Disclaimer: Sandwich thieves are operating in this area. You have been warned.
For the uninitiated (and point-blank deprived) the Moist Maker is a superior sandwich consisting of holier than thou Thanksgiving / Christmas leftovers. The only thing that’s disgusting about it is the name. And the number of burps you’ll be doing after you’ve eaten it.
Nothing else competes. Not your Pret’s, certainly not your Tesco meal deals and not your Costas. It is a sandwich in a league of its own and earning your Moist Maker stripes takes a steady pair of hands and an even steadier appetite. After all, you’re not simply building a sandwich here, you’re building edible dreams.
So, who died and made this Yuletide double-decker king, anyway? Well, Hovis died. You can’t be constructing a Christmas sandwich with any ol’ flaccid loaf occupying your bread bin. It needs to be big enough and crusty enough that wrapping your chops around it is something of an Olympic sport – like a slobbery game of Speak Out at Christmas. Maybe not the best parlour game in covid times but you get the gist. Basically, if your mouth looks relaxed when eating it, you’re doing it wrong. Throw another storey on there and come back to us when you’re going to take this seriously.
Which segues nicely into the next point. Something else that sets this sarnie apart from the cheese and onion nonsense of the world: layers. Sublime appropriately hydrated, merrily drunk layers. Not so much that they’re dripping with gravy but just juicy enough that you can still identify its bread-based foundations.
To hell with that underwhelming Boxing Day turkey sandwich everyone pretends to enjoy, cobbled together with the scraps of meat no one wanted the first time around and a knob of butter that’s probably not even Lurpak. This is 2021 and we deserve more than another serving of disappointment.
Whilst the word ‘moist’ often causes a visceral reaction amongst all of us, the one place it can exist without the risk of being sick in your mouth is within the context of a Christmas leftovers sandwich. Only then does it become socially acceptable to utter such an adjective in the presence of your parents without losing a significant part of your soul in the process.
Preface done – let’s get into the fillings and the assembly…
The Moist Maker origins
Truth be told, it’s the only origin story that matters this Christmas. The Moist Maker was made popular by the cult 90s sitcom Friends. It was the show that introduced us to The Rachel haircut, brought a whole new meaning to the word *seven* and introduced us to the concept of Unagi, but the best gift it ever bestowed upon us by a long stretch was the titular Moist Maker, Monica Geller’s (Courteney Cox) signature post-thanksgiving sandwich.
In season five, episode nine titled “The One with Ross’s sandwich” we go on quite the ride with Ross, Monica’s brother, as he discovers that not only has one of his co-workers eaten his Moist Maker *audible gasp* but they didn’t even finish it, on account of it being ‘too big’ apparently. What a sad little life, Jane.
Ingredients you will need:
- Artisanal bread
- Seasonal veg (carrots, onions, celery and the like)
- Roast potatoes (if leftovers exist)
- Pork sausage meat / mince for the stuffing
- Baking soda
- Fresh sage
- Fresh parsley
- Fresh thyme
- Orange juice
- Mascovado sugar
- Wine (optional but recommended)
- Turkey (sliced / shredded)
- Turkey stock
- Plain flour
We’re going to assume you’ve already cooked your turkey on Christmas Day because we just can’t fathom the energy it would require to make a whole Christmas feast for the sake of leftover sandwiches… but in the event that you haven’t and you’re wanting to make every component of the Moist Maker right this second (we take our Christmas hat off to you), butterflying your turkey is the way to go. Removing the spine, the neck and the wishbone and essentially splaying your bird out to flatten it and make it cook more evenly.
Line a baking tray with foil, roughly chop some onions, carrots and celery to add onto the bottom of the tray. Position your turkey on a wire rack over the vegetables – the veg will catch any fat and prevent the turkey juices from burning.
Season generously with roughly half a cup of salt and a tsp of baking powder for crispy skin perfection, then whack it in the oven for approximately 2 hours at 220 degrees. Rest for half an hour before carving. Always temperature check before consumption.
After watching / drooling over many a YouTube video (thank you Babish), the consensus is a Moist Maker simply must contain stuffing and true to top-of-the-class Monica form, it’s gotta be homemade for it to meet M.M levels of stardom.
As with all these subsequent steps, we pray you’ve completed them on Christmas Day and have all your ingredients conveniently chilling in your fridge because cooking all this lot on Boxing Day is not the one. Your PJs did not sign up for this toxic productivity.
Slice your artisanal bread, or crusty bread as it’s known in all circles, and then cut into cubes – you’re going to toast these hunks on a low and slow heat to make croutons. Spread them out across a couple of baking trays and put them in the oven for around two hours at 200 degrees. Bye moisture, bye.
Take your sausage meat, add it into a bowl with 1 tbsp chopped sage, 1 clove of crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Mix it all together and sauté the pork on the stovetop. Remove the pork, drain and cool, leaving some of the fat behind to sauté the onion and celery.
Add your aforementioned hunks of bread into a big bowl, now nicely toasted and transformed into croutons. Combine with the pork, sautéed vegetables, chopped fresh sage, parsley and thyme.
Temper two eggs with a bit of warm stock to prevent scrambling and add to the bowl with the pork, veggies, herbs and croutons. Mix in with some more stock until it’s nicely saturated and you’re able to work it into a mass with your hands.
Grease an ovenproof/casserole dish with chicken fat, transfer your stuffing and roast for 40-50 minutes at 190 degrees.
For the gravy flavour to really slap, you’re going to need to use that turkey spine you chiselled out earlier to elevate your store-bought stock. Sounds grim, tastes sensational.
Brown off the turkey pieces in oil before adding your veg. Throw in some roughly chopped celery and carrots and onion. Add in a handful of fresh thyme and 12 ish cups of stock and simmer for a couple of hours for a one-way ticket to “mmm is this homemade?”.
When it’s reduced by about 4 cups, strain into a large measuring jug ready to make your gravy.
Add 4 tbsp chicken fat and 4 tbsp flour to a frying pan to form a light blonde roux to thicken your gravy. Slowly add in the stock and continually whisk until it forms a darker, smooth lump-free paste.
Size matters when it comes to the Moist Maker which means you will need to accommodate three pieces of bread, not two, not two with a thick crust, three whole slices of bread. We told you this was no ordinary sarnie.
The Cranberry Sauce
Technically speaking, you can use a jar straight from the shops, but in Monica’s world that’s Moist Maker sacrilege.
Making your own calls for just three ingredients – 350g fresh or frozen cranberries, 250ml fresh orange juice (or water) and 200g light muscovado sugar. Cook down your cranberries and simmer all your ingredients together until it starts to look jammy but the cranberries are still holding their shape (you can also chuck in a cinnamon stick and a glug of red wine because f*ck it, it’s Christmas). Add a little water whilst simmering if needed. After about 10 minutes, add in 2 tsp orange zest and a pinch of salt if desired and you’re done.
The Gravy-Soaked Layer (aka the money shot)
The gravy-soaked layer is le making of this sandwich and the glue that holds the whole family together, ingeniously tucked in the thick of it all, flanked between the festive trimmings of your choice.
Take a slice of untoasted bread, let it bathe in the gravy for a few seconds on either side, ensuring that it’s thoroughly soaked in the good stuff and dripping with thick Yuletide glee. Don’t come up for air before the 10 seconds is up.
Toast your top and tail bread in the oven on *one* side, leaving the other sides untoasted for the safety and protection of the roof of your mouth.
Grab your top and bottom bread layer toasted side up and spread over a layer of cranberry sauce. Follow with sliced white turkey meat on the bottom and a thin layer of stuffing. Grab your gravy-soaked layer and stack him atop the stuffing patty. Go in with more white meat, another layer of stuffing and then add your final piece of bread, toasted side facing the filling.
In our experience, leftover roast potatoes don’t exist because they generally get eaten on Christmas Day, namely during the washing up witching hour but if you’re lucky enough to have some spuds left, you know what to do. Get them in there!
If you must have greenery, garnish your final layer with a few baby gem lettuce leaves and a healthy dollop of garlic mayo.
All these layers and not one mention of cheese – the audacity. Well, of all the recipes we scrutinised, not one listed cheese as a Moist Maker dealbreaker… make it make sense! We’d sooner choke on a wishbone than support that. Chuck in some brie wherever you see fit. What else are we to do with that footlong cheeseboard running the full gamut of the kitchen?
Now for the finale – slice your Moist Maker on the diagonal, never straight down the middle. Any sandwich worthy of a post this dramatic should be sliced diagonally for creative integrity.
And there you have it, your Moist Maker 101. Equal parts art, equal parts science.