Written by Beth Hautala of Eat Write Repeat.
I remember being five, maybe six, padding barefoot down the stairs at my grandparent’s lake house sometime after I’d been put to bed. It was post-Thanksgiving celebrations, which meant all of the adults, or nearly all, were draped over various articles of furniture, drowsing. Save for Grandpa, who was busy in the kitchen.
“What are you doing?” I whispered.And he winked at me. We were both criminal in our activity. Me for being out of bed, and he for eating more than Grandma thought he should. I watched on tiptoe, my view counter-high, as he sliced a thick wedge of Grandma’s sweet brown molasses bread, piled slice after slice of flaky turkey breast over top, and then spooned gravy over the whole thing. A little shake of salt and a dash of pepper, and Grandpa was a happy man.
“Your Grandpa just needs a little snack,” he whispered back.
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That memory has stayed.
And as is always the case with me, food and memory intertwine until I can’t determine if memory makes the food better than it actually was. Regardless, open-faced turkey sandwiches are still my favorite way to use up the massive quantities of turkey left over from Thanksgiving. And if you’re truly adventurous, spread some mashed potatoes over the bread before topping it with turkey and gravy.
My grandpa would approve.
Open Faced Turkey Sandwiches have three basic ingredients: Bread, turkey, and gravy. You can get fancy and pile on mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, caramelized-apricot carrots—whatever—the basic principal remains the same. A pile of Thanksgiving leftovers on bread. Carb overload. There is probably nothing more culinarily unrefined. Memory romanticizes the meal for me. But truly, if you’re looking for a good lunch to serve the kiddos or a comfort-food left-overs dinner, this is it.
¼ cup water (warm—nearly hot but not quite)
Sweet Brown Molasses Bread
2 cups whole milk (warm—nearly hot but not quite)
4 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons molasses
1 cup Graham Flour
4 cups unbleached bread flour
Using a stand mixer, (or a large mixing bowl and plenty of elbow grease), whisk yeast into water and milk until frothy. Add salt, sugar, and molasses. Whisk again until granules are dissolved and incorporated. Whisk in one cup of graham flour and then using a kneading hook, add the additional four cups of unbleached flour. Then knead until dough is smooth and elastic and all of the flour has been incorporated.
(If you are using elbow grease for this process, add one cup of flour at a time until the dough is thick and ready to knead. Then move the dough to a well-floured surface and knead the remaining flour into the dough until it is smooth and elastic.)
Divide the dough into two parts and shape them into loaves. Place them in well-greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
It’s universal knowledge that homemade bread is best served just out of the oven, so once your bread has baked, turn it out onto a countertop to cool just a bit, and slice generously. Toast lightly, lay flat on a plate, and top with slices of hot left-over turkey. Spoon gravy over the meat, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
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