Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Open-Faced Hot Turkey Sandwich (Turkey Manhattan)


In my mind, open-faced sandwiches piled high with warm roast beef or turkey and a mound of creamy mashed potatoes that are drowning in complimentary gravy conjur up the formica table tops and vinyl seats of diners past.  Sustenance in the middle of a long road trip or after a night soaked in alcohol.  Comfort on a plate in my little booth of the ever-bustling diner.  Waitresses in comfy shoes and pony tails with pens tucked behind their ears, a coffee carafe attached to one hand, and a knack for calling every one "Hon".    I can't make a turkey or roast beef without finishing off the leftover meat inside one of these sandwiches.

They're also great for restaurant workers who are on their feet all day long cooking food or bringing it out to the guests.  In the midst of lunch prep, I used to make huge hotel pans lined with stacks of bread.  There always seemed to be leftover prime rib or turkey breast in the cooler that I could slice and throw into a pot of broth to warm up.  Maybe I had to make the mashed potatoes, but no biggie.  While everything was heating up, I'd bring a ladle into the cooler to extract some stock from the five gallon buckets that went in last night before closing to make a rich gravy.  And just in before family meal (employee meal), when everybody's station is stocked and set up, I'd pile up the meat down the line of stacked bread, scoop on some mashers and smother the whole thing in gravy.  Sustenance, quiet chewing and contemplation in anticipation of the lunch rush.

Some people call these sandwiches Turkey (or Roast Beef) Manhattans and they put the meat between the slices of bread, cut then on the diagonal and form them into a V on the plate.  Then put the scoop of mashed potatoes in the middle of the V and then pour gravy over everything.  I don't make them that way, but I'm sure they're just as good.  Although, I don't know why they're called Manhattans since I'm pretty sure they originated somewhere here in the Midwest and New Yorkers probably wouldn't know what you were talking about if you tried to order one there.  So, call 'em what you like, just be prepared for some bone-sticking comfort food!
Open-Faced Hot Turkey Sandwich
(Turkey Manhattan)
yield: 1 sandwich

2 slices bread
leftover sliced turkey
leftover mashed potatoes
leftover turkey gravy

Heat up the turkey, potatoes, and gravy.  Lay two slices of bread on a plate.  Place as much warm turkey on top of the bread as you want in your sandwich.  Place a big scoop of warm mashed potatoes on top of the turkey.  Smother the whole thing in warm gravy.  Eat with a knife and fork.
Remaining turkey broth from bottom of roaster after being refrigerated.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
yield: 6-8 servings

2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
3 oz. butter
3/4-1 c. buttermilk
sea salt
freshly ground white pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut any extremely large ones in half or quarters.  Put them in a medium pot and cover with water by a couple of inches.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer until tender, 20-30 minutes.  Drain water and return potatoes to pot.  Add butter and let melt, then add the smaller amount of buttermilk.  Whip with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy.  Add more buttermilk, if you like them looser.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper.  Serve.
This year I decided to roast a broken-down turkey, as opposed to doing it whole.  This method cooks a bit faster, and makes for very simple carving.  We never bring the whole bird to the table, anyway...so I figured nobody would be the wiser (or care if they were).  I also used one of those big electric roasters in order to save oven space in my small kitchen with a small oven.  The only downfall (in my opinion) of using one of these types of roasters is that you don't get that awesome, golden skin on the breast.  This really bums my daughter out, as the skin is probably her favorite part of any roasted bird.  But it was a compromise I chose to make this year since I made the whole dinner myself.  You could just as easily do this in the oven.


Simple Roast Turkey
yield: ~8-10 svgs.

2 apples, quartered
1 large onion, quartered
1 lemon, halved
handful of fresh thyme sprigs
handful of fresh sage sprigs
few fresh rosemary sprigs
2 c. water
2 large turkey breast halves (~7 lbs. total), bone-in, skin-on
2 large turkey leg quarters (~4 lbs. total), bone-in, skin-on
4 oz. butter
salt & freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven (or roaster) to 350° F.

Place apples, onion, lemon, half of the thyme and sage, all of the rosemary, and the water in the bottom of a roasting pan (or roaster).  Place a rack over them.  Place turkey parts on the rack, skin side up.  Cut the butter into pats or slivers and scatter over the top of the turkey.  Season generously with salt and pepper, then scatter remaining thyme and sage sprigs over the buttered and seasoned turkey parts.

Slide into oven (or put lid on roaster) and roast for ~2-2½ hours, basting with accumulated juices from time to time, until meat registers 165° on a thermometer.  Check dark meat first and remove to a foil-covered dish if any parts are done early.  Once all meat is done, transfer to a foil-covered dish to sit and rest while you make the gravy.  Strain liquid from bottom of pan into a fat-separating measuring cup...you should get about a quart once fat is removed.

To carve, carefully remove breast meat from bone, then slice against the grain as thickly or thinly as you like.  I usually just pull the meat from the thigh and serve the leg whole (what kid doesn't love eating like a neanderthal!?), but slice that meat as well, if you like.
Herbed Turkey Gravy
yield: 3-4 c.

4 Tbs. butter
4 Tbs. flour
3-4 c. Turkey broth from bottom of turkey roaster, de-fatted (or turkey stock/broth)
~2 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
salt & freshly ground pepper, as needed

Make a roux by stirring the flour and butter together over medium heat in a large skillet.  Let cook down for a few minutes, stirring while you do, until it colors lightly golden and smells wonderfully nutty.  Gently whisk in 3 cups turkey broth and cook for a few minutes to thicken.  Add more broth, as needed.  Stir in fresh thyme.  Taste and see if it needs salt and pepper (depends on your broth/stock)...season if it needs it.  Serve.

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