I’ve had my fair share of thanksgiving sandwiches. Not that it’s a tremendously complicated matter requiring some strict recipe, but all the same I thought it might be beneficial to consider what important considerations are involved in taking thanksgiving leftovers to the perfect sandwich.
The issue informing the entire construction is filling creep. Between the stuffing, the gravy, and the cranberry sauce, you’re dealing with a number of ingredients that are all too happy to pitch from hand to plate. No one wants to eat a limp, half-full sandwich and then have to fetch a fork to finish the job, so take some early precautions to avoid mishaps.
Firstly, use soft bread. This is important. Filling creep results when the frictional hold of your ingredients can’t bear the pressure of your bite, and the easiest way to reduce the pressure of your bite is to make sure your bread yields easily. The turkey is the toughest thing on the sandwich and whether it’s sliced or shredded there’s unlikely to be much resistance to your tooth, so once the bread gives way the whole thing should come away in a clean bite. But if you’ve got a stale or well-crusted roll containing things, good luck finding any sandwich remaining after you pull the old clamp-and-tear. Toast if if you want some crunch to things, but avoid a sturdy crust.
Personally, I like sliced bread, as seen in the Nobadeer from Jetties, pictured above. Avoid rolls like the one seen in the Thanksgiving on a Bun from The Village Bakery.
Using soft bread introduces the risk of things turning soggy, so one must compensate. A thin (and I emphasize thin) layer of mayonnaise on each piece of bread will help keep things from getting sloppy. If you don’t like mayonnaise, a thin layer of butter would have the same effect. If you don’t like either, careful sandwich construction and a haste in consumption should steer you clear of any trouble.
The third factor in filling creep involves ingredient ratios and layering technique. I can’t rightly tell you how much stuffing or dressing or anything else to put into your sandwich, but I beg you to remain sensible. Have two sandwiches if you suffer from insatiable hunger, don’t build yourself a tower that will only topple to terrible disappointment. Keep your gravy on the lesser side, my advice is to toss shredded turkey in a few spoonfuls of gravy, don’t just pour it directly on to your sandwich.
As for the stuffing and the cranberry sauce, some schools of thought put the turkey between the two, others put the two together on one side of the meat. It’s a question of aiming for one shifting layer instead of two, or instead trying to keep them apart so as to not allow them to combine their mispositioning power. I happen to think both settle about equally, so just run with whichever seems more sure in hand.
Above all, allow your layers to come in slightly as you build up. This allows the top slice of bread to bend down slightly and form a cap, allowing your hands to seal if off at the seams, keeping everything tidy as you eat. It’s a delicate trick that makes all the difference in the finished sandwich.
I think that covers most of the groundwork, but this is something that tends to vary quite a bit from person to person. I hope that your thanksgiving sandwich game plan steers you to a fine result, and I hope that if you’ve got some strong ideas you’ll share them with me.