In 2019, it felt as if the Christmas sandwich discourse reached fever pitch. As ever, competition for attention has broken out among the chains, but this year, the independents have entered the race too.
It’s now a fixture of the season: a lunchtime treat for those running down the working days and winding up to the holiday proper. But most are garbage, and rely on ritualistic nostalgia more than deliciousness for sales. Here, in no particular order, are six that do lean into nostalgia, but also taste good as well. Try one or all of them over the course of the next week.
A creative and very 2019 composition from the podcasters in King’s Cross. This year’s breakout sandwich specialist sandwiches roast Swaledale turkey thigh, smoked turkey breast, spicy cranberry xo, bread sauce mayo, marsala gravy granary bread moistmaker, pickled red cabbage, and watercress inside two thick-cut slices of white bloomer. £9.50.
Last year’s breakout sandwich specialist has gone all in on trying to recreate the leftover sandwich. With it, the Visions team stuffs roast turkey breast, parsnip puree, sprouts with bacon, orange, cinnamon and red-wine braised red cabbage, cranberry sauce, chicken skin salt, into brown-butter buttered toasted sliced white. Presented with a pickled gherkin, shoestring fries and a turkey gravy dip: Trashy, good, very satisfying. £10 with a packet of Portuguese crisps and a soft drink.
Simultaneously tastes like Christmas dinner itself while having the same festive flavour intensification of a Boxing Day leftover effort: A layer of soothing, nutmeggy bread sauce, sprout tops, bacon, and spiced cranberry sauce join slow-cooked turkey leg and moist slices of roast breast with a trim of crisp, golden, salty skin. Its brioche-like milk bun adds richness and just about holds it all together. Available this Friday — £6 to take away, £7.20 to eat in.
Three “Chrismukkah” options are available at St. John’s Wood’s eminent, 75-year-old Jewish deli: Roast turkey, Brussels sprout and apple slaw, chestnut purée, cranberry sauce, sage and onion stuffing, crispy turkey skin, and crispy shallots — on a special-edition cranberry bagel. Or roast butternut squash, and crispy sage, stilton cream cheese, onions, rocket, and cranberry sauce on a cranberry bagel. Or, finally, a smoked salmon with horseradish, dill and black pepper crème fraîche, dill pickled cucumbers, and capers on an everything bagel. All priced at £6.50.
Chick ‘n’ Sours
London’s noisiest gonzo fried chicken restaurant apparently turned to the 1970s for inspiration this Christmas. The special sandwich crams fried chicken, shredded iceberg lettuce and Kewpie mayonnaise with a stretchy cheese fondue spiked with cubes of smoked ham and a slice of fresh pineapple. It’s then finished with two battered, pickled onion rings and a sprinkling of fermented red cabbage. The stack is held together — temporarily — with a glazed cherry skewer. £14.
Chef Jacob Kenedy’s Louisianan gastropub in Islington has created a festive po’boy, replacing deep-fried oysters with deep-fried turkey, cranberry, and sweet-spiced stuffing. Two sizes: 6 inch £8; 12 inch £15.
And for a run-down on the chains and supermarkets, this is a comprehensive run-down. And this guy tried a few:
Thrilled to announce that my first Christmas sandwich of the year was a cheeky brie and cranberry number from Tesco's. A little dry and limited on the cranberry front, but its relative lack of festivity felt appropriate for November 14th.— jon.porter (@JonPorty) November 14, 2019