I made this last weekend for Sunday dinner, and wow, was it good! Comfort food with a little bit of modern flair. The pulled turkey sandwich recipe is from Nadia G’s Bitchin Kitchen – she calls it pulled turkey sandwiches w/ bbq sauce. Must be a Canadian thing, because it’s gravy on there — not what I think of as bbq sauce (the red, yummy stuff). Nadia’s recipe calls for 4 cups of cooked turkey — I’ll show you how I made mine. I’ve made a few of Nadia’s recipes, and they are all super yummy. She’s also a lot of fun to watch – you should check her out. The Cauliflower & Brussel Sprout Gratin is inspired by Bobby Flay and his Bar Americain cookbook. I added the sprouts because I wanted them and changed up the cheese just a little… (You can get that recipe here)
Let’s start with the turkey.
Best way to make pulled anything? Slow cooker. I put this on around noon, so we could eat at 6 or 7ish. I think it turned out to be more like 8 – the cauliflower stuff took much longer than I expected.
Start with a couple plump turkey thighs, salt & peppered, and whatever veggies happen to be lying around. I used onions, carrots & celery. (That’s Hawaiian black salt – I love its flavor but really only use it in the black Crock Pot, because it does turn my other pans black – it washes off, but I don’t like to see it)
On top of that, pile on a turkey breast, more salt and pepper and a sprig of sage. Add chicken stock or water and let it cook. Slowly.
At this point, I took the dog for a walk on the beach and then took a nice long nap. I like waking up to the smell of cooking turkey. So does the dog.
I rotated the thighs and breast about halfway through. I like to mix things up like that.
About 4 hours into the cooking, I started on the gravy and the cauliflower.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan and whisk in the flour to make a roux. It will turn a beautiful caramel color. Set aside and get ready to cry (onions!)
Time to saute the onions. Let them get a little crispy around the edges.
Deglaze the pan with the turkey stock and whisk in the roux. Add the spices, brown sugar and balsamic.
Let it bubble up for a second then turn the heat down and simmer until it thickens up. Mine took quite a while, but I think it’s because I used a Le Creuset rather than a regular frying pan. Keep an eye on it and whisk occasionally.
While that thickens up, pull the turkey. After 6 or 7 hours in the slow cooker, that turkey is falling off the bone. I take the meat out of the broth and shred with 2 forks. The broth and veggies left behind can be saved for soup or something, if you want.
At this point, I put a little aside for the dog – once the gravy goes on, it’ll be too spicy for him.
Add gravy to the turkey to soak it, but make sure to leave enough behind for smothering the sandwiches. When you’re ready to eat, toast up some bread, prep some peas (I boiled frozen for about 30 seconds or so) and wipe the drool from the corner of your mouth…
Pulled Turkey Sandwiches
- 2 turkey thighs and a turkey breast (or your choice of white and dark meat)
- onions, celery, carrots to flavor meat
- 3 cups stock (chicken, turkey – even water will work in the slow cooker)
- salt & pepper
- fresh sage – 1 sprig for cooking, 2 leaves minced for gravy
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 flour
- olive oil
- medium onion, diced
- 4 cups turkey or chicken stock (for gravy)
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 cup green peas
- sliced bread of your choice (I used “everything” Italian)
Season turkey meat with salt and pepper and cook in slow cooker with your choice of vegetables and broth or water. High for 6-8 hours until turkey falls from bone and is easily shredded. To make the gravy, start by melting the butter. Whisk in the flour gradually and continue whisking for a few minutes until the roux is a light caramel color. Be careful not to burn the roux. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the diced onion until it’s a bit crispy. The pan will have some brown crispy onion stuff stuck to it – deglaze with the stock and whisk in the roux. Add the sugar, spices and balsamic. Bring to a slight boil and then reduce heat to simmer until the gravy thickens. This may take up to half an hour, depending on your pan and desired thickness. Don’t rush it, stir occasionally and season with salt & pepper to taste.
Shred the turkey meat with 2 forks and add about half the gravy. Blanch the peas in salted water – only about 30 seconds for frozen (add another minute or so for fresh). Toast the bread, if desired. Pile the turkey on the bread, pour on more gravy and top with a handful of peas.
Hopefully you’ll have some leftovers, because this is even better the next day!
Cauliflower and Brussel Sprout Gratin makes a great side dish for the turkey sandwiches, but you can’t go wrong with mashed potatoes or french fries, either…