Friday, November 28, 2014

Weekend Gourmet Flashback: My Family's Favorite Turkey Leftovers...Turkey Mornay Open-Faced Sandwiches

I hope that y'all had a fabulous Thanksgiving yesterday! If you're like my family, chances are you have a fridge full of leftover turkey today. One of my family's favorite holiday comfort foods is my Grandma Texene's Turkey Mornay Open-Faced Sandwiches. We all look forward to eating these comforting hot sandwiches every year the weekend after Thanksgiving. It's sort of a family tradition! What's not to like? This hot sandwich combines toasted thick Texas Toast, topped with chopped broccoli, slices of juicy turkey breast, homemade cheese sauce, bacon(!), and a toping of ooey gooey melted cheese. Every single time I eat Turkey Mornay, I smile and remember my Mom's mother, my Grandma Texene. Despite her Lone Star-sounding name, Grandma Texene was actually born and raised in Wisconsin. Given her name, I suppose it was meant to be that she ended up moving to Texas as an adult. 

She was elegant and well-traveled, and I absolutely adored her! I'm convinced that my love of travel, good food, and wine comes directly from her. She was a little fireball, standing just under 5 feet tall with bleached-blonde hair. When I was a young girl, she drove a yellow Firebird sportscar. She smoked Parliament cigarettes, wore Chanel No. 5, and slept in a round bed. Not just any round bed mind you, but one with a yellow velvet headboard! Above the bed were painted formal portraits of her and my Grandpa Bob -- and she always had a poodle companion with painted toenails. She's been gone for more than 20 years now, but I think of her and smile each time I enjoy this delicious sandwich! 
Turkey Mornay Open-Faced Sandwiches
adapted from Texene Everhart
Ingredients (makes 4 sandwiches):

  • 3-4 slices applewood smoked bacon
  • 4 slices Texas toast thick bread, toasted
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli, cooked
  • 3 cups sliced turkey breast (can sub roasted chicken)
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded co-jack cheese
For the cheese sauce:
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 2 tbs. flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup shredded Velveeta (for smoothness)
  • 1/2 shredded co-jack cheese (for a sharp contrast)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Step 1: Cook the applewood bacon and crumble into bite-sized pieces; set aside. Make the cheese sauce as follows: melt the butter in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until completely incorporated. Cook the roux for 1 minute, then add the milk and chicken stock to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk well to combine the ingredients and turn the heat to med-high. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to med-low. Cook for 6-7 minutes, until thickened, whisking every minute or so. Remove the saucepan from heat and completely whisk in the cheeses. 
Step 2: Preheat oven to 425. Place the toast on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Drizzle with some of the cheese sauce, then top with approximately 1/2 cup of the cooked chopped broccoli. Combine 2 cups of the cheese sauce with the turkey breast. Mound 1/2 cup of the turkey on top of the broccoli on each sandwich. Finally, top each sandwich with 1/4 of the bacon pieces and 1/3 cup shredded co-jack cheese.
Step 3: Bake the sandwiches for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. Then, turn on the broiler and broil just until the cheese begins to brown...keep a close eye on the sandwiches so they don't burn! Make sure to serve these hearty sandwiches with a serrated steak knife to make them easy to cut. 
Oh my word! I promise that these sandwiches are so good that you'll be looking forward to turkey leftovers! Melted cheese, bacon, cheesy bechamel sauce, moist turkey breast, and healthy broccoli all rest on thick slices of crunchy toasted bread. The Texas Toast was my personal tweak to the recipe, and it worked stood up nicely to the sauce and didn't get soggy. That said, this is definitely a knife-and-fork kind of sandwich. I also decided to chop the bacon rather than leave it in strips, which also makes it easier to enjoy. This sandwich is just plain good. This one's for you, Grandma Texene!

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