Turkey. Potatoes. Sprouts. Yorkshires. Parsnips. Your standard Christmas spread contains a brigade of ingredients that all go perfectly well together on a plate. Don’t get me wrong: it’s an exceedingly enjoyable assembly of ingredients, especially when slathered in gallons of gravy, but it’s also exceedingly… boring.
The hypothesis I’d like to present here is that the leftovers sandwich you make the day after Christmas is better than the dinner itself. Because – and forgive me for saying this – as good as Christmas dinner is, it really is just a dressed-up version of a Sunday roast, isn’t it? The only real difference is whether or not you have got a paper hat sitting on your bonce while you chow down on that familiar combination of roasted meat and carbohydrates.
The leftovers sandwich, on the other hand, is a food that’s completely unique to Boxing Day. A meal that’s much more Christmassy than Christmas dinner. When else are you going to have an excuse to put pigs in blankets, brussels sprouts, and bread sauce into a demi-baguette? Never. The 26th of December is the one day a year that you get to enjoy a sandwich that’s only limited by your imagination. And whatever’s left in the fridge.
"My favourite Christmas sandwich is actually something I make for breakfast on Boxing Day," says Freddie Janssen, founder of Snackbar in Dalston. "Why wait until lunchtime?! For me, the best way to soak up everything I drank the day before is to make a festive take on a Monte Cristo sandwich, it’s a cross between a Croque Monsieur and French toast. I put leftover cheese (my favourite is Ogleshield) and slices of glazed Christmas ham and sandwich them between slices of brioche with lashings of honey mustard mayo and cranberry sauce."
Those "lashings" of mustard mayo and cranberry sauce are what Freddie maintains to be the key to making the perfect Christmas sandwich. "They provide a sharpness and a sweetness to cut through the salty cheese and ham," she says. It's a technique I'll certainly be looking to crib this year though, admittedly, the biggest trouble I have with making a Christmas leftovers sandwich is knowing when enough is enough. On more than one occasion I've fucked the job by throwing simply far too much between two slices of bread; an overload that puts the whole sarnie's balance off-kilter.
"Christmas, with its various dishes and leftovers, is a time of endless sandwich possibilities," agrees Nicholas Balfe, the owner of Larry's – a popular restaurant and sandwich mecca Peckham. "When there are so many delicious things around, it can be tempting to go overboard on your Christmas sandwiches, but, in my opinion, you want to walk the line between ridiculously indulgent yet still balanced."