Eric Akis: Pulled turkey sandwiches give leftovers a southern twist

Eric Akis

If you’re roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving and have leftovers, making sandwiches with sliced turkey on your favourite type of bread is a common way to use them up.

Most folks, including me, love a turkey sandwich that’s rich with ingredients such as too much mayonnaise, crisp lettuce, tangy cranberry sauce and crunchy pickles.

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But there are other tasty ways to make a turkey sandwich, including a southern-style, hot and saucy one: pulled turkey sandwiches.

Cold, cooked roast turkey meat is pulled into shreds and simmered in a flavourful sauce until hot and delicious. The meat is then piled into buns with creamy coleslaw seasonally accented with bits of cranberries and pecans.

For a casual lunch or dinner, you could also serve the sandwiches with pickles, potato chips and a cold drink, such as beer, iced tea, lemonade or root beer.

The recipe makes two sandwiches, but they, and the coleslaw, could be doubled or further expanded for a larger group. If you do expand it, you may have to heat the shreds of turkey in the sauce a little longer, as you’ll have a greater volume of meat.

Pulled Turkey Sandwiches

Use up some of your leftover Thanksgiving roast turkey in these hearty, southern-style sandwiches.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: six to eight minutes

Makes: two servings

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice (see Eric options)

1 Tbsp cider vinegar

2 tsp honey, plus more if needed

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp chili powder

• hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste

1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked, cold, shredded turkey meat (see Note)

2 hamburger or kaiser buns, split and warmed

• Coleslaw with Cranberries and Pecans (see recipe below)

Place barbecue sauce, juice, vinegar, 2 tsp honey, cumin, chili powder and hot pepper sauce in a skillet and whisk to combine. Taste mixture and add a bit more honey if you find it too sharp.

Set skillet over medium heat and bring mixture to a simmer. Mix in turkey, loosely cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until turkey is hot and delicious, about five to seven minutes.

Set some of the saucy turkey on each bottom bun. Top the turkey with coleslaw and serve the rest alongside. Set on top buns and sandwiches are ready to enjoy.

Note: My shreds of turkey were about 1/2-inch thick, and two inches long.

Eric’s options: If you don’t have apple juice, use an equal amount of apple cider, chicken or turkey stock, or beer in the recipe.

Coleslaw with Cranberries and Pecans

Tangy, creamy-style coleslaw enhanced with chopped, dried cranberries and pecan pieces. Serve it with the pulled turkey sandwiches.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: None

Makes: two servings

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

2 tsp cider vinegar

2 tsp honey

1 tsp Dijon mustard

• salt to taste

1 1/2 cups thinly shredded green cabbage

1/4 cup grated carrot

1 small green onion, very thinly sliced

2 Tbsp dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

2 Tbsp pecan pieces

Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, mustard and salt in a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate coleslaw until ready to serve with the pulled turkey sandwiches.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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