To call a turkey sandwich the stuff of memories sounds far-fetched (few have waxed Proustian about a turkey club), but that’s what it is to Peruvian chef Ricardo Zarate. The chef behind Los Angeles’ Mo-Chica and Picca came to know and love the turkey sandwich not in his native Lima but while working at the Millennium hotel in London early on in his culinary career. The object of his craving: roasted turkey with fried sweet potatoes and jalapeno-cilantro aioli between two slices of buttery brioche.
“To be honest,” says Zarate, “Peruvians eat turkey only for Christmas. Christmastime it’s crazy — you know, at dinner we have to have the turkey … marinated with Peruvian spices, garlic, salt, pepper, a little Pisco, soy sauce.” Now he’s inspired to make it for Thanksgiving — so he can make the sandwich he still remembers.
This week, the leftover-turkey sandwich looms especially large. According to the National Turkey Federation, 91 percent of Americans eat turkey — about 675 million pounds of it — for Thanksgiving. And much of the bird will probably end up between a couple of pieces of bread. So what better time to revisit the turkey sandwich?
The turkey sandwich has made something of a coast-to-coast comeback, and the latest renditions are a far cry from the cracker-dry club.
And the latest wave of sandwich shops in Los Angeles — the Larder at Maple Drive, Fundamental L.A., Marcona, to name a few — haven’t ignored the turkey sandwich. Michael Voltaggio says the maple-pepper turkey sandwich at his Ink.Sack is a nod to a ham-and-Brie number with honey mustard at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.
“I remember sneaking in and eating them when I was an apprentice there,” he says. “I wanted to do a turkey version — I always have turkey in my refrigerator at home and eat a turkey sandwich with mustard every night.”
His is sliced Willie Bird breast cooked sous-vide with hunks of melted Rouge et Noir Camembert (a Marin cheese he liked better than domestic Brie), a blanket of arugula, a smear of mayonnaise and a thick layer of his take on mostarda, the Italian condiment of preserved fruit. The mostarda is also a reference to the traditional leftovers sandwich with cranberry sauce, Voltaggio says.
“And it’s like a fruit chutney that I used to make when I did cheese plates.” The sandwich tied “the idea of fruit-chutney-with-cheese and turkey-with-cranberry and turkey-with-Brie-and-mustard. It has roots. There’s a lineage to this sandwich.”
Roasted Turkey With Fried Sweet Potatoes and Jalapeno-Cilantro Aioli
Adapted from Ricardo Zarate
1/2 bunch cilantro, de-stemmed (plus a handful of sprigs to garnish the sandwiches)
3 jalapenos, de-seeded
1 clove garlic
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
Salt to taste
1/2 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
6 ounces roasted turkey breast
Butter, for spreading on the brioche
4 (1-inch) slices brioche
Chop the cilantro, jalapeno and garlic and place in a medium bowl. Add the lime juice, white wine vinegar and mayonnaise. Place the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. This makes about 2 cups jalapeno-cilantro mayonnaise. It can be kept in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days.
Double-fry the sweet potato slices: Add vegetable oil to a large pot, enough to come 2 to 3 inches up the sides of the pot. Heat the oil to 300 degrees, and blanch the sweet potato slices in the oil for 4 minutes, then cool on a rack. Increase the oil to 350 degrees, then fry the slices again for 1 minute.
Butter the brioche slices and toast. Spread the jalapeno mayonnaise on one side of two slices of brioche. Divide the turkey and place on top of the two slices. Add the fried sweet potato discs and sliced avocado and cilantro sprigs and spread more of the jalapeno-cilantro mayonnaise on top. Invert the remaining slices of brioche onto the sandwiches. Serve immediately.
Yield: Makes 2 sandwiches.
Nutrition information per serving: 668 cal, 47 g total fat (12 g saturated), 174 mg chol, 32 g carbo, 32 g pro, 250 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber
Turkey With Melted Camembert and Mostarda
Adapted from Michael Voltaggio of Ink.Sack
1 (9-ounce) Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 3/4 cups (9 ounces) dried apricots and raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
In a saute pan over medium heat, sweat the apples until they start to become tender, stirring frequently, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the dried apricots and raisins, the cider vinegar, orange zest and juice, cinnamon stick and brown sugar, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to break down and takes on a deep, golden brown color, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the mustard. Cool to room temperature. This makes a generous 2 cups mostarda, which will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.
2 (4-inch) sections crusty French baguette, halved
10 ounces sliced turkey breast
6 slices (4 ounces) Camembert cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup arugula
1/4 to 1/2 cup mostarda, or to taste
On the bottom half of each baguette section, place half of the turkey. Top the turkey with the cheese slices, then lightly drizzle over a little olive oil. Toast the open sandwiches until crisp and lightly golden, 2 to 6 minutes, depending on the heat of the toaster or oven.
Spoon a generous amount of the mostarda over the melted cheese, then top with the arugula. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise over each toasted baguette top, then invert each top over the rest of the sandwiches to assemble. Serve immediately.
Yield: Makes 2 sandwiches
Nutrition information per serving: 689 cal, 30 g total fat (11 g saturated), 167 mg chol, 45 g carbo, 59 g pro, 1,182 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber