In Praise Of The Leftover Sandwich - The True Meaning Of Christmas
Christmas is about many things, Family. Presents. Die Hard. Overeating. Maybe even Jesus if you're that way inclined.
But in our house, Christmas is about food.
From the turkey to the cheeseboard and everything in between, Christmas is the time to pull out all the stops. A time of year when it's perfectly acceptable to mix sweet and savoury (see cheese with Christmas cake), drink booze for breakfast, and eat a whole tub of Celebrations and not feel bad about it.
Don't forget he festive ham. No knife required, I'm going in with the hands.
By the time I serve Christmas dinner, I've already eaten the equivalent of Christmas Dinner while making it. By this point, I am also leathered.
But when it's all over - after the 12 hour Christmas night sleep coma - the real joy is peeling back the tin foil, seeing what's left, and doing it all over again.
At the apex of this cold cuts bonanza is the leftovers sandwich - which must take its component parts from the Christmas dinner, gravy included. It involves a baguette, a sense of balance and an iron will to succeed.
I've tried constructing the leftover sandwich in a number of ways over the years.
In the early days, I simply sliced the baguette though the middle, like a normal sandwich, and balanced it all in the middle, squishing the top side of the baguette back on to hold everything in place.
As time went on, I honed the technique. I found that carving a bit of bread out of the bottom, like a doughy trough, meant hat you could get more filling in there and made it easier to level out.
Now though, I go all in. I just chop an end of the baguette, hollow it out like some crazed mouse, and insert all the ingredients. Turkey, pigs in blanket, squished down roast potatoes, assorted roast veg (carrot and parsnip with maple syrup is a big shout), a Yorkshire pudding or two, and some shredded up sprout, with the gravy drizzled in at the end, like putting meaty petrol in your sandwich car.
Then just go at it face first, until there's just a crusty end left to remind you of your victory.
You don't need butter. Cranberry sauce on the bottom and horseradish on the top will do the job. These are the rules of the Christmas sandwich and you are obliged to obey them.
I once tried rolling it up in a wrap, like a weird arctic roll. It was a mistake and not one that I've ever been tempted to repeat. It was a mess.
I also tried to combine the starter in the leftover sarnie once, adding Marie Rose sauce from the prawn cocktail starter. I nearly vomited it back out through my nose.
I've mead these mistakes so you don't have to.
'Simon, should I put cheese in it?'
Yes, you can, but leave the gravy. Nobody wants sloppy stilton dribbling down their chin.
You can go smaller and put it in a brioche bun if you like. Consider it a gatewaty sandwich to bigger and better things.
But as I baste my bird on Christmas morning, I'll thinking about just one thing. Getting to grips with it a day later, probably with a hangover and a minor dose of gout.
And isn't that what Christmas is really all about?