There is only one good reason to swing your legs out of bed on the Friday after Thanksgiving — the day your body feels like lead from the waist down from a surge of tryptophan.
Have the dreams started? Are you envisioning both elbows planted on the table, each hand holding the flanks of a toasted sandwich brimming with yesterday’s sides?
The dream of sinking into undulating waves of turkey and mayonnaise and stuffing, hugged by piping-from-the-toaster bread. The reason to get out of bed on the day after Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, a sandwich.
The leftovers sandwich is a reward for your indefatigable hosting skills, your trophy for the sore shoulder you have from manic whisking. It’s precision detonations of salty-sweet-creamy to bring down the building of stress you put up the day before.
Maybe you make one of these sandwiches, and maybe you don’t. Executing a leftovers sandwich can be delicate choreography of pans and hands and stirring, patting out a disc of stuffing or doing the symphonic clack-crack of the pepper mill over the whole thing, or, alternatively, the sandwich is the thing you shove in your face-hole in the short seconds while the fridge door is yawning open.
The point is: Everyone who makes a leftovers sandwich has their own signature version, and that’s what’s so damn beautiful about it. The leftovers sandwich is all of us, and here’s what some of us do:
“I stand in front of the fridge with a dinner roll and pack whatever leftover I can into the perfect bite,” says Caroline Perini. She’s the owner and maker-of-delicious-sandwiches at Easy Slider in Deep Ellum. Her day-after-Thanskgiving sandwich is what inspired The Gobbler — a masterwork of a slider that tastes precisely like Turkey Day. Chopped pecans and jalapeños meet a ground turkey patty, in between cornbread dressing, dark brown gravy with a lot of black pepper and a slap on the back of homemade cranberry sauce. That’s what she serves in her restaurant. At home, she sticks to the classics: cold turkey on soft Mrs. Baird’s bread with Duke’s mayonnaise and cranberry sauce.
Andrew Kelley, owner and expert meat slicer at New York Sub in University Park, likes to tear off a King’s Hawaiian Roll and fill it with leftover baked ham, pickles and mustard. Pro Tip: You’ll find a turkey and sausage gumbo at his shop this week.
“Let’s face it: The biggest problem is that it’s dry,” says Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn about leftover turkey.
He’s piling white and dark meat slices from his richly smoky Greenberg turkey into the food processor with heaps of mayo, lemon juice, celery and herbs. He pulses it into a smoked turkey pate and spreads it onto Hawaiian rolls.
“Thanksgiving leftovers are the only leftovers I actually love,” says Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman, the chef of Jose in North Dallas. “It’s always ham and sausage stuffing on a Hawaiian sweet roll with Miracle Whip.”
Pittman says she’ll settle for turkey if it’s hanging around. Miracle Whip is key, she tells us — it’s what was in the fridge as a kid.
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If you’re just absolutely not cooking this year: There are some hair-melter turkey sandwiches to satisfy the leftovers need.
“There's actually an art to making the sandwich,” says Mat Urban, executive chef and general manager of the Commissary downtown. Their turkey sando is sensational. They flip Gruyere and turkey to each side of a seeded wheat roll like Indiana Jones with that bag of sand to ensure that the bread doesn’t sog up. Mayo hangs out on both sides of the bun with a banana pepper-based relish. Red onion and seasoned tomato slices and oregano vinaigrette cool things down.
Carbone’s in Oak Lawn is hiding a gem of a turkey hero in plain view around this time of year. At Goodfriend Package in East Dallas, a cold slice of salt-bright white cheddar finds ribbons of good turkey — the result is a sandwich you’ll think about year round.
Sitting at the bar at Easy Slider, a couple of Gobbler sliders and a local beer is a pure and good Thanksgiving experience. The best sandwiches are personal stories.