Guilty Pleasures

The Holiday Turkey Sandwich at Earl of Sandwich Is Thanksgiving Stuffed Into A Sandwich

The Guilty Pleasure: The Holiday Turkey Sandwich
Where to Get It: Earl of Sandwich
Price: $5.99
What it Really Costs: Eating this may cause flashbacks to awkward family dinners and Black Friday sales gone awry.   

What if you could eat a traditional American-style Thanksgiving meal any day of the year? Would you consume roasted turkey with all the trimmings at will? Would you go heavy on the liquid silk that is turkey gravy?

It turns out you can — sort of. Earl of Sandwich, the sandwich chain with an outpost near Fifth Street and Mill Avenue in Tempe, offers a specialty sandwich called the Holiday Turkey Sandwich, which is kind of like a Thanksgiving meal stuffed between two pieces of bread.  

Its name may sound like a seasonal offering — something that shows up on menus around October, and then disappears right around the New Year. But, as it turns out, the Holiday Turkey Sandwich is available year-round.

Which begs the question: Is nothing sacred? Isn't much of the appeal of the McRib, or the almighty Pumpkin Spice Latte, derived from the fact that these things are not available year-round? Are we even allowed to eat turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce on, say, the Fourth of July? Isn't there a law against eating this stuff before the Fall equinox?

Apparently, there is no such law, and many people willingly do eat this sandwich all year round. According to one Earl of Sandwich employee, this is one of the most popular sandwiches on the restaurant's menu. So, it should go without saying that your enjoyment of the Holiday Turkey Sandwich will probably correlate with how much joy you derive from the average Thanksgiving Day meal, and how freely you break with convention. 

The sandwich features a classic trifecta of Thanksgiving flavors: turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, compressed into a single unit. The Earl of Sandwich isn't the only sandwich chain out there offering a turkey-stuffing-cranberry sandwich. It does seem to be one of the few, though, that has added one crucial ingredient: gravy. Gravy, served in proximity to turkey, it turns out, is what makes something really taste like Thanksgiving. You would be forgiven if you suddenly got the urge to watch college football, or the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, while eating this sandwich. The only thing missing are the mashed potatoes and some pumpkin pie. 

The sandwich is built on your choice of white or wheat bread, the bread toasted to give it a nice crunchy, crackly texture. The turkey, cornbread stuffing, and cranberry sauce are dressed with just the lightest touch of mayonnaise. The sandwich might possibly be improved by using freshly roasted turkey rather than the deli kind, but it's juicy enough the way it is. 

The stuffing is moist and vaguely herb-scented, the cranberry tart and nearly sweet as jam, and some turkey gravy is the crowning touch. The gravy binds everything together, gives it some savory depth, and keeps the sandwich from getting too dry. The results are a sandwich that's a little messy to eat, not exactly pretty to look at, but all-around pretty delicious. 

So, go ahead and enjoy the flavors of Thanksgiving any time of the year. Just don't expect us to drink Pumpkin Spice lattes year-round, too. 

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Patricia Escárcega was Phoenix New Times' food critic.

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