Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
Whatever your Christmas is looking like this year, one thing is for certain: at some point over the holidays you’ll be stuffing your festive leftovers in-between two slices of bread, and shovelling the contents hungrily into your gob.
Nowadays, the Christmas sandwich is an institution in its own right. Filled with stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, turkey and anything else Christmassy you’ve got knocking about in the fridge, it’s basically the perfect meal throughout the holidays, when our appetites have all stretched to the very edge of their capacity.
But (as you might have gathered from our rather scathing high-street sandwich round-up) getting a festive sarnie right is no mean feat. Too much cranberry and it tastes like you’re biting into a fruit salad, over-fill with turkey and it’s guaranteed to be dry, and too much gravy means you’ll likely end up with a soggy mess-wich.
To make sure you nail your Christmas sandwich over the holidays and impress all your relatives, Twisted spoke to four sarnie aficionados and asked them to impart their tricks of the trade.
How to make the best Christmas sandwich:
Mondo Sando (London)
(Credit: Mondo Sando)
With cult pop-up outposts in two south London pubs, Jack Macrae and Viggo Blegvad from Mondo Sando know their stuff.
They advise: “Whacking a whole Christmas dinner into a sandwich is obviously great and is rightly lauded under any circumstances, but the one thing that the traditional festive plate is usually lacking is a bit of sharpness, tartness, zing, to cut through all that stodge and gravy.
“A truly great sandwich must have balance, so we always get a pickle or vinegary preserve in there – we’re using a fresh cranberry mostarda (uncooked to preserve the tartness) and pickled onions in our two Xmas sandwiches.”
If you want to create something similar, they add: “At home you can use honestly whatever pickles you have in the fridge (it’s a leftovers special! who cares!) or, you didn’t hear this from us, mix some Branston’s with cranberry sauce (and some hot sauce if you’re feeling fruity).”
The Dusty Knuckle (London)
(Credit: Dusty Knuckle)
Becca Oliver, co-founder of London’s highly revered Dusty Knuckle bakery, says it’s all about balance
“Make sure you cover every single base – you want crunch, you want sauce, you want it vinegary,” she says. “That’s going to cut through all the rich, sausagey insides. Stuff the shit out of your sandwich too, there’s nothing more depressing than a thin sandwich with a few strips of meat.
When you’ve finished packing your sarnie, she advises: “Wrap it in paper so you’re not spraying cranberry sauce all over the shop.
“It doesn’t matter what bread you use as long as it’s fresh. We like focaccia because it’s bubbly but will hold its shape.”
Bada Bing Sandwich Deli (Manchester)
(Credit: Bada Bing Sandwich Deli)
Sam Gormally, owner of the famous Manchester sarnie shop Bada Bing, tells Twisted: “For the best Christmas sandwich, you need a balance of fat, salt, sweet and sour that all good sandwiches need.
“However, as we are proud Northeners, we know that a good roast dinner is nothing without a good gravy (and the same goes for Christmas sandwiches).
“With good gravy you need a good bread to stand up to the moisture. [It needs to be] crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
“But to reiterate…gravy. It’s all about the gravy”.
Max’s Sandwich Shop (London)
(Credit: Max’s Sandwich Shop)
Max Halley, founder of Finsbury Park favourite, Max’s Sandwich Shop, says: “I don’t care what anyone says, never put anything with cloves in it in your sandwich, no matter how festive you might think it is – your sandwich will taste of nothing but potpourri.”
He adds: “Never forget about the benefit of a squeeze of lemon when there’s delicious fatty things about. Use bread with crust everywhere if possible and NEVER, EVER use fucking sourdough. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it’s shit for sandwiches, whatever anyone says.”
On a more technical level, Max suggests: “Always put gravy in the mayo hot, it’ll mix in better. You can always get more reduced gravy into mayonnaise if you mix it hard enough. And add a splash of vinegar afterwards.”
And, perhaps most importantly: “Lettuce does not count as crunchy, it is the definition of freshness and should be applied as and when that is required. If you want crunch in your sandwich, which you should, crush up some crisps.”
“The perfect Christmas sandwich has to be the best turkey and ham (this year we kicked it up a notch with porchetta) freshly roasted veg, loads of mayo and cranberry on thick white bread. We like to add some greenery or cabbage for crunch,” says Piece’s founding director, John Moore.
“We would say to go heavy on your sauces, there’s nothing worse than a dry piece. Cranberry sauce is a must, the sweet, tart berries will balance out the delicious salt and fat of your chosen filling.
“Also, don’t skimp when filling your boxing day sandwich with leftovers, it should be a second Christmas dinner!”
As for on Boxing Day? He adds: “It should be purely turkey, mayo, salt and cranberry…on really bad white bread!”
Sandwich Sandwich (Bristol)
(Credit: Sandwich Sandwich)
Joshua Harry Kleiner, of Bristol’s Sandwich Sandwich, says: “Don’t underestimate the importance of crispy onion mayonnaise in your festive Christmas leftover sandwich.
“Use the mayo as your sandwich glue so all those wonderful festive layers stay together!”
Adding another tip, he continues: “Use high quality thick cranberry sauce. No one likes it when cranberry juice starts leaking into the bread.
“And let’s talk gravy consistency. Gravy is the cherry on top when it comes to Christmas sandwiches. It’s what will set your sandwich out from all the rest.
“Make sure it’s nice and thick though, because no-one likes watery gravy.”
And finally: “Use EVERYTHING. From leftover pigs in blankets to black treacle bacon to honey glazed carrots or sprouts. Get it all in, it’s Christmas after all!”
So, there you have it – take note. There are loads of easy ways you can make the best Christmas sandwich from the comfort of your home.
With sandwich tekkers like this, we know you’re going to be on everyone’s nice list this Christmas.