The Ultimate Turkey Sandwich

I teach informal cooking classes to my friends once in awhile, and recently we decided that we needed to go over some Thanksgiving basics before the big event occurred.

One friend is newly married and one is visiting her fairly new boyfriend's family for the holiday, and both wanted to appear with an arsenal of crack Thanksgiving recipes in their wheelhouses. They wanted, "Oh, here, let me whip up some gravy for you," and "Here's my amazing cranberry relish recipe" sorts of things that would wow and impress the families around them.

Instead of cooking a whole turkey just so I could have the drippings to work with, I decided to work just with turkey parts. This, my friends, was genius, and I may never cook a whole turkey again.

I called it my "deconstructed roast turkey," and friends, it was delicious. I just rubbed the skins of a few thighs, a breast and a leg with butter, squeezed a lemon over the top, and sprinkled it with thyme, then roasted them. I got great pan drippings and some really good turkey (mostly dark meat, which I love) to snack on.

We whipped up a red wine sage gravy, two kinds of cranberry sides, and dunked that turkey in everything while we sipped wine.

And then the next day, I had what is the best part of Thanksgiving, sitting in my refrigerator WEEKS ahead of time: the leftovers.

A turkey sandwich, my friends, is a thing of beauty. A turkey sandwich with red wine sage gravy? That's divine.

Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich with Red Wine Sage Gravy

Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich with Red Wine Sage Gravy by John Young

Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich with Red Wine Sage Gravy

For the gravy:

2 cups chicken broth
1 cup red wine
Drippings from roast turkey
1/3 cup flour (give or take based on the volume of drippings)
Finely minced fresh sage

Begin by whisking together the drippings and flour over medium heat, slowly adding flour until you get a nice, thick roux but not clumpy and dry.

Begin adding chicken broth and continue to whisk. Add salt and pepper slowly to taste.

Next, add the wine, and when your gravy is almost finished, add the minced sage and let it simmer on low for a minute or two.

For the relish:
1 orange, with the peel on, cut into sections
1 apple, cored and peeled and cut into large pieces
1 cup sugar
1 bag fresh cranberries

Toss it all in a good food processor and blend until it's all small and combined. That's it!

For the sandwich: On good sliced but hearty (not too soft) bread (I used an Italian sandwich bread), layer on a light smear of mayo, a slice or two of Swiss cheese, a few pieces of roasted turkey, and a generous helping of the relish. Cook the sandwich over medium-low heat in butter, like you would a grilled cheese sandwich, until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown.

Serve with sage gravy on the side, for dipping.

This is a sandwich to write home about. I might rather have it than the actual Thanksgiving meal, truth be told.


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