Friday, September 6, 2013

Smoked Turkey, Kale and Blue Cheese Sandwiches

Last Year's Post: Seafood Cobb Salad
Two Years Ago:  Roasted Stuffed Squash

Football Season
I think sandwiches are one of the great food inventions of all time.  There's just something so visceral about picking your food up with your hands rather than using a knife and fork - I think that's why bar food and appetizers are so popular.  I was at a wedding shower the other day that involved brunch food such as scones, muffins, and fruit.  Even though there were plates and utensils nearly everyone just picked things up with their hands to eat.  America is a nation of casual eaters.

The one danger of sandwiches is that it's easy to get in a rut, even for foodies.  I specifically wanted to make this particular sandwich because kale is not something I would normally put in a sandwich.  Kale and broccoli rabe are very popular ingredients right now, partly because they're very healthy and partly because they go so well with meat in sandwiches or sliders.  Both have slightly bitter flavors that balance meats and cheeses well.  In this particular combination, the slightly garlicky kale balances the smoked turkey and the creamy, blue cheese dressing perfectly.

I always try to mention some options for ingredient substitutions in recipes.  In this case, you could certainly vary the type of bread and the meat, but I would encourage you to stick with the kale and blue cheese dressing because they're perfect together.  You could also substitute leftover roast turkey instead of the thin-sliced deli turkey, which is a great way to use Thanksgiving leftovers.

You start by mixing the blue cheese dressing. You could also use a good quality bottled blue cheese dressing if you don't feel like making it from scratch.

Then you stem, chop and saute the kale until it's nice and tender.

To assemble the sandwiches, spread the dressing on all the bread slices and top half the slices with kale, turkey, and more kale before placing the tops on the sandwiches.

 You could choose to finish the sandwiches in a skillet, in a panini press, or not toasted at all.  This is the kind of pub food that would be great with a cold beer, a crisp dill pickle, and a great football game on TV.

printable recipe
Smoked Turkey, Kale and Blue Cheese Sandwiches
Serves 4

 Note: High-quality blue cheese salad dressing may be substituted for the first three ingredients.

1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2-3 T milk
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces fresh kale, stems and inner ribs discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
8 slices country white or sourdough bread
12 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

Mash the blue cheese and mayonnaise together in a bowl to a coarse puree; season with pepper and thin with milk to desired consistency and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet; add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the chicken stock and the kale.  Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over moderate heat until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about three minutes longer.  Let cool slightly.

To assemble the sandwiches:  place bread on work surface.  Divide cheese mixture between bread slices, spreading evenly.  Top four slices with half the kale, all of the turkey, and the remaining kale.  Top with the remaining bread slices, cheese side down. 
Melt one tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Spread the other tablespoon of butter over the tops of the sandwiches.  Place sandwiches in the skillet and cook until golden brown on the bottom, then carefully flip and cook the other side until golden.

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