Food

5 ultimate recipes for the best Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches

Turkeys are huge, which means lots of leftovers. And what’s the easiest way to use up turkey leftovers? In a delicious sandwich, of course…

Despite being a thoroughly American tradition, Thanksgiving is becoming more and more popular on this side of the pond. 

It’s pretty obvious why: firstly, we hate to miss a party, and when has geography ever been a good excuse not to get an invite? And secondly: declare a holiday that’s largely food-based, and we want in.

Held every year on the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving has been an important part of American culture for centuries. Originally celebrated in 1621 as a harvest festival (hence the foodie focus), it was eventually declared a national holiday in 1863, meaning our Tater-Tot-loving chums could celebrate the creation of the US Constitution.

Thanksgiving has a food culture all of its own

It’s got a food culture all of its own – while we tend to eat turkey at Christmas, in the US the big bird (not that Big Bird) is saved for Thanksgiving. Popular side dishes include cornbread and the incredible-sounding sweet-potato marshmallow casserole. Who wouldn’t want to get involved in that? 

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Some of us even have actual American friends we like to help celebrate while they’re far from their own friends and family – and if you’re planning on cooking up a storm this Thanksgiving, you’re likely to be left with a load of turkey leftovers. So we’ve concocted the five best sandwich recipes for using up the meat (and cranberry sauce, and gravy…) 

All recipes serve one. You’re welcome.

Ultimate Moist Maker Sandwich

The Moist Maker debuted in an episode of Friends titled The One With Ross’s Sandwich – so it was pretty pivotal. The jury is still out as to whether ‘Moist Maker’ is the grossest-ever name for a sandwich, but once you’ve tried one, you’ll definitely come back for more. 

To prepare: Spread two slices of thick white bread with a thin layer of mayo, then top with sliced turkey. Dollop about a tablespoon of cranberry sauce onto one slice, then mash up a couple of balls of leftover stuffing, and add it to the other. If you feel like it, you can add any other leftovers that take your fancy at this point (pigs in blankets? In you go).

Pour about 200ml of leftover gravy into a pan big enough to hold a slice of bread. Drop a fresh slice into the gravy, leave it to soak for a couple of seconds, then flip it over. This is the legendary Moist Maker. Place it on top of the stuffing, add some chopped iceberg lettuce, then flip the turkey-cranberry slice on top and cut in half. This sandwich is certainly not a looker, but it’s really delicious. If you prefer your Moist Maker warm, you can heat up all the ingredients first – just make sure the turkey is piping hot.

(Top tip: to eat this beast, grab each half by its sides and tuck your little fingers underneath to avoid excessive fill-spill).

Double-decker turkey and bacon toastie

Hello, friend…

This recipe also uses up any nubs of leftover Stilton you might have hanging around, and has exactly the right combination of meat, carbs, salt and fat to make an eye-rollingly good sandwich.

To prepare: Lightly butter both sides of a slice of white bread, and toast each side in a dry frying pan. Fry six rashers of streaky bacon until crispy, and set aside. Add some slices of leftover turkey breast to the pan (enough to cover two slices of bread), and fry in the bacon fat until golden brown and piping hot.

Top a fresh slice of bread with half the turkey, three rashers of bacon, and some crumbled Stilton (or, if you’re not a fan of blue cheese, whichever type you fancy, as long as it has some bite). Place the toasted slice of bread on top, followed by some more cheese, the rest of the bacon and turkey, and another slice of bread.

Heat a teaspoon of butter – or, even better, leftover turkey fat – in the frying pan on a medium heat, and add your sandwich. To help it brown evenly, place a clean plate on top and add a couple of soup cans – this method also squishes the layers down nicely, for easier eating. When one side is done (it’ll take just a minute or two), add another teaspoon of fat to the pan, and repeat on the other side.

Leftovers sub with gravy dip

Leftover stuffing is a key ingredient for this sandwich

Forget bubble and squeak – this recipe is the best way of getting rid of everything that’s preventing you from cramming more Prosecco and cheese into your fridge. 

To prepare: In a bowl, mix together some chopped leftover turkey and cooked Thanksgiving veg (about 150g), a beaten egg, a handful of rolled oats and a drizzle of leftover gravy. Season with salt and pepper, and roll into four meatballs. If the mixture is too sloppy / crumbly (it can depend on what veg you use), add a few more oats / a bit more gravy until it all holds together. Place the balls in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, butter a mini baguette, add a handful of picked parsley leaves, and warm through a bit more leftover gravy. Fry the meatballs in a bit of butter or oil for about 10 minutes, turning regularly until they’re golden brown all over and heated through. Serve the meatballs in the baguettes, drizzled with more gravy, and with the rest of the gravy on the side for dipping.

Italian-style turkey melt

Cheese, please

If you’re fed up with Thanksgiving food, this simple sandwich, which can be served hot or cold, offers something a bit different. We like the kick of chilli red pesto, but you can go with green if you prefer.

To prepare: Heat some oil or turkey fat in a pan, and fry a few slices of leftover turkey meat until browned on both sides and heated through. Meanwhile, drain a ball of fresh mozzarella, and leave it to dry on a piece of kitchen towel.

Split a ciabatta or panini roll, and toast. Mix together two tablespoons of mayonnaise and two tablespoons of chilli red pesto and spread over both halves of the ciabatta. Add the hot turkey, and tear over some mozzarella.

Grill your open sandwich until the cheese goes oozy and slightly browned. Top with thinly-sliced tomato, a handful of basil leaves, and a drizzle of pesto oil.

BBQ turkey roll

Literally oozing goodness

This hot mess is incredibly quick and easy to pull together, but looks like it took some effort – making it the perfect sandwich to serve any lingering friends the day after your Thanksgiving meal.

To prepare: Using two forks, tear a heap of leftover dark turkey meat into shreds. Warm some leftover turkey juices or stock in a pan, and add the shredded meat to heat through – make sure it gets piping hot.

Meanwhile, make a simple coleslaw: Shred a quarter of a cabbage (you can use a combination of red and white cabbage, if you like), and one carrot. Add a good pinch of sugar, one of salt and two teaspoons of white wine vinegar, and toss together. Stir in a few tablespoons of mayonnaise until your coleslaw is as creamy as you like it. Or, buy a tub.

When the turkey has heated through, stir in enough of your favourite barbecue sauce to coat the meat, and heat until bubbling. Butter a soft roll, add some coleslaw and a big helping of turkey, and serve with pickles on the side, if you like. 

Images: courtesy of author / Unsplash

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