so quickly and thoroughly that they were referenced in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by 1602.  

Then the Pilgrims came rolling in and were all like “oh wow look those weird birds got here before we did, maybe they’ll show us where all the food is” but alas, they did not.  It took the Native Americans to do that and interestingly they brought deer to the party and not turkey.

That’s right, there was no turkey served at the first Thanksgiving.

The real reason why turkey became synonymous with Thanksgiving is because of this really awesome lady named Sarah Josepha Hale.  She was a prolific novelist and poet (her most famous poem was a little ditty called Mary Had a Little Lamb, you may have heard of it) and for 40 years was the editor (she genteely preferred to be called “editress”) of famed women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book until she was practically 90 years old (she died at 91).  (I hear she also really liked parentheses.)  Plus while doing all this, she raised 5 children without any help from her husband, who inconveniently died young, I assume after looking around and suddenly realizing he had 5 children.  Quitter.

Anyway, aside from all that stuff, Sarah Josepha Hale pretty much singlehandedly turned Thanksgiving from a New England curiosity to the pumpkin-spice-scented juggernaut of decadence it is today.  Not only did she never shut up about making Thanksgiving an Official Thing until Lincoln himself cried uncle and declared it a national holiday, she also liked recipes, a condition that appears to affect a great many female writers with 5 children (100% according to my sample size of two).  Two of her most-pinned recipes, if Pinterest had existed back then which it didn’t because everyone was too busy reading Godey’s Lady’s Book and dying of consumption to go online, were for roast turkey and pumpkin pie.  So even though those foods weren’t technically even eaten at the very first Thanksgiving, when we eat them we pay tribute to a really interesting American who super loved Thanksgiving and preserved the idea for you and for me, and that’s almost as nice in my book.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled sandwiches.  

The thing about turkeys is that they are big.  Making a turkey is not like making a Cornish Game Hen, chums.  I have heard turkeys hang out at Muscle Beach in their free time when not pecking things.  They do a lot of work on their upper body.  So unless you come from a humongous family of ogres that likes to gnaw on bones after dinner, you WILL have leftovers in some capacity.  After Ol’ Butterball’s carcass is cool enough to touch, pull off the remaining meat and save it for future sandwiches in a Ziploc if you’re a rich/normal person or if you’re me, in a recycled bread bag you’ve been saving to put Thanksgiving leftovers leftovers into.  

In fact I’m going to suggest you do just that – freeze some leftover turkey for next week because if I don’t break this article into two pieces, it would be way too long and no fun to read.  Plus this sandwich project is more work than you might think it is and my kids have the sniffles this week. Please take pity on me and freeze some leftover turkey.

I would suggest putting the dark meat into the freezer because it both seems to stay fresh longer than white, and tastes better heated than cold.  This is just in my experience; I tried to find some science to prove to the world that dark meat keeps better but I couldn’t really find anything. Just trust me, I’m a trained leftover turkey expert.   Fall back into my arms blindfolded and allow me to shove a turkey sandwich into your willing mouth.

The precious, precious white meat we will use up right away, for not only does it spoil within 72 hours if not sooner, it is much better cold than the dark stuff.  God knew what S/He was doing in the turkey department. “Thou shalt hath some bird for now, and some bird for-eth later.”

There are a couple ways to go with cold turkey sammies.  There’s the “salad” technique where chunks of meat are combined with sauce (usually mayonnaise or salad dressing) and veg, and then slices of turkey, like we do with lunch meat only with actual hunks of meat.  We already talked a little about turkey in our Club Sandwich article so be sure to check that out if you didn’t catch that.

Part 1, A – Turkey Salad Sandwiches

Making assumptions is generally wrong, but I’m going to make an ass out of u and me and assume that most people are probably already well versed in the process of making chicken salad, and tuna salad, and egg salad, and thus by extension, turkey salad.  You probably don’t need an official recipe for that (says the person who wrote approximately 20 million words about club sandwiches). Mayo, veggies – celery, onion if you swing that way, plus pickles – and chunks of meat. On bread, with lettuce. No tomato, it starts getting too sloppy.  

It’s a pretty easy sandwich.  I think you can handle it. Report back and tell me how many losses you’ve suffered.

My helpfullest turkey salad hint is to chop your plant-based ingredients into SMALL pieces.  For some reason, most of my adult life American culinarians were seized by this mass hallucination that people enjoyed biting into pieces of celery that were roughly the size of a late ‘90’s cell phone.  They do not. Tiny chunks of fruit and veggies, like, Tic Tac size, go down way better. It’s a sandwich, not a relish tray. And if you’ve had turkey salad sandwiches in the past and thought they sucked because the vegetables were on steroids and the combo was dry, try it again with smaller pieces of vegetable and pickle, or fruit if you’re adding fruit.  It helps with both the chewability and the dryness. The higher number of cut surfaces seem to transmit the sauce into all those formerly dry nooks and crannies or so I’m told by my crack team of sandwich physicists.

Instead of reinventing the wheel here I’m gonna focus on some slightly more exotic turkey salad recipes that despite their exoticity are just as all-American as the old standard.  But first let’s pause to learn the history of the humble poultry salad. We know that there are recipes for chicken salad in an 1847 cookbook called The Carolina Housewife written by Mrs. Sarah Rutledge.  So we’re going to call good old everyday turkey salad a South Carolina sandwich.  And we also know that in 1863, a Rhode Island restauranteur by the name of Liam Gray was serving fancypants chicken salad – with tarragon and grapes – at his meat market in Wakefield, RI.  Since his name was Liam and he was putting tarragon and grapes in stuff, it was obvious he was a time traveler from the year 1994 but that’s ok, origin stories are complicated sometimes.

Either way, this is all really good news for me because up till now I didn’t have an assigned sandwich for either South Carolina OR Rhode Island.  Sheshootsshescores!

The following recipes all serve two but can be multiplied as needed.

Waldorf Turkey Salad Sandwich

Once upon a time in New York City there were two hotels that were right next door to each other – the Waldorf, and the Astoria.  They were both built by members of the super rich Astor family, kind of to piss each other off it sounds like, on the spot of their old family manor.  Where their aunt still lived at the time. That, my friends, is how old money feuds, by throwing hotels at each other. Eventually, all was forgiven and they decided to join forces and turn their individual hotels into one ginormous Voltron of a hotel and the legendary Waldorf-Astoria was born.  

Then they both were torn down to make way for the Empire State Building.

You don’t get much more all American than that.

Anyway, the head chef at the Waldorf-Astoria was a Swiss immigrant by the name of Oscar Tschirky.  Even though his name serendipitously rhymed with turkey making him a welcome addition to this article, he preferred to be called “Oscar of the Waldorf” and he invented something called Waldorf salad which you’ve probably had before.  It has apples and walnuts and mayonnaise and celery and seems like it should be gross but it’s actually pretty good when freshly made, if you come at it without any preconceptions.

Over the years people have stopped eating this concoction as a salad so much, and crammed some meat into it and started eating it as a sandwich.  

In the interest of full disclosure let it be known I tested this recipe with chicken breast since turkey was not on sale, but all the same principles should apply.  I honestly think you could skip the poultry and make this totally vegan and have yourself a tasty sammie to eat while watching those horrific Sarah McLachlan commercials about abused animals, but that of course is a violation of the rules of leftover turkey articles.

1 cup diced or shredded turkey  (white meat only)

Half an apple (see, “On Apples” below)

1 rib celery (you’ll probably have some of this left over from your cream-cheese stuffed celery since everyone just licked out the cream cheese and left the celery.  You may want to rinse it off first.)

!!!!  Remember, small chunks on both the apple and the celery.  Minced, practically. You’ll thank me later!!!

Chopped walnuts (I used about a tablespoon, but I really like walnuts and could have done with more of them.  If you hate them, use less, or drop them totally.)

½ -2/3 cup mayonnaise (many of the recipes I read during the research phase of this operation involved half mayo, half sour cream – which sounds ok…or half mayo, half vanilla yogurt, which sounds ok for a vegan sandwich perhaps but not so hot for something with turkey.  I did not have sour cream or yogurt so I stuck with mayo and I liked it that way.)

On apples: Do not, I repeat, do NOT get Red Delicious apples.  They may be red, but they are not delicious. That is a misnomer.  In fact they’re pretty darn gross, most of them, so much so that they’re falling out of favor now.  I spent years thinking I hated apples because of Red Delicious.  My suggestion is a Fuji. Granny Smiths can be too tart, Honeycrisps are too sweet.  Fuji is a little sweet and a little tart, and they’re almost always nice and crispy, which is a prerequisite for this recipe.   

When working with apples, act fast.  They go brown. Have everything else ready, even mixed, before you violate the sanctity of that apple skin with the tip of your knife.  Then chop it up fast and mix it in quick. The mayo will act as something of a protectant – please don’t douse your apple in lemon or anything as that will alter the flavor of your sandwich.

On bread:  I ate this on white bread since it was what I had on hand and to be honest it wasn’t stellar.  This sandwich, indeed nearly all these sandwiches, need(s) a big sturdy piece of whole grain bread or two, preferably the kind with lots of nuts and seeds, as structural support.  In addition to being a 98 lb weakling of a bread, the white bread had an incompleteness of flavor that took away from the experience. Rye and sourdough, I suspect, would compete too strongly in flavor, so avoid those too.  Whole grain bread, the wholer the better.

Just mix these things up in a bowl.  Well, don’t mix the bread in there, silly, we’ll need that later.  Then, taste it. Does it need anything?? Poultry salad tends to be a bland affair and no one wants to have a bland affair.   That’s what marriage is for. (badump-bah!) Don’t be afraid to spice things up a little. Salt, pepper, a splash of lemon or vinegar?  Add it, baby, although do use the lightest of hands, since you can always put in more, but you can’t take it back out again. Too much seasoning is kinda like having an Ashley Madison account. 

Do you want grapes in there?  I don’t think so. I don’t think grapes are a great addition here (and I know this because I tried turkey with grapes a few times in the past because I have cookbooks from the 90’s when everything was all about turkey mixed with grapes, even pizza, and sadly I am not making that up) and the juice in them makes the bread soggy.  No grapes.    

Sandwich construction: Put a scoop on bread.  You could put lettuce or possibly a slice of Swiss or cheddar on this, but I didn’t.  

Sandwich analysis:  The salad itself was good.  The white bread nearly ruined it.  I ended up peeling off the bread and feeding it to the appreciative dog whilst polishing off the salad with a fork.  No one else in my family ate any. Fruit + meat + mayo is not their cup of sandwich.

Curry Turkey Salad Sandwiches

One of the fastest growing ethnic groups in America is South Asian Indians.  To celebrate their contributions to our (always? never? formerly?) great nation, I made a sandwich using a seasoning that they don’t actually eat in reality – curry powder.  Curry powder, despite its foreign connotations, has been a popular seasoning in America since there was an America. The earliest mention of curry I could find was in Hannah Glasse’s 1774 edition of The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, which was actually a British cookbook, but was widely used in the Colonies and the young United States.  Copies were owned by every member of the Trifecta Americana – Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.

That having been said, the origin of curry powder is not American at all but in keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, is about colonization.  South Asians use a variety of spices and combinations of spices in their foods and precisely none of them are curry powder. Curry powder is a spice blend invented for the delicate tongues of British invaders and from there it spread around the world worming its way into cuisines everywhere.

 1 cup diced or shredded white meat chicken/turkey (tested with chicken, humble apologies)

1 rib celery, minced

2 T dried cranberries

1-2 T thinly…THINLY!!…sliced scallion (that is a fancy word for green onion)

½-2/3 c mayo

1/8 t curry powder (I could have done more, but it was a pretty alarming shade of yellow)

Chapati or pita or whole grain bread

Optional – in retrospect, this would have benefitted from some cashews

Optional – and also some cucumber slices

Optional – and maybe some piccalilli or chutney

Optional – possibly a little extra cumin

Sandwich construction – Pretty much the same as any turkey salad sandwich, unless having it on chapatis or in a pita.  If you are, then change up your technique accordingly. Also, I really really strongly recommend using the cucumbers and the cashews.  I didn’t have any but I really do think they’d have elevated this perfectly adequate sandwich into exceptionality. I was scared about the curry powder and used too little, so please use more if you’d like.  But do put in much less than you think you’ll need to start with and taste as you go. I also added a pinch of cumin to mine and I thought it really gave it a boost, but I adore cumin – YMMV.  

You will want to let the salad sit for a minute or two after adding the curry powder because it does a kind of blendy thing where it tastes different after a resting period than it does right at first and you may find you want to add a little more.  

Sandwich analysis – I liked this sandwich.  It has a lot of potential. I think it needed more sweetness – so maybe the cashews or some chutney – and some cucumbers but I liked it well enough that I’m gonna be adding this to my turkey repertoire.  

Seattle Turkey Salad Sandwich

Sandwich evolution did not stop during the 20th century.  People have kept right on mixing up weird combinations of things and desperately slapping them onto bread, hoping that some hungry person sets aside their sensible natural revulsion to think “hmm I wonder what deep fried oysters and Hershey’s chocolate syrup on Tunisian flatbread does taste like?  I mean, they wouldn’t be selling it for $27 if it wasn’t like, totally super good, right?”

The following sandwich is just such a triumph of late stage capitalism.

If you’ve never been to Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market (founded in 1907), go there.  It’s fun. People throw salmon, you can put gum on a wall, and there is a museum of very large, used shoes.  Pike Place Market is also kind of disgusting now that I stop to think about it. Among the best non-disgusting parts of Pike Place is this store called Chukar Cherries where you can buy all different kinds of Washington cherries (it’s pretty much your one stop, cherry shop)  Because ever since George Washington chopped down that cherry tree so long ago, the state named after him has dedicated itself to seeking redemption in the eyes of all cherry-kind and grows lots and lots of cherries.

Again, I tested this with chicken.  It’s the limitations of poverty coupled with the considerable expense of dried cherries.  

1 cup diced or shredded white meat chicken/turkey

¼ cup dried cherries, cut into tidbits (I have kitchen scissors which made short work of this job.  I suspect cutting these up with a knife would be quite time consuming, so get kitchen scissors.)

2 T to ¼ cup sliced almonds or less (because my Waldorf Turkey salad needed more walnuts, I thought I’d make up for that by putting more almonds in this one.  I put in a full ¼ cup. That may have been a mistake. It was all good for me because I love almonds but I can see how it might have been too almondy for others.)

1 rib celery, minced

1 T minced onion (but only if you have a nice mild onion like a red one or Walla Walla.  If you don’t, skip this. I had a well-mannered onion but I suspect this could go very wrong if you didn’t.)

½ to 2/3 cup of mayonnaise (again, I saw variations of this recipe that called for sour cream or vanilla yogurt.  I cannot ever in good conscience recommend putting vanilla yogurt in anything that contains onions.  But the sour cream may have been helpful in this one.)

Salt and pepper to taste

Whole grain bread

Optional: Small amount blue cheese crumbles

Sandwich construction: I think we’ve got this down by now.

Sandwich analysis:  Keeping in mind that I had this on white bread rather than whole grain and that I think whole grain would have improved things enormously, I found this sandwich to be a little…IDK…cloying.  Forced. Contrived, even. It was like the sandwich equivalent of “Seattle Nice” – it seemed friendly but that was just a front hiding a seething cauldron of rage beneath it. If this sandwich had been a person, it would have been the type of person who goes around wearing a thick knitted hat and fingerless gloves even though it’s 85 degrees out and as such I declare it to be perfectly representative of Seattle.  This sandwich was a nice place to go for a long weekend but at the end of it you’re thinking “Oh phew I can go home now and eat something that doesn’t taste like cedar smoke”. This sandwich was like winning 116 games in the regular season and then not making it to the World Series.

In short, I really, really, really think this sandwich needed something more, or possibly less, than what it had.  So I would suggest trying the sour cream option – mixing half sour cream, half mayo for the dressing – or an variation I have seen in a few different recipes, tossing in a little crumbled blue cheese.  Blue cheese, coming as it does from a dank, moist, gloomy locale, positively riddled with mold and decay, is a great addition to any Seattle-themed sandwich.

Suggested Sides: Gotta give a shout out to Tim’s Cascade Chips. Totally a Washington thing. Also, addictive. When my dad comes to visit he sprints to the store to get them and then he weeps when it’s time to go home, not because he will miss any of us but because he will miss Tim’s.  Be warned, Tim’s Chips are really REALLY crunchy, so if you don’t like crunchy chips you won’t like them. If you do like crunch, your jaw will ache for months after eating them, but it’s worth it.

Spokane Turkey Salad Sandwich

Everyone who knows me or read that last recipe knows that aside from Tim’s Cascade Chips, I hate Seattle.  I have to. It’s the vow I took when I became a Spokanite, which for those who don’t know what that is, means I hail from the other part of Washington.  The name Spokane means “children of the sun” and if you’ve ever been to Seattle and wondered “geez how can they live like that, are they partially aquatic or something” let’s just say not all of Washington is constantly overcast.  You may be stunned to learn that there are portions of Washington that have sunshine and cactuses.  A land where people own Jetskis and picnic tables and no one ever wears parkas in August. It is a land of people who like making up their own personal sandwiches.

That’s right, this is my own personal sandwich.  I invented it the day after Thanksgiving a couple decades ago when I had a lot of rapidly spoiling turkey to use up, and I have made it ever since.  I’ve never seen a recipe quite like it published so I think I may have actually come up with something unique. (Reading the accomplishments of Sarah Josepha Hale, my historic sandwich seems much less impressive.)  I’ll name it after my much-maligned hometown of Spokane where it’s warm and sunny enough to grow lots and lots of tomatoes, unlike in Seattle where tomatoes are a lot less prolific not only due to the incessant cold dreary weather, but also because hordes of very large slugs patrol everyone’s garden, eating anything that looks even remotely delicious.

1 cup diced or shredded white meat chicken/turkey (as established, I used chicken, sorry I suck)

2 ribs celery, minced (you want this to be fairly celery-y)

1-2 T minced onion (for the sake of both authenticity and deliciousness, get a Walla Walla)

1-2 T chopped pickles (this is a fairly sweet sandwich already, stick with dill)

½ c mayo, give or take

¼ c American-style chili sauce, more or less

Whole grain bread (but of all these sandwiches, this one worked best on white)

On chili sauce: What, pray tell, is chili sauce??  I do not mean Thai sweet chili sauce or Sriracha or anything even remotely modern in flavor.  American-style chili sauce is a whole different thing. Kind of ketchupy but with onions and peppers in it…sort of a middle ground between ketchup and salsa.  Now, I make my own chili sauce (had to use up all those tomatoes I grew) and have never tasted store bought chili sauce.  But I have read about it extensively and it sounds like the best brand to get is NOT the ubiquitous Heinz stuff, but Homade Brand chili sauce.  While it’s mostly a California thing, I did some recon at my local grocery store and it was sold right there on the shelf so it does seem to be widely available.  If you can’t find it, I suppose Heinz will suffice but people online really did not seem to like it much.

Sandwich assembly: Come on, aren’t we past this, you and I?

Suggested side dishes: We have some really nice craft beers in Spokane.  If they’re available in your neck of the woods, check out No-Li and Iron Goat, where my son used to work.   I like the Iron Goat’s “Trashy Blonde”, but then again I would.  

Whew, that’s a whole lotta salad sandwiches, I know, so I’m gonna go light on the “regular cold turkey sandwiches” not only because I’m out of room, but also because I don’t think most people really NEED ideas for how to make a plain old turkey sandwich.  Here are a couple of the more interesting ones.

Part 1, B – Regular Old Turkey Sandwiches

Something I discovered while researching this article is that there are many names for Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches but they all amount to putting that aging food you have in the fridge onto some bread and then calling it either a Puritan, a Pilgrim, or a Gobbler.  They’re all the same thing tho – turkey and gravy and cranberries and stuffing and yams and olives maybe even. I think this is entirely stupid. If you’re gonna make a sandwich, let’s get some standardization going and we could have several sammies where once was one. And I don’t know ANYone who really packs all the leftovers on two pieces of bread.  I think the existence of that mythical sandwich is akin to the believing in the Great Pumpkin or Ashley Madison – a child’s fantasy.

So I’m putting my food down.  And also my foot down. The duck stops here.  Er, I mean turkey, I guess. I’m going to set some guidelines governing which ‘wich is which.  Firm. Clear. Definitive. Delicious. Call it the Second Mayflower Compact.

I hereby decree that the Pilgrim will be officially the sandwich with everything on it, and it will be covered in the hot turkey sandwich article because cold gravy sounds like a NOPE to me.

The Puritan and Gobbler will be covered below.  And then this article will be done at last and I will die briefly before realizing I also have to cook dinner for several people and have it done by tomorrow at which point I’ll resurrect myself and make rolls (why in God’s name did I not buy rolls?)  

Dear Ghost of Sarah Josepha Hale, please grant me strength.

The Puritan

The name Puritan, to me, conjures up something simple.  Austere. Just the basics.

A couple slices of white meat turkey (or store bought lunch meat turkey, I won’t judge, because I used store bought lunch meat turkey to test this recipe)  

Cranberry sauce (you can use storebought or homemade or even cranberry chutney.  I used homemade.)

A couple slices Swiss or Cheddar cheese

Hoagie or firm white bread (while I didn’t try it, I don’t think this sandwich would go well on whole grain bread)

Optional – stone ground or cranberry mustard

That’s it. It’s a Puritan.

Sandwich Assembly: Put cranberries on the bread  – and if you don’t have firm bread or a hoagie, toast the bread first so it doesn’t get soggy, but untoasted firm bread is best.  Don’t go overboard with the cranberries here, you want the flavor without being overwhelmed by crantasticness. Then the turkey and the cheese or the cheese and the turkey, in no particular order.  I like Swiss best, but cheddar also goes well with sweet and fruity flavors. Now, before you add anything else, taste it. I like it the way it is. But I can see how some people might find it a little TOO austere (particularly if using storebought cranberry sauce).  If you are one of them, adding a small amount of stone ground or cranberry mustard livens it right up, which may not be keeping in the spirit of Puritanism, but even the Puritans let their hair down and had witch-hunts now and then.

Suggested side dishes: Prayer.

The Gobbler

I used to work at the student union at Eastern Washington University.  We had an unusual but really good turkey sandwich there that we called “The Gobbler” and that’s the recipe I’ll share with you today – we’ll call this a Washington sandwich.  For those of us who spend too much time online, the name “The Gobbler” conjures up disturbing images from a very strange Wisconsin hotel that is sadly no longer with us. The Gobbler Motel was a time capsule of American architectural and cultural history and was for a time an official Internet obsession.  If you’ve never checked out James Lileks’ site and learned about the weirdness that was The Gobbler, please do, I promise you’ll enjoy yourself.  Make this sandwich in The Gobbler’s honor and eat it while you read and frequently exclaim “Dear God, what is that thing?”

A couple slices of turkey, either off the bird or from the deli (this sandwich was originally made with deli turkey but I’ve made it with regular turkey and it’s still good that way.  You may need to add salt to it)

A couple thin slices cheddar and/or provolone  (the original Gobbler had both)

Whipped cream cheese

Sunflower seeds

Cucumbers, sliced thinly

Mushrooms, sliced thinly (and I mean THINLY)

Hoagie rolls (this one just has to be on a hoagie, folks)

Optional – shredded lettuce or alfalfa sprouts.  (this mostly just falls off, so I skip it now, but the original had a little of both)

On mushrooms:  The original Gobbler sandwich was made with deli turkey, which tends to be moist and a little salty. When using turkey off the bird, it’s drier, less salty, and a little spongy in the same exact way that mushrooms tend to be a little spongy.  So take this into consideration and use really thin mushroom slices, and not many of them, if using turkey off the bird. Because you’ll end up with a dry, bland, and spongy Gobbler otherwise.

On the cheese: If there’s any way to use both cheddar and provolone, I suggest you do. Not only for authenticity but because it really adds something to the flavor profile of the sammie.  This sandwich, being sauceless, relies a lot on the cheese to do the heavy lifting in the taste department. And be careful with cheese substitutions, too. I made this once with Swiss cheese, and it was not so good.  No Swiss.

On cucumbers: The cucumbers make this sandwich.  Don’t skip em. And if you don’t have cucumbers, don’t bother making The Gobbler, it doesn’t work without the cukes.  It’s a peculiar sandwich, ok? Just stay on the trail, campers.

Sandwich construction: Take your hoagie and smear the top bun generously with the cream cheese.  Then sh– gets weird. Scatter a layer of sunflower seeds on a plate and press the becreamcheesed hoagie top into the sunflower seeds emphatically enough so the seeds stick to the cheese.  You’ll end up with a bun that has a lot of sunflower seeds embedded in it. Then, repeat the cream cheesing process with the bottom bun, but instead of dipping it in seeds, kind of press the sliced mushrooms into it.  You want them wily mushrooms to stay put. Once you’ve got your seed bun and your ‘shroom bun then you just treat it like a normal sandwich – layer of cukes, layer of turkey, layer of cheese, layer of sprouts and/or lettuce shreds, if using them (but really, you don’t need to use them, it’s all about the cucumbers).  Then slap it all together and eat it.

Sandwich analysis:  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that this cannot possibly be good, but it IS good.  I remember when I first started working at my student union job – I thought The Gobbler sounded vile even though my stepmother was a hippie and put sunflower seeds into practically everything we ate so it wasn’t a totally novel concept for me.  But it was our most popular sandwich. So many people ordered it that I got curious and ate one myself.  I took to the Gobbler with the zeal of any convert and still make them from time to time even now 25 years later. Give it a try. Make a small one – a Gob – and see if you like it before you go all in with a -ler.  I wouldn’t steer you wrong, American Sandwich Lovers.

I think that’s it for now!  Please remember, keep your leftovers in the freezer for Part Two of Let’s Talk Turkey.  

Or as I’ve come to call it,  “Kristin’s Folly”.

 

 

 

Photo by TheDeliciousLife Let's Talk Turkey!  Part 1- Cold Turkey Sandwiches


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Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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13 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Turkey! Part 1- Cold Turkey Sandwiches

  1. When I make Turkey for TG I always start the following day with a turkey sandwich and some pie, unless I’m making panatone french toast. There is never a bad time for sammiches.

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  2. Love the shade thrown at Seattle and the shout out to Walla Walla onions, the best and sweetest onions I’ve ever had and I’ve gone out of my way for Vidalias and Mauis. Plus they come from the town so nice they named it twice. I can’t say “Walla Walla” without smiling and I bet you can’t either.

    Your [bird] curry salad is a lot like my “regular” [bird] salad sandwich. I flavor the mayo with Cajun seasoning, but I’m right there with you on the dried cranberries, thinly-chopped celery, and cashews. Or pistachios if I’ve the patience to hull them. And yup it wants a whole grain bread. Not to get all mid-aughts with my sandwich construction, but what takes it over the top is a handful of bacon crumbles. Don’t need a lot — one rasher of bacon crumbled up is enough for two of these sammies. And I sometimes do add the cuke slices, sometimes not.

    If I wanted to make a gobbler, are there any kind of mushrooms I should seek out? Anything more exotic than a white garden shroom? Am I permitted to saute those shrooms in some garlic butter first? Yes, I’m thinking portabella here — it has a meatier, more substantial flavor than button shroom or a garden shroom.

    Looking forward to dark meat turkey sammies soon.

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    • I’ve fiddled around with mushrooms for a while, and on most things – especially proteins – have settled on a blend of shiitake, oyster, and bellas that works for my taste. I really like some of the more exotic mushrooms as well but I know I can get that mix pretty much whenever I want it.

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    • Yeah I remember the first time I had the prized Maui onion I was like “WTH is this travesty” because it wasn’t anywhere near Walla Walla levels of yum.

      I did think about bacon – several of these sandwiches would have been improved with some bacon.

      The traditional Gobbler was made with just your standard sliced white shrooms, uncooked. The mushrooms are definitely the weakest link on the Gobbler and I had considered on many an occasion using sauteed or marinated mushrooms instead, but never tried it.

      I’m intrigued by the fancy mushroom idea. If you try it, let me know how it comes out.

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