Thanksgiving & The Greatest Sandwich that ever was

28 Nov

In junior high, my class went on a ski trip to Bolton Valley.  Dana C. and I were in the commissary at the Black Bear Inn, and she ordered a cinnamon bun the size of her face.  When she finished, she stood up and shook her hands in victory, as an imaginary crowd cheered on.  It was with such joy and sense of accomplishment, that I ate the most magical sandwich. Just as we come together with friends and family on Thanksgiving, so too do the fruits of many days labor, join in celebration– between two slices of seven grain bread.  To elucidate the layers: a delicate schmear of brie- adding just a touch of creaminess, a spoon of sweet/tart cranberry sauce, a slice of fresh roasted turkey breast, a heap of cornbread sausage stuffing— and back again- turkey, stuffing, cranberry, brie, toast- piled high.

The Turkey:
Call me crazy, but as Corcoran said I am probably the only person in America to buy and roast a turkey breast, the day after thanksgiving.  But as it was- I had all the fixings, but none of the meat in my leftovers, so I did what had to be done.
A turkey breast, about 2 1/2 pounds, boneless
2 tablespoons of butter
1 spring rosemary, chopped
Perhaps 6 small leaves of sage, chopped

Melted butter for about 20 seconds in microwave to just soften. Mix in herbs.  Take turkey, rinse and set in roasting pan.  A little trick I once learned, if you don’t have a roasting rack, you can take a big piece of tinfoil and roll it into a big S shape, creating a platform for your meat to sit on, allowing space for the drippings to fall down. Slathered the turkey in the herb butter, then sprinkled very generously with kosher salt & pepper.  Baked for an hour and half, basting with chicken stock about every thirty minutes.  I cooked until juices ran clear and internal temperature reached 150. According to FDA regulations or some such, they say to cook until 165, but in that class I learned about the S foil rack, I learned that anything over 145 for chicken is fine– and that if you actually go to 165 your bird will completely dry out. So do what you feel comfortable with, but I go 150.

The Cranberry Sauce: See Mom’s Cranberry Chutney recipe

The Stuffing:
I decided to go cornbread stuffing this year and used a recipe by Anne Burrell.
extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, small diced
3 ribs celery, small diced
kosher salt
1 pound spicy sausage, removed from casing, broken into bite-size pieces
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
10 leaves of sage, finely chopped
3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
3/4 walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional- i left out)
10 cups stale cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups dried cranberries (I only used 1 cup- didn’t want it to overpower- as some aren’t crazy about dried fruit in savory dishes)
3 or 4 cups of chicken stock

Preheat to 350.  Coat a large saute pan w. olive oil.  Add onion and celery and saute over medium heat.  Season w. salt and cook until vegetables are soft and very aromatic.  Add sausage and cook until sausage begin to brown. Stir in the garlic and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, sage and rosemary and cook for another minute and then remove from heat.
In large bowl, mix together cornbread, cranberries, and sausage mixture. Add some stock and knead w. your hands until the bread is very moist, actually wet. Taste for seasoning and season w. salt, if needed and transfer to ovenproof dish.
Bake stuffing until hot all the way through and is crusty on top, about 30 to 35 minutes.

The Cornbread:
As a base for the stuffing, I wanted to make my own cornbread- and used a recipe from Silver Palate.  To ensure 10 cups, I made two batches of the recipe below.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal (coarse)
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced crisped-cooked bacon (optional- I left out b/c i thought w. sausage in the stuffing, this might be overkill)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat to 400, grease a 9×9 inch pan. Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Then stir in buttermilk, bacon, butter ad egg, mix gently. Pour into pan, set in middle rack. Bake for 25 minutes. Cornbread is done when edges are lightly browned and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cooled for a few minutes, then flipped onto cooling rack to finish cooling.
If want to make muffins: spoon into 10 greased muffins and bake for 20 minutes.
In order to get stale for stuffing, I cut into 1 inch cubes, and left spread out on baking sheet for 2 nights.  Then toasted for a few minutes in oven to further dry out.

The Bread: Bread Alone 7 grain bread

The Brie: From the co-op. $1.76 for a wedge, I’m just saying.

Sweet Potatoes:
These did not make it to the sandwich as there were no leftovers. After much deliberation, I decided to go the classic marshmallow topped route, with a recipe from Barbara Haynes. You can do totally prep this all the night before, then just heat the day off in oven- add marshmallows and toast.
5 sweet potatoes, of varying sizes, but when roasted and mashed, this produced 5 cups
The recipe is written as for every cup of sweet potatoes allow the following– so I multiplied each of the following time 5… except for the orange juice times 4, because I didn’t want it too overpowering
1 1/4 tablespoon butter (multiplied by 5)
1 tablespoon of brown sugar (multiplied by 5)
3 tablespoons of orange juice (multiplied by 4)
1/2 teaspoon of orange zest (multiplied by 5)
1/2 teaspoon of salt (multiplied by 5)
mini marshmallows, half a bag

Preheat oven 375. Prick the potatoes with a fork.  Place directly on rack in over- no baking sheet. Cooking 1 hour (few minutes more or less depending on size of potatoes) until they are soft.  Wait a few minutes until cool enough to handle.  Skins peel off quite easily.  Mash with fork (or potato masher if you have, I don’t.)  While hot, mix in all other ingredients.  Put in baking dish.  If re-heating cook for about 30 minutes to heat through. If potatoes already hot might take less time. Add a layer of marshmallows, and turn oven to broil for a minute- until toasted. Watch closely they will burn!

3 Responses to “Thanksgiving & The Greatest Sandwich that ever was”

  1. Anonymous November 28, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    I love the word “commissary.” Like, a lot.

  2. Jess P. November 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    this is hilarious! such dedication.

  3. Dana Cash December 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    most favorite post ever :)

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