Thanksgiving is not a cooking holiday for me — my sister-in-law picked up that mantle when my mother became too frail for such an enormous task — so this is one holiday where I’m not scouring the internet for recipes, or trying a new variation cranberry sauce or sweet potatoes, yet again.
But I do love the leftovers. Is there anything better than a stuffing-mashed potato-turkey-and-gravy sandwich? No? (Try it sometime – you may be surprised. Carb overload, yes. A sandwich dangerously overfilled with Thanksgiving’s best sides? You bet.)
The only thing better than that sandwich, is this sandwich: turkey that may or may not have been marinating in gravy since the Big Day, a generous spread of Boursin, and sweet-tart cranberry sauce (the real stuff, please), made grilled-cheesy on hearty Texas toast. Best. sandwich. ever.
Since I don’t have the panic of food prep, I usually spend this month reflecting on family. November has been a cruel month for my family — my brother died on Thanksgiving Day, in fact — but to lift the curse of the month, I try my best to fill my mind with good memories — family togetherness, love, and laughter. And the goofy.
I had forgotten — repressed it, more likely — that a cluster of cousins used to attend my Mom’s Thanksgiving dinner in my young days. They’d arrive in a tornado of activity, coats heaved here and there (instead of hung in the closet), announcing to one and all that they haven’t eaten all day and were positively famished, and then sprawl themselves across the most comfortable furniture, leaving the rest of us — elderly grandparents included — to scrounge for purchase.
Dinner was served late in the afternoon — 3:30-4:00ish? — and as soon as the last fork was laid down, and chairs were pushed back from the table (accompanied by the groans of the full-bellied), those cousins — adults, one and all (they were parents, even) — would head for my parents’ bedroom, crowd into the king-sized bed, and settle down for a nap, while we looked on in puzzlement (although, honestly, relieved for the break from their obnoxiousness).
We all might have wanted to take a nap after such hearty helpings of L-tryptophan, but I always figured that if anyone was going to nap after the Thanksgiving feast, it would be my mother, the sole cook and gracious hostess, who kept the day moving along from dinner to dessert, managing the odd the mix of people who gathered in her home that day all the while, with nary a five minute break to herself.
But, at least they took their shoes off, first.
Eventually, we shook them loose, and Thanksgiving became the stuff of warm, fuzzy, soft-lit memories. I cherish those days. (And actually, I cherish those crazy-cousin memories, too — the humor of it, anyway — as it could’ve been much, much worse, with, say, a drunken uncle doing a header into the dessert table, or a fried turkey setting the house aflame, or some such thing. I’ve always had difficulty explaining that branch of the family tree to in-laws and other newcomers. They’re not bad people — they just … have their own way.)
Whatever crazy family shenanigans go on at the holidays, I think we all can agree that, at the very least, the leftovers make it all worth while.
I love cranberry sauce on these turkey grilled cheese sandwiches. True, I probably should’ve patted the sauce dry, but frankly, I don’t mind the dribbles of cranberry or the pink-stained turkey. So, instead of braving the shops on Black Friday, I’ll be hunkering down at home, enjoying generous helpings of succulent turkey, perky cranberries, a thick schmear of Boursin (my favorite spread, ever), and melty muenster cheese, all in my very favorite sandwich form: the grilled cheese.
- 2 slices Texas toast garlic bread
- 3 slices leftover turkey
- Boursin (garlic and herb spread)
- 2 slices white cheddar or muenster cheese
- Cranberry sauce (patted dry, if desired)
- Baby spinach leaves (stems removed)
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. When droplets of water sizzle when added to the pan, lay the garlic bread slices in the pan (if buttered on one side, place the buttered side up). Heat the bread until lightly toasted, then flip.
- Using a wide sandwich spreader, spread Boursin over the warmed sides of the bread (it might be a little awkward, but it'll work out okay). Lay one slice over cheese over the Boursin.
- When the cheese has melted, layer the turkey on one slice of bread. Spoon a small amount of the cranberry sauce on top of the turkey. Shingle the spinach leaves over the cranberry sauce.
- Close the sandwich by topping the turkey with the second slice of bread, cheese side down.
- Flip the sandwich to make sure the bottom bread slice is toasted (if not, allow to heat a little longer). Serve. And be prepared to make seconds.