Let’s Talk Turkey! Part 2 – Hot 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.

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.

Wait…are you getting deja vu all over again??  Didn’t we already DO this article?

No, we didn’t, because those were COLD turkey sandwiches.  Remember I told you to put your dark meat into the freezer and keep it for a week or two?  Because dark meat tastes better hot and survives the freezing and thawing process better than white??  Yeah I meant that.

It’s ok if you didn’t believe me though.  You can make these recipes with any leftover turkey or chicken meat that’s been lurking around your kitchen asking a lot of nosy questions.  You could even cook some chicken or turkey JUST to make these recipes. You could even get one of those rotisserie chickens at the grocery store and use that.  I won’t demand that you reveal your sources.

Note about amounts – I had a really hard time being consistent with my amounts on these sammies.  I kinda measured, but the children were playing with the measuring cups most of the time, so I eyeballed it.  Plus a lot depends on how hungry you are and how many people you’re feeding. It’s really a more or less kind of thing on these recipes – use your judgement and let your appetite and personal preferences be your guide.  

Remember, you can always add more if you need to, but taking it back off again could end in dry cleaning bills.

The Pilgrim

When last we left our intrepid Thanksgiving leftovers, we decided that calling what is, in essence, one sandwich (the leftover Thanksgiving dinner sandwich with everything on it) three different names (the Puritan, the Pilgrim, and the Gobbler) was too confusing.  So we, meaning me, made the executive decision that henceforth the Puritan will be turkey and cranberries – so pure! – and the Gobbler will be this totally obscure sandwich that I have youthful nostalgia for. This is what electing me as your benign dictator will get you.  The trains will get there eventually, I promise.

That leaves us with the Pilgrim.   I hope you like starch, because this sandwich contains more starch than the entire wardrobe of Downton Abbey across its whole 6 season run.

Diced/shredded turkey meat

A scoop of leftover stuffing (I used boxed stuffing since my homemade stuffing was long gone, and I went light on it since stuffing + bread seemed like a lot of starch.  I actually think this was a good trade, because the saltiness of the boxed stuffing kind of worked here.)

A scoop of mashed potatoes – prebuttered, you don’t want these to be dry (even more starch!)

A scoop of cranberry chutney or similar meat-friendly preserve (I went rogue and used pepper jelly, since I had some on hand.  Please see “On Our Non-Existent Leftovers” below)

Leftover gravy  (I needed more than I had.  I used a packet gravy to test this, not homemade, and I needed at minimum 3 packets for all five of us to have enough.  I only used 2. I didn’t get very much, selflessly sacrificing my gravy for the sake of my family. I’m kind of a hero. I used turkey gravy, but it may have been better with country gravy.)  

Optional – mac and cheese (a lot of people, myself included, often make homemade macaroni and cheese as a Thanksgiving side.  This year I didn’t, and missed it. I think it would have been good here, albeit starchy.)

Optional – yams or sweet potatoes (I was out of these, so I didn’t try them)

Optional – Condiments, lettuce, tomato, etc (I saw several Pilgrim recipes that called for mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and even once, onion and pickle.  I cannot imagine any of these things being good additions and I can’t recommend any of them, but follow your bliss)

On bread:  While making cold sandwiches you may recall that they mostly tasted best on whole grain breads. Not so with hot turkey sandwiches. White bread all the way. I used a hoagie for The Pilgrim but any good quality firm white bread will work.  I would not use sourdough, though.

On our non-existent leftovers: Now, I realize that you have probably eaten or tossed your other leftovers by now (I did) but we’re going to pretend that we didn’t.  If you eat such things, use a box of Stove Top, mix up some powdered mashed potatoes (the Idahoan brand ones are better than you might think, but Betty Crocker’s are awful), a package or two of dried gravy mix, and some cranberry chutney (opening up a whole can of cranberry sauce for one sandwich seems like a waste to me).  If you can’t find or don’t like cranberry chutney, I’d use pepper jelly (I used pepper jelly) or cherry preserves or applesauce or even a little marmalade – you just want a sweet sauce with a more complicated flavor profile than strawberry Smuckers.

If you don’t eat those things, just save this recipe for when you have holiday leftovers on hand.

On canned yams – I find canned yams practically inedible.  So if you want yams on your Pilgrim I would plan to cook a yam for the occasion and forgo the canned yams.  And if you’ve never tried fresh yams and think you hate them, try the real McCoy before writing them off totally.  

Here’s my recipe for the best yams ever – if you think you don’t like yams, but all you’ve ever had is really complicated yam casseroles (particularly if made with canned yams) with marshmallows/pineapples/pecans or other extraneous ingredients, try this one instead.  

Yams.  Just like with many things in life, such as love and superhero movies, they’re only bad when they’re overcomplicated.

World’s Easiest Candied Yams

Yams or Sweet potatoes (I prefer sweet potatoes, my husband prefers yams.  This is like the world’s shortest O. Henry story.)

Brown sugar (An ample supply)

Peel, chop, and boil your desired amount of yams or sweet potatoes til tender.  Drain well and transfer into a casserole dish and top with a layer of brown sugar. Not a sprinkling, a layer.  I usually use a generous cup of brown sugar for 4 yams, but it’s a more or less thing – if you put on too much sugar it just melts off anyway so better to err on the side of too much rather than too little.  Do NOT cover – you want much of the moisture in the yams to bake away. Bake in the oven – top rack – at 350 for 45-50 minutes or even more until the sugar has completely melted and caramelized around the potatoes (if you still see visible crumbles of sugar on them, cook em longer.)

I know it seems like this should have butter or salt but resist the temptation till you’ve tried them without.  Yams have small amounts of naturally occurring sodium and I don’t find they need (or are improved in any way) by the addition of anything salty.  Or oily for that matter. They’ll candy up just fine with the brown sugar alone.

Sandwich assembly: To assemble The Pilgrim you are basically trying to fit all this stuff onto one sandwich.  I ended up putting a hoagie on a plate and then making it open faced. My husband said it needed butter – although I think this might be mitigated if one used the mac and cheese option – and he skipped the pepper jelly component.  You may think “yams could not be good on this” and skip them, too (which I did because I was out) BUT candied yams with stuffing and macaroni and cheese is really, really good. I know it sounds like it shouldn’t be, but it be.

I debated on what would be better – heating before and assembling after using the hot foods, or assembling cold and heating after.  Since I was putting this together using non-existent leftovers, most everything I used was already warm, so I went with it and then just gave the whole thing a little extra heat from the microwave right before serving.  But if you’re using cold leftovers, I would consider putting the whole thing together and then reheating it – covered – in the oven. It’s really too dense to effectively microwave if it’s totally cold  – the edges will get overdone before the middle is heated through. Plus, heating sandwiches up in the oven adds a nice toasty quality to them.

Sandwich analysis: The Pilgrim seemed more of a gimmick than a sandwich.  It was ok, and super Thanksgiving-y, but I couldn’t help but wish for a little less stuff on it.   Some discernment may be called for. Puritan forebearance, even. My husband liked it, but remember he was smart and skipped the pepper jelly.   Maybe cranberries would have worked better, but I doubt it.

Gravy and jelly is not a match made in Sandwich Heaven.

I suspect, given my strange affinity for yams with stuffing and mac and cheese, that the optimal iteration of this sandwich might be turkey, stuffing, homemade mac and cheese, and candied yams.  I would likely skip the potatoes and gravy in this case. (I hereby dub the sandwich of turkey, stuffing, mac and cheese, and candied yams, the Heretic). But let’s just take this sandwich for what it is – bread with all your Thanksgiving leftovers piled onto it.  Like good Pilgrims, if it tastes more like a Hieronymous Bosch painting than a sandwich, it shall be our penance.

It’s The Pilgrim, pilgrim.  Unpredictability is within its nature. Where will it go? Who can say? Only God.  Let it meander out yonder and wonder, “Whither will it wander?”

The Blue Plate Special Sandwich

A blue plate special in its non-sandwich form is a cheap, all in one dinner, apocryphally served on a blue plate.  The legend holds that during the Depression, some company made a bunch of cheap plates that were either blue or had a blue willow pattern.  They were so cheap that all the restaurants bought them and served a cheap meal for 2 bits (which may be 10 cents, 20 cents, or a quarter depending on who you talk to, and if you’re talking to a pirate, he will cut a doubloon into 8 pieces and give you two of them – the original 2 bits.)  

But as so often holds true, the myth doesn’t seem to have basis in fact, since “blue plate specials” were widely advertised during the Twenties and date back at least as far as 1892.  Blue Plate Specials were most likely originally served at Harvey Houses– the first nationwide chain of restaurants in America. Harvey Houses were diners that were built right into train depots and the first one was in Topeka, Kansas, in 1872.  (This is our official Kansas sandwich, y’all). Until then people had to bring their own food onto trains – and if you’ve ever eaten on a modern train, you know that would be an improvement. But in the day of the Harvey Houses, train food was yum.

The founder of Harvey Houses, Fred Harvey, was known as a downright stickler for cleanliness and quality food.  So the Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad, recognizing a good thing when they saw one, partnered with Harvey Houses to build Harvey Houses every 100 miles along the whole of the AT+SF and even hauled fresh ingredients via train to each Harvey House.  By the end of the Harvey House era, there were 47 restaurants, 15 Harvey House hotels, and 30 Harvey House dining cars on the Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa FeHarvey Houses were so popular that they helped to create the tourism industry in the American Southwest, making the Grand Canyon an Official Thing and probably leading directly to the creation of the tv show Breaking Bad.

The widespread existence of Harvey Houses is one of those things I’ve uncovered over the course of these articles where I just scratch my head and wonder that I never knew about this tasty hunk of Americana.  I know a lot of random food-related crap and yet I never knew about Harvey Houses.  It seems like a huge and inexcusable gap in my knowledge. I had to read The Cask of Amontillado 17 times during my school years – surely, during one of those mind-numbing rereadings, I could have been learning about Harvey Houses instead.  It seems the Department of Education had far more invested in teaching me how to entomb my foes than about important moments in restaurant history.  But both things are equally important!

Anyhoo, The Blue Plate Special Sandwich is a full meal  – meat, potato and gravy, bread – at a low, low price.  No substitutions, no special orders. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.   In a traditional blue plate special, the roll usually comes on on the side of the blue plate with one of those irritating, hard as a rock butter pats.  But since this is a sandwich article we’re going to treat the roll as our bread.

Since this is a pretty easy sandwich, let’s make some bread for it.  As it happens, I have a really good roll recipe. It’s adapted from The Victory Garden Cookbook, (1982 edition) which is a wonderful cookbook that I recommend tracking down if you like vegetables but have only ever experienced them out of packages stamped with the Jolly Green Giant.  Helpful hint: never buy a vegetable cookbook made between 1985 and 2005, because everyone was obsessed with health foods during that time period.  At least till the end of 2005 when we concluded we are all going to die no matter how crunchy our vegetables are. TVGC is from an era where food was still all about wine and butter and bacon bits and creams both sweet and sour, and most important of all, cooking vegetables til they’re actually done. Plus, The Victory Garden is an American institution in and of itself, the oldest and longest running American tv program on gardening.

Jane’s Potato Rolls (or bread)

2 packages dry yeast (I just use a couple spoonfuls, I find yeast to be a very forgiving critter)

¼ c sugar

1 T salt (this seems like way too much salt.  I never use this full amount)

1 stick of butter

2 1/4 cups water

1 potato, peeled (you want to end up with a cup of mashed potato or so at the end of all this, so select your potato accordingly.)

5-7 cups of flour  (bread is such a tetchy thing, especially potato breads)

Chop your peeled potato into small pieces to cook fast and boil it in the water till the potato chunks are mashable (I have used powdered mashed potato mix in lieu of the real potato but I’ve found it takes just as much work since you have to do a lot of measuring and math equations to end up with precisely a cup of mashed potato). Mash the potato as thoroughly as you can and drop in the stick of butter to help cool the liquid more rapidly. Allow the potato/water/butter mix to cool to lukewarm (do not be tempted to rush this, you’ll kill the yeast if the water is too hot). Once the mixture is cooled and the butter has melted, transfer to your mixing bowl and stir in the yeast, the salt, and sugar.  Let it sit for a few minutes till the yeast starts to proof (foam and bubble) and then mix in 2 cups of flour, till well combined.

Add in one more cup of flour and mix again.  The dough should be looking a little more “doughy”.  Then carefully add in the next cup of flour and assess the situation.  This is where you have to use your gut instinct – too much flour is a disaster, worse than not enough, so err on the side of less, even if the dough is a bit sticky and you have to oil your hands to touch it.   (Remember, the number one mistake people make when baking bread is putting too much flour into it. Use the barest minimum.) Potato dough is a dense, heavy dough even under ideal circumstances, so err on the side of slightly less flour rather than too much.

You will likely need to add 5-6 cups, maybe even up to 7 depending on how big the potato was, but at the end of it you should have a slightly sticky, but not TOO sticky, dough to work with.  Put it in a warmish place and let rise till doubled – many books say this takes 2 hours or so but my bread has always doubled much more quickly than that.

In the meantime, you will want to grease a rectangular pan, like you put a lasagna or or a sheet cake into.  Mine is 13 ½ by 10 inches, which appears to be somewhat of an oddball size probably because I got it at a church rummage sale rather than Williams Sonoma, but 13 by 9 will also work.  

With lightly greased hands, split this dough into 12 (or 18, or 24, because 12 makes some pretty huge rolls) fairly equal size pieces and arrange them in your pan in a 3×4 array (or 3×6 or 4×6 depending on how many balls of dough you made. Your rolls will change in size accordingly). As you put your dough balls into place, roll them between your greased palms to give them a nice round shape. Let the rolls rise again till doubled, however long that takes. Their sides will end up touching – that’s to be expected.  Once they’re baked you will be able to break them apart easily along these yeasty fault lines. You can tell your rolls are ready to bake when you poke them and you leave a lasting imprint. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes (but check after 20, and then again at 25!).

So, now that we have our rolls, onto The Blue Plate Special.

If you have a blue plate, that’s awesome, if not, I ~guess~ you could use a different color plate.  If you HAVE to. Just don’t tell me about it, though.  Let me dream.

Leftover turkey or chicken (shreds or slices or chunks)

Leftover mashed potatoes (I used boxed and they were good, and also in keeping with the spirit of a roadside diner. You’ll also want them to be on the slightly thinner side, not very thick.)

Butter (soft!)

Rolls

Gravy  (you’re going to need a lot of gravy.  I learned my lesson from The Pilgrim and made extra gravy, 3 whole packets worth, and I also used country gravy, which was really really good here.  If you are a better quality human than I, please use homemade and tell me how amazing it was.)

Sandwich assembly: Break your roll in half.  If using storebought rolls, you may need two – you want to approximate a couple pieces of bread, or a hoagie, only made from rolls.  Butter your rolls with that nice soft butter and lay them, open faced, on your plate. Top with turkey, then the hot mashed potatoes, more butter, and gravy on the top.  Forget you ever heard the word “cholesterol”.

Suggested side dishes: Technically, if you want to go full Blue Plate, you’d have some sort of vegetable with this. Buttered corn or string beans or those peas and carrots mixed together. Or perhaps a small bowl of iceberg lettuce mixed with a few tidbits of shredded red cabbage, floating in a pool of greasy French dressing.  For dessert, chocolate pudding from a can or a square of red jello with a swirl of whipped cream on top. And coffee. Lots of black coffee.

Also, someone needs to invent a scented candle called “old grease and cigarette smoke” to be burned during meals such as this.  And wear a hairnet if you have one.

Sandwich analysis: This sandwich really did feel like it came from another time.  In a good way. Classic. So so so so good. We all liked this.  The boys asked for seconds and NOT in exchange for dessert. Plus, it was a very affordable meal and it was easy (which between making sandwiches and writing about sandwiches, I needed a gimme here).  

The Blue Plate Special Sandwich totally gets my atomic Sandwich Seal of Approval.

Turkey a la King

Our previous turkey sandwiches, both hot and cold, have been pretty darn Thanksgiving-y.  They taste like fall and hayrides and football games and sweatervests and you want to wash them down with a big glass of cider.

But most of us are looking down the barrel of a loaded Festivus pole right now.  You’re probably wondering, “But Kristin, I have people coming over in a couple days and do you have anything I can cook for them from my Thanksgiving leftovers that seems more in keeping with the spirit of the season?” and the answer is of course I do!  And even better it’s also super all-American and historical.

Delmonico’s was a New York institution of a restaurant started by a family of Swiss immigrants that opened in 1823, burned down several times, and then closed permanently in 1923.  Isn’t it weird to think about that? A world famous restaurant that lived for 100 years and then died…100 years ago? That’s crazy. Kind of puts the transitory nature of the ol’ human life into perspective, doesn’t it?  Just think, someday, someone in the future will be writing an article about the 21st century and and the Kardashians will thankfully be no more than a minor historical footnote therein.

People like Dickens, Tesla, and Napoleon ate at Delmonico’s, although maybe not at the exact same time.  In 1927 an enterprising guy named Oscar Tucci bought the name and location right out from under the then-impoverished Delmonico family.  After enjoying a hearty run as a speakeasy, he kept the joint going after Prohibition by serving the exact same recipes that the Delmonico family used, calling this “new” restaurant he had totally just invented “Oscar’s Delmonico”.  He did this without the Delmonicos’ permission, which seems like a really dickish thing to do.  Apparently humans were big fat jerks even back in olden times. After Oscar, some entrepreneur or another has kept the name going ever since but the realio trulio Delmonico’s was dead and gone a century ago.

An interesting tidbit about Delmonico’s is that it was the first American restaurant that allowed people to order a la carte.  In the past, when dining at restaurants you had no options.  You had to order table d’hote which meant you had to order a whole meal at set price.  No one asked “soup or salad”, they made that decision for you and you had to pay what they said you had to pay even if you most certainly did NOT want fries with that.   It was a major advance to be able to order a separate appetizer, entree, dessert all for different prices and Delmonico’s started it.

It is said that eggs Benedict, baked Alaska, lobster Newburg, and yes, indeed, Chicken a la King were invented at Delmonico’s, among many other specialities.  Most of these recipes are said to have been invented by the head chef at the original Delmonico’s, a guy named Charles Ranhofer. Or possibly this other head chef at the original Delmonico’s, a guy named Alessandro Filippini.  Or maybe some people who were not even associated with Delmonico’s.  Like so many recipes, their true origins are really lost to time.

I used several recipes I have from old cookbooks to come up with the recipe below.  All the recipes I have for Chicken or Turkey a la King make a MASSIVE amount of food suitable for serving from a chafing dish to the entire Ladies Auxilliary so I have cut it down to a family size meal.  If you need more, it’s easy enough to increase the amounts.

The equivalent of two breasts of chicken or 2 ½ c leftover turkey cut into bite size pieces (you can make this recipe with raw poultry, which may be handier for you.  It was for me as I was out of turkey by the time I got to this recipe.)

A stick of butter, plus extra butter for your toast points

One green pepper and one red pepper, minced (if you’d like, you can sub in a jar of pimientos for the red peppers here.  According to my cookbooks the pimiento is authentic, but I like red peppers because I am a mother and they have a lot of Vitamin C. Mothers are always on the hunt for Vitamin C.  You gotta have both red and green, though.  It’s festive. Also, remember, cutting your veg into smaller pieces makes for quicker cooking and easier eating.

½ lb sliced mushrooms

Generous amount garlic, minced

½ c flour

1 c whole milk

1 c chicken broth or water (broth is better, but if you use a lot of garlic and salt, it hardly matters)

Salt, paprika, parsley, and black pepper to taste

Bread (gotta be white)

Optional: ½ c frozen Peas  (I didn’t, but you can.)

Optional: Splash of wine or sherry (Alcohol doesn’t last long in this house, but it would have been good)

Optional: Nutmeg (Y tho?)

On cooking raw chicken if using it:  If you’re using the raw chicken option, melt the butter and cook the chicken in the butter till it’s about halfway done, then add the garlic, peppers, mushrooms, and frozen peas, if using, and cook them. By the time the veggies are done, the chicken will be too, and without overcooking it into rubber. (DO NOT add the garlic too early, as garlic cooks fast, and burnt garlic is inedible.)

On nutmeg: If you haven’t picked up on this already I think that too much and the wrong type of seasoning ruins a LOT of recipes, especially for novice cooks who don’t know any different.  Let my sad experience be your guide. I spent years wondering why I was a horrible cook and why no one enjoyed my tuna casseroles with cinnamon in them or my desserts that contained allspice and rosemary.  It was a hard earned lesson I eventually learned, that just because some idiot writing dozens of recipes to meet a deadline for Better Homes and Gardens puts a large quantity of exotic spice into a dish, those of us cooking at home don’t have to include it in our version of the same.  So while nutmeg was included in many versions of Chicken//Turkey a la King that I read, it just didn’t feel right to me.

Sandwich assembly: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and cook the garlic, peppers, mushrooms, raw chicken and frozen peas if using them.  Let this concoction cool a bit and then whisk in your flour. I’d also add the wine or sherry at this point if you’re using it, to let everything blend.  It will be like a paste now. Then add the milk and broth/water if you’re using it and return to the burner. Over low heat, stirring constantly (you’re trying to dissolve that paste of butter and flour you made – use a whisk if you have one, it will help), cook till your sauce is thickened and bubbly.  You may need to add a little more milk or broth – it all depends on how much liquid your vegetables release. Don’t be tempted to crank up the heat to get it cooked faster – you want to give your butter/flour paste time to melt into the liquid.  If you cook the sauce too fast, it will be lumpy and not velvety like it should be.

If you have a helper, have them toast your bread in the meantime and butter it lightly.   If they cut the crusts off the bread and slice them into triangles, that’s what is called “toast points” and is the traditional way chicken a la king is served.  I never bother. If you don’t have a helper, try to do this yourself but keep stirring the sauce so it doesn’t burn or lump.

Once the sauce is very nearly done, that’s when you’ll add your cooked, leftover turkey if you’re using that.  Then you’ll heat the meat in the sauce (you could preheat it first if you’d like to be sure the sauce doesn’t cool too much). 

Taste the sauce.  It will need salt desperately, pepper to some extent, paprika in passing, and parsley perhaps.  Nutmeg, if that’s your thing.

Serve the sauce over the buttered toast points.   (You can, of course, serve this over rice or noodles instead, but I’ve tried both and neither are anywhere near as good as the toast.)

Suggested side dishes:

Wedge Salad

Remember that big jerk Oscar that bought the name and building of the Delmonico family when they were down on their luck, and then stole all their recipes too?  Well, he actually invented this simple little old-fashioned salad so he wasn’t all bad. Every cookbook I own prior to 1985 has a version of Wedge Salad. It fell out of favor when eating more healthfully became a thing, but it’s making a comeback now that we’ve realized we’re gonna die eventually.

1 head iceberg lettuce (get a nice big fresh looking one, and not the sad spotted 50% off one)

Cooked Bacon (lots, crumbled into bits)

Blue cheese dressing (spring for the good stuff)

Optional: Blue cheese crumbles (I love blue cheese, but not everyone does)

Optional – fresh chives, minced (Get yourself some kitchen scissors.  Kitchen scissors will mince your chives easily.  I’ve never been able to mince chives into those pretty circles with a knife, but now that I have kitchen scissors I just cut them like trimming a Troll doll’s hair)

Optional: cherry tomatoes, cut into 4ths (this sounded really good, but at this time of year cherry tomatoes are bringing in premium prices and I had to skip them)

Optional: sliced almonds (untested waters, but as I was eating this, I thought “this needs almonds”)

On coring and wedging an iceberg lettuce: Hold your lettuce in both hands with the core down.  Bonk it – hard, but not brutally – on your countertop and the core will push up into the head and can then be easily removed.  Then, using a sharp knife (just use a metal one, not one of those terrible plastic “lettuce knives”, you’ll have eaten the lettuce before it turns brown) cut the core into 6-8 wedges depending on the size of your lettuce head.

Salad assembly:  On a pretty plate, chilled if possible, set a wedge of lettuce.  Drizzle the blue cheese dressing over the top, and then sprinkle with the bacon bits and then the optional additions of the blue cheese crumbles, the tomato bits, the chives, and the almonds (or some combo of them all)  I suppose if you really hate blue cheese dressing, you could sub in some other type of dressing here, but I thought it worked very nicely together.

Sandwich analysis:  I love chicken/turkey a la king.  I’ve made it many a time over the years and I always feel like a robber baroness as I eat it.  The addition of the wedge salad makes this a fairly nice dinner for really not a lot of work, or expense.  Open a bottle of wine and it’s a quick and dare I say, elegant meal you could serve to company.

My kids (as always) were less than thrilled about the peppers.  My husband, who also likes a la king usually, did not appreciate the mushrooms, which I normally don’t add.  But I liked the mushrooms and they added an air of grown-up-ed-ness that many of our nugget-based cuisine is generally lacking.  As did the blue cheese, which perhaps unsurprisingly no one ate but me.

Now, you may be thinking “but there are still a lot of turkey sandwiches out there to be made!  What about the Hot Brown?  What about the Albequerque Turkey?  And what about the Monte Cristoooooo??”

Some turkey sandwiches are simply too good to be relegated to the land of leftovers.  Some turkey sandwiches are national institutions that deserve their own moment in the sun.  Stay tuned, sandwich lovers!

Photo by Ruth and Dave Let's Talk Turkey! Part 2 - Hot 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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4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Turkey! Part 2 – Hot Turkey Sandwiches

  1. I am now wishing for turkey sandwiches…. or chicken or duck or …. hmmmm…. *daydreams*.

    Have you ever eaten goose? We had it at Christmas sometimes growing up but there were never leftovers to sandwich.

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  2. I’ve got to seriously object to the notion of dried or powdered mashed potatoes. Actual mashed potatoes are ridiculously easy to make and about three orders of magnitude better than reconstituted tuber glue.

    Cut up your raw potatoes into 1-2″ cubes. Boil them. I boil mine in poultry stock; you can use just water if you prefer. Periodically fish out a cube with a wooden spoon to test for its softness. When the tater cube is easily crushed, you’re good. Take ’em out, plop in a bit of milk and a bit of butter and some roasted garlic if you’re of a mind, and mash ’em up. Takes less than half an hour.

    My sweet potato / yam dish is easy to make in a sous vide but can be done baked a casserole.
    Cut up the tuber into 1-2″ cubes. Add in some agave nectar and diced chives. Then add in a canned chipotle pepper or two: de-seed the pepper, unless you want these guys really hot, but be sure to include the rich and smoky adobo sauce they come in. In my sous vide, I seal all this up and let it sit for a few hours at 195. Or, bake it covered in foil in a casserole at 425 until the tubers soften (smaller cubes cook faster) and the flavors mix. Sweet and spicy! And a very lively add to that pilgrim sandwich.

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