There are people who complain that this week’s Broncos-Patriots/Manning-Brady game is completely overhyped. There are also people who complain about traditional Thanksgiving foods being completely overhyped. All of these people are insane.
As soon as November hits, everything can be turkey, stuffing, potato, cranberry and gravy tasting in my book. Actually, I don’t even wait for November. If I am in a diner that offers any sort of a Thanksgiving sandwich or platter, that’s what I’m ordering for lunch, no matter what the calendar says. And since the weekend before Thanksgiving is when a lot of people do practice runs of dishes they’re making later in the week, this is a good sandwich for testing out the cranberries, maybe some new seasoning for your dressing, or the bread you plan on baking Thursday morning.
Alternatively, you can make this sandwich the night before Thanksgiving and serve as a light lunch snack during the Packers-Lions game or even Raiders-Cowboys depending on which coast you live on and how late you eat your Thanksgiving dinner. Or maybe you eat early in the day, and you need something for the Steelers-Ravens night game. Pick up some brie and you should already have everything you need to share this with your friends and family on Thanksgiving. Or this Sunday. Or Monday.
(Although god help you though if you’re already entertaining relatives this weekend, especially ones who will not want to watch football on Sunday night, much less on Thursday. Who said your Aunt Roberta could show up four days early anyway? And who does she think she is, holding the remote and saying she’s got to catch up on “Bad Girls Club” while chain-smoking in your living room? Christ, you should have vetted your future in-laws more carefully.)
Herbed Cranberry Brie Sandwiches
What make this sandwich work is sautéing the herbs in wine and olive oil to make the dressing. It cuts right through the sweetness of the cranberry and the richness of the cheese so you have a perfect balance of flavors. Not too filling, but not so light that after you’ve had one or two slices you’re looking for chips in the cupboard.
If you’ve followed my recipes for a while, you’ll know I’m a big fan of making pressed sandwiches, like this Italian Pressed Sandwich. You can make them ahead of time so you can either pull them out of the fridge when you want them or you can easily bring them to party or tailgate, letting the sandwiches rest gives them time to develop their favors just a little bit more than if you served them right away, plus you can easily cut them into smaller serving sizes for a snack. All of these elements make a pressed sandwich one of my usual go-to Sunday foods, especially on busy weeks like this one.
You will need:
1 large baguette (14-16 ounces)
4 tablespoons dry white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 sage leaves, about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced
1-2 rosemary sprigs, about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced
1/2 – 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 – 1 1/2 cup cranberry sauce, cooled
12-16 ounces brie (Use more brie if you are cutting off the rind. I usually leave the rind on, but I know it’s not for everyone.)
Have never made your own cranberry sauce? Easy, 12-16 ounces of fresh cranberries, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar. Heat in a large saucepan until desired consistency. Want to make it fancy? Toss in some orange zest, pinch of allspice, or a cinnamon stick. Or go crazy and use all of the above. What you do to your berries is your business.
I’ve found that it’s easier to make this particular pressed sandwich — really any pressed sandwich I use baguettes for — by first cutting the loaf into four sections. Makes it easier to manage during assembly and pressing. So cut the baguette into quarters, and then slice each quarter in half making top and bottom pieces.
Mince your herbs if you haven’t already. In a small skillet, gently heat the olive oil, white wine, herbs, salt and pepper to a simmer over medium-low, occasionally whisking. Allow the mixture to reduce for about 3-5 minutes and remove from the heat. Cool for a few minutes and then evenly brush on both the top and bottom of the open baguette.
Spread half of the cranberry sauce on the bottom slices of the baguette, then top with brie, then cover with the rest of the cranberry sauce. Place the top slices of the baguette on each section and then tightly wrap each loaf with plastic wrap.
Place the sandwiches in the refrigerator under a a cookie sheet and then weigh down the cookie sheet as much as possible for maximum squishing. Press for at least 1-2 hours to allow the flavors to seep together and develop.
When ready to serve, unwrap and slice into 1-2 inch pieces.
Still looking for something else to serve this weekend or next Thursday? May I recommend Roasted Butternut Squash Sage Dip, Savory Mushroom Pithiviers, Chorizo Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins or even Tart Cranberry Deviled Eggs? All work for both holidays and football, so perfect for when you need to cook for both.