WINE WITH…Turkey Bahn Mi
One of the blessings of Thanksgiving is the leftover turkey. The only quandary associated with this bounty is which of the many, many delicious turkey-based post-holiday options to choose. Over the years we have made turkey curries, pot pies, and hash. Turkey soup is always welcome this time of
year, as are turkey tacos. And in our opinion, few things in the world are tastier than a classic turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and plenty of mayo. But 2018 is going to be our Turkey Banh Mi year.
Some newcomers to bahn mi are surprised to learn that this baguette-based sandwich is actually a Vietnamese creation, born in Saigon in the 1950s (the baguette itself was introduced in Vietnam in the nineteenth century during the French occupation of Indochina). Today bahn mi is a popular Vietnamese street food item. It usually includes a couple of different meats (from pork belly to meatballs to pâté), and certain vegetables are ubiquitous, including cucumber, carrots and daikon or radish. These are generally pickled, but to keep our bahn mi as wine friendly as possible, instead of pickling we recommend dousing them briefly in a very light vinegary bath. Sliced chilies and cilantro are de rigueur, but for those who don’t like cilantro, fresh basil leaves may be used (even better, add both, and perhaps throw in a few fresh mint leaves as well).
Baguettes are the traditional bahn mi bread. Vietnamese baguettes are typically softer and airier, with a thinner crust, than contemporary French or American versions, which tend to be denser and chewier and have a harder crust. You could substitute another kind of roll if you wish such as hero, kaiser, or Mexican bolillo.
Turkey Bahn Mi
For 2 people
1 baguette or 2 mini baguettes
About ¼ cucumber (we used a long English cuke)
1 teaspoon vinegar, preferably white wine or sherry
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sriracha or similar hot sauce
About ½ pound leftover turkey, sliced
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and cut in very thin rounds
About 10-12 sprigs cilantro
One handful of basil and/or mint leaves, roughly torn (optional)
Cut the bread in half lengthwise. Use your fingers to hollow out the bread, making a trough in each of the halves. Cut the radishes, carrot and cucumber in thin 2-inch julienne strips; then place all the strips together in a small bowl and toss them with the vinegar. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the mayonnaise and sriracha, then spread the mixture generously on both of the hollowed-out bread halves. Divide the turkey and place it on the bottom half of each roll. Scatter the jalapeno over the turkey then add the vegetables. Top with the cilantro leaves and torn basil and/or mint leaves.
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Most good Thanksgiving wines should pair well with this bahn mi. Just as with the groaning feast the day before, full-flavored whites and soft reds work nicely, as do both rosés and sparklers. We found that overt wood flavors in whites and firm tannins in reds proved distracting. Regardless of color, opt instead for a wine that feels supple on your palate and is not too delicate so will hold its own with the meal.