Here, Eat This

The Day After Thanksgiving: Making Good Use of Leftover Turkey with These Sandwiches

Looks good, doesn't it? It will look even better on a sandwich.
Looks good, doesn't it? It will look even better on a sandwich. Photo by Dianne Rosete via Flickr
Several weeks ago I called my aunt to invite her to Thanksgiving dinner. We decided to take on the tradition at our house this year and merge both our families in the process. She happily accepted but with one small request. "Do you think there will be enough leftover turkey for me to take home just for one sandwich?"

Like me, my aunt understands the value that remaining Thanksgiving Day meal provides. And it was underscored for me when I married my wife. Her family, filled with boys (now, fully grown men), didn't really even understand the concept of leftover turkey sandwiches. How could you have leftovers when there was literally nothing left?

In fact, this revelation was so shocking to me, I insisted on making my own Thanksgiving Day feast the day after Thanksgiving for no other reason than the availability of turkey for sandwiches. For my family, it's that big of a deal.

I've written about sandwiches here a lot including the lovely Day After Thanksgiving sandwich you can get all year at Lola. I love them. And, for me, there is no greater sandwich opportunity than when the family is gone and you break open that leftover container for some roast turkey. I typically like mine simply, but there are a handful of let's loosely call them "recipes" for leftover turkey that can help extend your holiday and your waistband even after the parades and football games are over.

Basic Turkey on White

This is simple. Just some turkey — I like a mix of dark and light meat — on white bread with mayo, lettuce and tomato (I omit the tomato because that's not my thing, but you do you). You can also add some dijon or, do one of my favorite things. Take a teaspoon of some of that canned cranberry the one relative likes so you have to buy it and mix it with a tablespoon of mayonnaise. It's rich and creamy, but also sweet and a little tart. It's a quick way to bring even more of that Thanksgiving feel into your sandwich.

Open Faced Turkey on Sourdough

You can't eat this with your hands, but it is pure comfort. Toast a hearty slice of bread — sourdough is great, but Italian or French will do as well. Heat up some leftover turkey and stuffing in a skillet with just a couple tablespoons of chicken stock to help add moisture and cook until reduced. Spoon that over the bread and then pour re-heated gravy over all of it. Crush that bad boy with a big fork.

Hot Turkey Melt

Think Basic Turkey on White but add some cheese — for me, it's havarti or muenster — and toast it up either in a toaster oven or on the griddle.

Turkey Torta

We are in Houston, so a Tex-Mex variation seems appropriate. In this one, you'll need either some talera bread or a nice roll like a pretzel roll, ciabatta, brioche or even a quality hamburger bun. For the turkey, heat it in a skillet in a teaspoon of cooking oil. If you have an onion and some garlic, chop that up and heat if first, then add the turkey — preferably dark meat on this one. Warm up some gravy and mix it with a little dressing. Spread that on the bun with some sour cream. Top with the turkey, sliced avocados and, if you are feeling daring, some sliced jalapeños. Finally, to really take it to the next level, add a fried egg on top.

The Smorgasbord

When you are jonesing for some late-night fare or you partied a little too hard the night of Thanksgiving and need a hangover cure for Black Friday, this is the one for you. In this case, I warm up turkey and dressing with a little gravy in a skillet. I'll mix in either some potatoes or, if you are one of those lucky families, some leftover mac and cheese. If you have it on hand, add some bacon to the whole mess. It's a beautiful thing.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke