Thanksgiving Leftovers Experiment, Day 4

Day 4, and I belive I have developed the perfect hot turkey sandwich. Over the last four days, I’ve conducted a series of experiments to determine the proper order, layers and ratio of turkey, dressing, potatoes, cranberry, vegetables and gravy in the classic Thanksgiving leftovers open-face sandwich..

Key learnings:

  • The base-layer bread should be toasted to provide a different texture from the stuffing.
  • If using dark meat or a part of the turkey that doesn’t lend itself to thin slices, chop the turkey in to 1/3 of an inch chunks otherwise the sandwich will fall apart when you try to cut or bit through a big piece of turkey.
  • Do not apply cranberry sauce directly to the sandwich, instead use it as a side relish. If applied directly to the sandwich it liquefies as it heats and saturates everything, overpowering the other flavors. The alternative, is to mix a very small amount of cranberry with mayonnaise and apply the cranberry mayonnaise to the bread.
  • Order of ingredients is critical. The order ensures proper texture and flavor variation.

The optimal sandwich ingredients in order:

  1. one piece of toasted sandwich sliced sourdough bread
  2. thin layer of cranberry mayonnaise
  3. blend of light and dark meat, thinly sliced or chopped
  4. thin layer of stuffing gently pressed down on to the turkey
  5. lettuce leaf to separate the stuffing from the potatoes and provide just the slightest crunch
  6. scoop of mash potatoes
  7. a few green beans of brussel sprout halves sprinkled over the top
  8. a generous portion of gravy, enough to lightly cover the entire sandwich with some spillover to the plate

Heating:

I examined three heating options. The classic, throw it all into the microwave method, resulted in loss of textural integrity of the bread with some mushy parts and some unpleasant chewy parts. I also tried heating all of the components separately, but it was time-consuming and I failed to achieve the synergy desired. The best option was to assemble all of the ingredients except the bread on a plate, microwave them to the desired temperature then with a spatula lift the hot ingredients, and slide the toasted bread with cranberry mayonaise under the tower of turkey, dressing and potatoes.  This method resulted in the best texture and blending of flavors and just enough gravy under the bread to help flavor it without becoming soggy.

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Thanksgiving Dinner in One Hour

Yes, you can cook Thanksgiving Dinner in one hour.  Yesterday, while everyone was eating leftovers at work. I realized I had none.  And the best part of Thanksgiving is mashing up all the leftovers into one dish and microwaving it.  So, Monday afternoon I decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner for two — with plenty of leftovers — from scratch, mostly.

The menu:

  • pesto crusted turkey roulade
  • apple and onion stuffing
  • pureed carrot and potatoes
  • Challah bread
  • cranberry pomegranate relish

6:00 p.m. Leave work and stop at new seasons on the way home. I buy an all natural turkey breast (yes, raw), cranberries, one pomegranate,  one loaf of challah bread.
6:30 p.m. Arrive home. Kiss wife. Pet dog. remove bone from turkey breast, remove skin and butterfly the breast. I then pounded it to be about one inch
6:38 p.m. Remove jar of pesto from fridge and rub breast with pesto. Sprinkle panko breadcrumbs on one side. Roll breast up tightly and warp in foil. Place in oven.
6:44 p.m. Wash cranberries and place in boiling water with cinnamon, brown sugar and honey.
6:46 p.m. Cut 1/2 of challah bread into cubes and place in oven.
6:48 p.m. Cut carrots and potatoes and place in boiling water.
6:50 p.m. Chop raw turkey skin and place in frying pan until they turn into crispy golden skin nuggets.
7:00 p.m. Add diced red onion to skin nuggets. Remove bread cubes from oven.
7:03 p.m. Read comics from that morning’s paper.
7:05 p.m. Add shopped apple to onion and turkey skin crispies.
7:10 p.m Place bread cubes, apple, onions,turkey skin crispies, in baking dish. add parsley, thyme, basil and chicken stock. Cover and throw in oven.
7:20 p.m. Drain water from carrot/potato mixture. Add butter, creme, salt and attack with stick blender.
7:25 p.m. Remove turkey and let rest
7:26 p.m. Open bottle of Argyle Extended Tirage.
7:30 p.m. Plate.

11:58 a.m. the next day. Microwave Gladware container of Thanksgiving goodness.

Road Foods: Humboldt County

For Thanksgiving I hopped in the car and headed South to Eureka, California. Eureka is the county seat of Humboldt and is known for its unique mix of extreme liberal views mixed with extreme libertarian views.  It’s the home of my alma mater, Humboldt State University, and home to a dying fishing and lumber industry.

Stop 1, Eugene: Dutch Bros. Coffee.  Dutch Bros. once had a hipster cool, Southern Oregon vibe. Attractive young people, dancing to really loud music while serving you coffee. I hear it’s a great place to work . But coffee wise . meh. The barista seemed very disappointed that I didn’t want three types of syrup added to my latte.

Stop 2, Grant’s Pass: unnamed burrito shop on side of road. After 3 hours, decided to get out of the car. Great chips and slasa and a legitimate chile verde burrito, that I kept tasting the rest of the day. Disappointed that there was no horchata though. Settled for a Diet Coke.

Stop 4, South of Crescent City: side of the road. No food stop here, but a solid look at the North Coast .

Arrival: Arrived in Eureka and met my brother and his girlfriend at a nautical themed Italian Sushi Tepanaki restaurant on the marina. None of us were that hungry, but ordered a couple of rolls. Eureka is on the water and has a small fishing fleet harvesting Dungeness crab, salmon and maybe some halibut. because of its reputation as a fishing town, you would think it would have a lit to offer. But, because of its relative isolation, selection is limited. There is limited air traffic in and out of the area and its a seven hour drive from Portland or San Francisco.

I assumed the area would have jumped on the localvore bandwagon like the urban areas to the North and South. Politically , socially and even geographically you think that would be the case, but I really never saw much evidence of it.

Thanksgiving: The morning started with a walk around Eureka. Fewer transients and heroin needles than I recall. Stopped for coffee and a  muffin at Old Town Coffee and Chocolates.  Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s girlfriends house started with an incredible pumpkin bisque with big chunks of freshly caught Dungeness crab. Another highlight was the yam balls — little balls of pureed yam, rolled in coconut and baked.

Friday: Breakfast at Ramone’s Bakery. Really good corn meal scone. Then leftovers at back at  the house. Dinner at Babette’s, an old school Italian place complete with guitarist, candle in a wine bottle in a basket and chicken picata.

Saturday: Mickey Mouse shaped chocolate chip pancakes with the nephew. Not quite as elaborate as these, but still yummy. Then off to sight-seeing and ice cream.

Observations: A lot of people trying to do really good food. But only a few folks have figured out the distributions channels and how to consistently get fresh ingredients. Prices tend to be higher than they should be to support local quality eating. Again, probably due to distribution issues. There are some really good local products to be had. Humboldt County produces some of the best cheeses in the U.S. and there is a  thriving condiment business with everything from local pesto, to bbq sauce to honey widely available.