Area chefs wing it with turkey ideas

November 21, 2001|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SUN STAFF

Once you've roasted, grilled or deep-fried the big bird, served a bountiful feast and cleaned up afterward, it's time to sit back and contemplate the real challenge of Thanksgiving - what to do with all those left-overs.

When it comes to turkey, local chefs stand ready to make the task both easy and tasty. As it turns out, turkey sandwiches are a favorite treat for lots of cooks around town.

John Shields, chef-owner of Gertrude's at the Baltimore Museum of Art, likes to eat turkey sandwiches the way his Grandmother Gertrude made them in East Baltimore.

She would start with white bread and mayonnaise, then add a thin slice of stuffing or dressing. Shields says he bakes extra dressing in loaf pans for just this purpose. Then she would add the turkey, dab some cranberry relish on it and serve it. When that moment came, "Life was good," he says. "It's about the best thing I ever had."

Denise Whiting, owner of Hampden's Cafe Hon, favors a similar version of the sandwich.

"I slather some really good plain old white bread with mayo, preferably a high-quality kind like Hellman's," she says.

"Slice some stuffing and lay it on the bread. I use partly white meat and partly dark meat, so it won't be too dry, top it with some cranberry sauce, put the lid on it and eat it."

Is the cranberry sauce home-made?

"Heavens no, hon! It's out of a can - Ocean Spray, but not the stuff with whole berries in it. You can use the ridge marks to tell you where to cut."

Cindy Wolfe, chef-owner of the upscale Charleston Restaurant in Inner Harbor East, likes to make a turkey-salad sandwich with a touch of curry.

"I use a light curry in the mayonnaise, because turkey flavor is good but not that good," she says. She adds celery, some shallot, salt, pepper and, a handful of pecans, roughly chopped.

She puts the turkey salad on "a great sourdough bread or a baguette, or you can use a croissant."

For some local restaurants, turkey sandwiches are staple menu items, not just a seasonal treat.

Galen Sampson, food and beverage director for Harbor Court Hotel, features a Rachel Sandwich for $11 at the hotel's Brightons Restaurant. The Rachel, a turkey version of a Reuben, is "very cheesy," Sampson says - and a very popular item.

The sandwich features thick-cut marble rye topped with Swiss cheese and turkey. Brightons cooks it open-faced on a buttered griddle and finishes it in the oven to warm it through. It is then topped with coleslaw, closed and served with cranberry-orange relish on the side.

At Captain James landing, the Ship-shaped 24-hour landmark in Canton, chef-owner George Tserkis roasts turkeys year-round and keeps a couple of kinds of turkey sandwiches on his menu.

He gets a lot of orders for the hot turkey sandwich - sliced turkey on your choice of white, rye or wheat bread, covered with gravy and served with cranberry jelly and mashed potatoes on the side. He also offers a turkey club sandwich with turkey, bacon, cheese and "whatever the customer wants.

"It's a pretty popular item," Tserkis says.

Brightons' Warm Rachel Sandwich

Makes one sandwich

5 ounces thinly sliced turkey

1 ounce Gruyere cheese

2 slices of marble rye, 3/4-inch thick

butter for griddle

coleslaw for topping

Divide the turkey and cheese between the two slices of bread. Butter the griddle and brown the sandwich open-faced. Finish it in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or less, just to warm it through. Top with coleslaw arid close the sandwich. Serve with cranberry-orange relish on the side.

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