Up All Knight is a series that celebrates the excellent, breathtaking, exciting, wonderful things in our world. It is about changing perspectives. (To read the opening installment, click here!) Instead of dwelling on the things we hate that bring us down, it is a chance to find things to bring some levity and joy and encouragement. If you have any suggestions that our resident UCF Knight David Staples can tackle, feel free to email him at UpAllKnight_SL@icloud.com. Join us on this journey up!
After a break for Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and Bankruptcy Wednesday, UP ALL KNIGHT is back!!!! Before I wow you with the offering for this week, I wanted to give a little sampling of what will be coming up between now and the end of the year. Since UP ALL KNIGHT is a celebration of the good, great, and grand, I am going to offer up a kind of “Best Of 2016” for the month of December. Contrary to John Oliver’s brilliant episode a few weeks back, there were some things worth celebrating in 2016. So I will look at some of those movies, shows, sporting events, books, and random incidents that made 2016 tolerable. I also am coming up with some cool ideas for 2017. Speaking of cool ideas, let’s have you guys send some in! I am always looking for things to cover. Just email me at email@example.com. On to the goodness!
One of my very most favorite (and one of the more quotable) Friends episodes was “The One with Ross’ Sandwich.” Basically, every year Ross’ sister Monica makes these amazing Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches. I’ll let him describe it. “You see, my sister makes these amazing turkey sandwiches. Her secret is, she puts a… an extra slice of gravy-soaked bread in the middle; I call it the ‘Moist Maker’.” Now we all know that the word “moist” is one of the most disgusting words ever created. But don’t hold that against the sandwich itself. This sandwich has become legendary. People have actually been coming up with real-life executions of this meal. Like this guy. Pretty cool.
Now the average Joe may not be up to crafting something that extreme, but I think everyone has at some point realized just how incredible the Thanksgiving sandwich is. Even as a child, I loved cold leftover turkey on bread with lots of butter. As I got older, I learned that leaving it just at turkey was missing the boat.
For those of you who have not experienced a Thanksgiving sandwich, it is where you combine multiple Thanksgiving elements into one colossal offering. There is turkey, of course. But there also is stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy. Some people will add in other elements, but these four are the standard components to build from. The crazy thing is how well those ingredients work together. Sure, most people have some combination of those on a plate on Thursday. But cramming it all into a sandwich on Friday? Inspired.
As the legend of the Thanksgiving sandwich has grown, restaurants have jumped onto the bandwagon. When we were flying back from Florida this year, the Quiznos in the airport had a Thanksgiving sub! I was so close to grabbing one, but the line was really really long. Probably getting their final Thanksgiving fix. Usually these are limited offerings for a week or two, so by the time this article runs you will have to wait until next year. But I wanted to highlight some of the delicious creations that I have found over the years.
4 RIVERS SMOKEHOUSE: THE PILGRIM
Anyone who knows me well knows that this is literally my favorite restaurant in America. I have lived in BBQ meccas like South Carolina and Texas. I have also tried BBQ in Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. I have never found a BBQ place that I like better than Florida’s 4Rivers. It is the best of the best. And for two weeks around Thanksgiving, they offer up The Pilgrim sandwich. “We’re so excited about Thanksgiving that we’re offering this boatload of turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry chutney special early. Grab one before they’re all gobbled up.” It is truly magnificent. Their smoked turkey is already fantastic. And each of the other elements are equally enjoyable. This year, I was in Florida over Thanksgiving and had just one opportunity to eat at 4Rivers, so I didn’t get to devour this sandwich this year. There’s always next year, I suppose.
TORCHY’S TACOS: THE BIG PILGRIM
I have fallen in love with this Texas based taco shop. They have a full roster of insane tacos that put the other taco shops in town to shame. From the fried avocado to the best brisket I’ve had in Texas, Torchy’s doesn’t play around. In addition, they have the best fried chicken in Houston – it just comes in a taco. So when I heard about this Thanksgiving entree, I had to give it a shot. “Cajun fried turkey, sweet potato puree, cornbread stuffing, homemade jalapeño cranberry relish, cotija cheese, cilantro, & Chipotle Ranch.” Yup. It was a messy taco, but the flavors were incredible. The fried turkey possibly surpassed the chicken tenders for taste. The unique addition of the sweet potato and cornbread brought a whole different spin to the Thanksgiving sandwich. And the cranberry relish was top notch. [I’m a big cranberry relish fan. I use my mom’s recipe to make my own version and I love trying other recipes as well.]
PUBLIX: HOLIDAY SUB
If you have lived in the Southeast, you have heard of Publix grocery stores. They have expanded out of their home state of Florida to spawn throughout the Southeast now – unfortunately not to Texas, though. I’m a huge Publix fan and one reason is their Deli’s sub shop. These aren’t your average grocery store lame-o subs. They are masterpieces that can contain anything from hot roast beef to chicken tenders to any lunch meat you want. I’m serious. Tell them you want some specific meat and they’ll go over and cut it and make your sub. For Thanksgiving, they have a Holiday Sub. It is a little different than the standard Thanksgiving sandwich, but it is still soooo good. It sports turkey, bacon, smoked gruyère, cranberry-orange relish and mayo on a five-grain roll. As with all of these sandwiches, it is a limited time deal. So if you are wandering through Florida one Thanksgiving season, hit Publix for lunch and 4 Rivers for dinner.
DOUBLE DAVE’S: THANKSGIVING PIZZA
Now I know that some of you are thinking I’m going a bit crazy with this particular version. I would have thought the same thing, until I tried it. Double Dave’s is a Texas/Oklahoma based pizza chain. We have one about a block from our house. Every month they come up with a monthly pizza offering. We have tried most of them and every one of them was awesome. The Wiz was a cheesesteak pizza complete with Cheese Whiz on it. The Elvis had peanut butter, banana, and chocolate chips. They even had a Southern Fried one with fried chicken chunks and mashed potatoes. So November rolled around and with it came their Thanksgiving Pizza. “Hand-tossed crust with stuffing, brown gravy, diced turkey, onion & mozzarella. Topped with tangy cranberry sauce. Gobble, gobble!” It was ridiculously good! I never would have suspected a pizza could work like that. Few companies would even dare to attempt something this brazen. But I was glad they did.
D’ANGELOS – THANKSGIVING TOASTED
Here is one company that understands the demand for this fine sandwich. Their Thanksgiving Toasted sub is NOT a limited time dealio. Instead, it is offered every blessed day. “Hand-sliced Turkey Breast, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Mayonnaise, served with a side of Hot Gravy.” Every single day of the year, you can enjoy that holiday leftover awesomeness. Of course, you have to live in New England to be able to partake. For a short wonderful time, there was a D’Angelos in Orlando. My wife, who is also a huge fan of this sandwich, actually liked getting subs during that time. Alas, we are now too far away to experience this bliss.
So, there you go. Of course, you can make your own masterpiece and it doesn’t have to be limited to the weeks around Thanksgiving. You also can get creative at places like Boston Market, where they sell turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry relish. Just make your own version – something that I do from time to time. If you haven’t experienced this king of the leftovers, get thee to a turkey dinner! Do you have other favorite locations that excel at the Thanksgiving sandwich? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org and share. We’ll be sure to spread the love around. And we certainly are not opposed to free samples…