So Christmas is over for another year, and rapidly retreating into the tinsel-tinged distance. But your fridge, still optimistically chocked with enough food to feed an army, is looming high over the approaching New Year’s proceedings like a gastronomic Ghost of Christmas Past.
But don’t decry those heaped plates of leftover turkey and half-finished jars of cranberry sauce just yet – for in those scraps and cold cuts can be found the ingredients for the easiest, but arguably best, festive lunchtime treat: the turkey sandwich.
First, find the remnants of a loaf. Be it the granary batch bloomer you had toasted and buttered on Christmas morning, or the simple white loaf you dashed out for on Boxing Day to test all the marmalades and preserves you found in your stocking, begin by cutting two generous slices.
Toasting will help disguise any onset staleness, and will save the slices absorbing too many sauces and condiments – of which there will likely be many. For now, add mayonnaise to each slice and set aside.
At this late juncture, you won’t have the same choice of cuts as you did on Christmas day, but make do with whatever’s left. Ensure it is thoroughly deboned, and then throw as much turkey as you want on your sandwich.
However, don’t chuck it all on at once. Turkey is a notoriously dry meat, so add a little between each layer as we go, and you’ll ensure that this festive meat punctuates the other flavours at play.
Surely there’ll be a rasher or two lurking at the back of the fridge still, left over from one of those first days before Christmas – when you were enthusiastically fresh out of work and still getting out of bed before noon.
Fry or grill your bacon to crisp it up, and then layer liberally through your sandwich – perhaps adding pepper to taste whilst it’s still in the pan.
The Boxing Day cheese board is likely looking a little sad by now, so take whatever remnants remain and throw them into the mix. Depending on the cheese, you’ll have to tailor this step – a nice mature cheddar will sit contentedly sliced and unmelted on a sandwich.
A crumblier cheese, however, or a soft French offering such as Brie, will necessitate melting, so it may be wise to coat each side of the sandwich and put it under the grill on a gentle heat for one or two minutes.
This is where the options really open up. Cranberry sauce, of course, is a must when it comes to turkey. You’re unlikely to use the rest of the jar any time soon, so be generous – and the same can be said for redcurrant jelly.
Mustard and mayonnaise are, too, solid options. Spread thickly between layers to add more interest to your sandwich. We’d steer clear of good old ketchup and brown sauce – this is an occasion, so don’t be too pedestrian. Also, as lovely as mint sauce and horseradish were with your lamb shank and beef roast, respectively, they’ll bring little to the party here.
And, other than that, you’ve got free reign. Stick to these key constituents, and construction process, and your turkey sandwich will be so succulent, so textured, and so varied in flavour, that it might just rival Christmas Dinner itself.