Two nights before Thanksgiving, there are Creamsicle-tinted clouds streaking high above the Cold Beer Co. patio in Deep Ellum. The air is the temperature of a Texas autumn, which means it feels like May anywhere else, and inside the bar, the heat’s pumping to the music. The room is sparsely populated, a few people dotting the stools, which gives the neighborhood watering hole that Goldilocks effect that’s always comforting — not too many people and not too few. There's also plenty of beer, a perfect complement to Cold Beer's November special: a loaded, big-as-a-Harvest-moon Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich.
Toasty sourdough, soft on the inside and brittle-bronze on the exterior, bookends paper-thin slices of smoked turkey, melted brie cheese, rich stuffing and sweet-tart cranberry sauce. For $12, it’s a near-perfect sandwich that’s running all month at the bar. It’s got heft and weighs as much as a thick book, which is precisely how leftovers sandwiches should be. It comes with the only side that should accompany this kind of sandwich: salted potato chips.
There is no sandwich on earth as sentimentally perfect as the leftover turkey day sandwich. Every year, months before Thanksgiving, I visualize the execution of it in my head like a Rocky montage. I imagine a melody of turkey, which is the eye of the tiger, crisped skin removed and layered over it, stuffing formed into a patty, a layer of cooling cranberry sauce beneath and mayo spread into the darkened toast. It's the closest I've ever come to predicting the future. If you smash potato chips into the sandwich, it's food that should have been written about in Edith Hamilton’s Mythology.
The magic comes from care: There are few days on earth that we spend so intimately with a deceased bird. We Americans take a pause from our usual days of yogurt, eaten furiously in the car on the way to work, and care for bird carcasses like they're King Tut’s memorial. We prep a turkey's burial by rubbing it down with embalming oils, preserving salts, Cajun spices and pepper, and we ceremonially place it in low flames for hours. We stuff it with sage and bread to ensure the bird will pass gloriously into the afterlife and serve it with whipped potatoes and cranberry sauce.
In other words, the Thanksgiving sandwich is one of the most beautiful sandwiches because we spend hours, sometimes days, lovingly preparing its components. We do it with family or friends or bar mates or whomever, and we take our time. We take a break for this sandwich. We take time off to eat it. We eat it on a paper plate with Lay’s potato chips (because that’s what’s best) and a pickle spear because it’s about a good, honest meal and nothing else.
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And it’s worth every single minute that went into it.
Unless something goes wrong, that is:
Cold Beer Company, 3600 Main St.