Thanksgiving was amazing. Our turkey–brined two days in advance–turned out juicy and tender. Our sides–sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, asparagus, stuffing and a beautiful salad with butternut squash, bacon, pecans and roasted onion–were gobbled up quickly. And we had tons of booze, desserts and great company. Including E’s mom.
Having a mom in the kitchen—even if not my own—was comforting. For one, it helped to have an executive chef to help guide E and I through editing and producing the meal without cooking the entire thing for us. On Wednesday night, we had desserts done and all of the veggies prepped before we went to bed, so all we had to do on Thursday was assemble the dishes and cook the bird. And instead of relying solely on recipes, E’s mom told us what essentials we needed. For the stuffing, “rosemary, bread crumbs, thyme, chicken stock, maybe some pecans and cranberries,” she rattled off. And when I almost ruined my sweet potato souffle because I misread how much flour was needed for the brown sugar crumble and instead coated the potatoes with a brown chalk-like dust, she helped me save the dish by telling me to scrape off the crumble topping, remix it with more sugar and butter and pop it back in the oven. The sweet potatoes turned out perfect. Who needs recipes when you have a mom?
Having E’s mother here also meant the “holiday orphans” we invited over for dinner who were far away from their own families got to enjoy the company of someone else’s mom in lieu of their own. Though I Skyped my own mom a few times during the day to see how she and my father were spending the holiday, it was nice to have E’s mom in-house to tell stories, teach me new tricks in the kitchen and make fun of the “menfolk,” just like my mom would have done had she been here.
The day after Thanksgiving, I unfortunately had to go to the office while E and his mom got to sit around in their pajamas all day. They weren’t completely unproductive–E’s mom whipped up turkey soup from the leftovers in a tall stock pot. She also made a sandwich for her son with stuffing, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce (which I cut with water and less orange juice this time). She took a photo of the meal for me, and it looked so delicious I daydreamed about making one for myself with leftovers when I got home.
When I finally got to the apartment, I threw off my work clothes to get into my pajamas as fast as I could. I made my own sandwich and grabbed a bowl of turkey soup, and slurped away as E sat curled up on the couch next to his mother who surfed the Web for Christmas gifts on her iPad. The soup, and the sandwich, tasted like love. Which, to me, is what makes the perfect Thanksgiving dinner.
I learned that the best Thanksgiving dishes were those without recipes. The same should be true of any leftover Thanksgiving sandwich. The recipe below shows you how to make the sandwiches featured above (which I made again for E with the last of our leftovers). But use whatever you can find in the fridge the day after, and lob those goods in between two pieces of bread. No matter what, the ‘wich will taste good. It’ll taste even better if you eat the sandwich in your pajamas.
2 pieces bread
slices leftover turkey
scoop sweet potatoes
scoop cranberry sauce
handful of lettuce
Toast bread. Spread on cranberry sauce, the sweet pototo, then stuffing on one side of bread. On the other side, layer on a light bed of lettuce, then place meaty pieces of turkey on top. Carefully place the sweet potato stuffing side on top of the turkey side. Cut in half and enjoy.