Creamy Béchamel coupled with prized leftover Thanksgiving Day turkey, sweet cranberry sauce, and melty Pepper Jack cheese make this gobbler-of-a-sandwich truly stupendous! It is worthy of celebrating leftovers!
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Ultimate Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Cranberry Sandwich
According to Webster’s, Béchamel “a rich white sauce made with milk infused with herbs and other flavorings.” To the novice home chef, Béchamel is soooo much more than that. It’s that creamy, gravy-like condiment that is served warm and assembled quite literally in just a few minutes with only a few ingredients on the stove top. It’s kid friendly and altogether worthy of company if you need your sandwiches to make a statement!
Before you earmark all those Thanksgiving leftovers for other meals, don’t forget to set enough aside for these Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches!
Tom Turkey and all of his cronies that tag along for the day after Thanksgiving party get a tasty boost in this simple club sandwich that puts a handful of those leftovers to work! That boost? Béchamel sauce.
Béchamel sauce is quite likely the easiest of elegant fast food that the novice home chef like me can pull off in our kitchens in mere minutes and have it appear we slaved! This splendid sauce typically adorns the top of a dish once it’s plated. It’s that altogether enticing “bit of creamy” in full view that makes whatever it graces appeal to the masses.
In today’s recipe, milk is infused with a branch of fresh rosemary, a few peppercorns, sliced shallot, and a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley prior to being added to a roux. Once combined and smoothed, fresh nutmeg is added and the sauce simmers until bubbling.
I use it here to lather toasted bread slices before piling with sharp Pepper Jack cheese, leftover sliced turkey, and some fabulous whole berry cranberry sauce that I jazz up with a teaspoon of whole grain Dijon mustard. This turkey sandwich recipe is among my most popular leftover turkey recipes, so dive in!
How This Recipe Came About…
It’s just before midnight Thanksgiving eve after all of the dinner festivities have ended and the arduous cleanup is done. It’s quiet, they’ve all gone to bed, and I’m alone with my head in the refrigerator, just me and Tom Turkey getting reacquainted over a very special sandwich! No, not chicken!
Typically, I’d haul the stuffing out along with the turkey leftovers and the mayonnaise. My goal is to assemble the BIGGEST leftover turkey day sammie the world has seen. This time around, I am switching up my game a bit and adding some zip.
This sammie will require a knife and fork as I’m serving it up open-faced. I could press it in my panini maker and it’d be just as good, but tonight, it’s open-faced because I’m piling it high!
This recipe isn’t all that original per se, however it does serve as a hot after-meal that is something other than a plateful of microwaved leftovers. That, and as much as I want my gobbler sandwich (turkey, stuffing, cranberry and mayo between two slices of white bread), I want some thing hot. Something unique, and certainly something on the creamy side…
Do You Have What’s Needed For The Ultimate Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Cranberry Sandwich? Check The List!
for the Béchamel
flat leaf parsley
all purpose flour
for the sandwich
good quality, fresh sliced bread, any kind
Pepper Jack, Brie, Camembert, Blue Cheese, or other melty cheese
leftover roasted turkey slices
leftover homemade cranberry sauce
whole grain Dijon mustard
What Is The Best Bread To Use For This Cranberry Turkey Sandwich?
Any slice of FRESH bread you like. I purposely buy a loaf of bakery sourdough the day before the holiday knowing that I will make this sandwich. I want large fresh slices for toasting and assembling this sandwich.
If sourdough isn’t your thing, consider pumpernickel, marble rye, or country white.
How To Make A Béchamel?
Not Hard. NOT HARD! Ten-ish minutes, some flour, butter, and milk and you are underway. And if you end up with sauce leftover, cover it with plastic film and save it for Sunday breakfast over scrambled eggs and bacon – YUP DELISH!!!
For this sauce, I will not use anything but freshly grated nutmeg. If you do not have nutmeg or a nutmeg grinder, it’s totally okay to use the ground nutmeg you probably have in your pantry.
If you’ve been considering purchasing a grinder, I’ve linked to one below that comes complete with a handful of nutmeg seeds to get you going. Oh…that, and it’s by Peugeot.
So in a non-stick sauce pan, add some milk. You’re good whether you use whole, reduced fat, or 2%. To this milk, add some peppercorns, a branch of rosemary that’s been muddled a bit, several sprigs of parsley, a very thinly sliced shallot, and a single grind of nutmeg.
Simmer for about ten minutes over medium low heat. When the milk is steamy, its ready. Strain the solids and pour the milk back into the saucepan to keep warm. Ditch the solids.
Melt unsalted butter in a separate non-stick sauce pan. To the butter add some flour, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Use a whisk to break up the flour clumps as you cook the sticky flour ball for five full minutes.
Raw flour is most unpleasant tasting, so cooking the flour out is a term used by bakers and chefs to toast the flour. Once the sticky flour ball or roux, begins to smell nutty, it’s there.
Add the warm herb-infused milk to the roux, turn the heat to medium high, and whisk until the mixture thickens and is very, very smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Now test by tasting to see if it needs salt or pepper and add if necessary. Grab the nutmeg grinder and add several turns of fresh nutmeg, about a half teaspoon altogether. I never measure…
How Long Does Béchamel Sauce Take To Prepare?
So if you’ve just read through the above how-to’s and are wondering how big a project Béchamel is to tackle, it’s not. Not a project at all.
Save ten minutes for the preparation and assembly of the Béchamel. While the milk is infusing, the roux should be toasting. Combining and smoothing it all out is a cinch and takes about one minute. Boom – DONE!
Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…
To make this sammy not entirely average, try switching up the cheese and use Camembert or Brie. If you can find the caramelized onion cheddar that is popular at Trader Joe’s stores nationwide, shred some into the Béchamel instantly turning it into Mornay sauce.
Other herbs to consider infusing with the milk would be bay leaf, muddled fresh sage, or muddled fresh oregano. Roasted garlic cloves also infuse the milk nicely and offer a quasi-sweet pleasing finished sauce.
No time for Béchamel? A smear of cream cheese on the lightly toasted bread before piling on the turkey and the cheese is totally appropriate. Also, my Five Ingredient Honey Mustamaise is that “on-everything” condiment that fits the bill when plain old mayonnaise just won’t do.
Can A Béchamel Be Made Ahead?
Yes, but for me, it’s a “why bother?” kind of question. Ten minutes to cook it from start to finish or ten minutes to reheat it – same difference. BUT…if you are eager to get all of your cooking under your belt, make the Béchamel ahead by one day, cover with film, and refrigerate until ready to use. Reheat over low heat in a sauce pan on your stove for about ten minutes.
What To Serve With This Cranberry Turkey Sandwich?
Gee, it’s a very filling sandwich, so think easy and grab some kettle chips or just some house made pickles or even pickled red onion salad. I go old school and pour a big glass of cold milk and add some classy vegetable chips to my plate!
Ultimate Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Cranberry Sandwich
- baking sheet
- non-stick sauce pan
- bread knife
Ingredients for Ultimate Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Cranberry Sandwich
for the Béchamel sauce
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 quart milk
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- 3 – 4 sprigs parsley
- 1 medium shallot thinly sliced
- 1 branch rosemary fresh, slightly muddled
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg freshly ground
for the sandwich
- 8 thick slices bread very fresh, very lightly toasted
- 1 pound leftover Thanksgiving turkey sliced thin
- 8 ounces Pepper Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup leftover cranberry sauce
- 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
- Adjust the racks of your oven to where one rack is 6 inches below the element, and the other is at the lowest part of the oven. Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside.
- To a medium non-stick saucepan, add the milk, peppercorns, parsley, shallots, and rosemary. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally until milk is steamy. Strain the solids and return only the infused milk to the saucepan. Reduce heat to low to keep milk warm.
- In a separate non-stick saucepan, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted and foamed, add the flour. Stir with a whisk to incorporate all and break up any flour lumps. Cook the flour mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes or until it begins to toast and smell nutty. Pour in the milk.
- Turn the heat to medium high and bring the roux to a boil whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken to the consistency of a smooth gravy. Off the heat and allow to stand to further thicken.
assemble the sandwiches
- Using a wooden spoon, add the whole grain mustard to the cranberry sauce and stir until all is very well combined. Set aside.
- Lightly toast the bread slices atop the prepared baking sheet in the bottom part of the oven for just a minute. You only want them very lightly toasted.
- Remove the baking sheet and flip the bread slices. Add a heaping spoonful of the hot Béchamel sauce to each slice and smear it around. Add the 2 ounces of turkey to each slice of bread, followed by 1 ounce of Pepper Jack atop each pile of turkey.
- Slide the baking sheet onto the top rack of the oven just long enough to melt the cheese and lightly brown the tops.
- Remove from the oven and arrange 2 halves on each of four plates. Spoon the cranberry sauce mixture over top and serve hot.
- Serve open-faced with kettle chips or house made pickles.