Here in southeast Texas, we don’t really get a ceremonial changing of seasons to signal that fall is (according to the calendar) here. We know by the crates full of pumpkins piled up outside the grocery stores, the first glorious bags of glorious grapefruit from the glorious Rio Grande Valley appear lined up next to them, and suburban front lawns are overtaken with a layer of pine needles and those gigantic inflatable Halloween decorations.
Who knew life felt incomplete without a 12-ft tall inflatable Halloween snow globe out front? (My neighbor puts up and decorates a “Halloween tree,” I think she earns bonus points for that out here. Probably more bonus points than I get for pushing that gigantic plastic car shopping cart at HEB.)
There are pretty much no other signs of fall at this point, certainly not the thermostat of my black interior/black exterior car that lives in a sunny driveway (which, by the way, could really use that interior detailing that comes with an oil change… in another 1047 miles) just two zip codes north of the Seventh Circle of Hell.
And while an endless supply of pumpkin and apple goodies (and grapefruit margaritas!) are great and glorious, next in line to start driving that “no really – fall is here!!” feeling home is the appearance of a particular sandwich at a local chain deli.
They call it a Turkey Cranwich. And for as excited as I get about seeing it back on the menu, it’s kind of a total mess of a sandwich. They always sloppily throw it together in that typical lopsided, assembly-line, lunch-rush fashion and put enough red onion on it (but always clumped together on one side of the sandwich) to cripple a vampire. (That’s a lesson you only have to learn once. [shudder])
But it oozes melty cheese and cream cheese (when they remember that I order it grilled, with cheese) and tangy cranberry chutney with every bite. It’s like having Thanksgiving leftovers in mid October, only without the 4 loads of after-dinner dirty dishes. And it makes me far happier than any sandwich not wrapped in money and Super Bowl tickets should.
To whip up the sandwich at home, I added brie, omitted the cream cheese and red onion, and slathered generous amounts of a quick & easy homemade cranberry-apricot chutney (a sort of mash-up of these two recipes). No lopsided, assembly-line, lunch rush mess here! And bonus – the homemade cranberry-apricot chutney doesn’t cost nearly as much as the tiny jar from that shiny, gourmet kitchen store.
And PS. It goes great served with a bottle of Riesling, just in case you were at a loss for what “vegetable” side to serve with your fancy sandwich
Turkey & Brie Cranwich
Homemade cranberry-apricot chutney is the star of this turkey and brie panini.
- For the cranberry apricot chutney:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 spicy red pepper, seeded and chopped (optional; I used a red serrano)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1 tsp worcestershire
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar (more if desired)
- Pinch of ground ginger
- 12 oz bag of cranberries
- 12-15 dried apricot rounds, chopped
- 1 cup water
- Pinch of salt
- For the sandwich:
- Sturdy bread
- Sliced turkey
- Slices of brie from a small wheel
- Cranberry-apricot chutney
- Handful of salad greens
- Olive oil
- To make the chutney, heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.
- Add onion and pepper (if using), and cook ~3 minutes, until the onions have softened.
- Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- Add the remaining chutney ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil, let cook covered for ~10 minutes until the cranberries have softened and then remove the lid and cook until nearly all of the liquid has cooked away, about another 10-15 minutes.
- Taste for sweetness and add another tablespoon or 2 of sugar, if you think it needs it (I was looking for just enough sweetness to take the edge off the cranberries).
- Let cool and then transfer to a jar or bowl and keep in the refrigerator (will last a good 2 weeks).
- To assemble the sandwiches, heat your panini maker or grill pan to high.
- Lightly brush the outside of the bread slices with olive oil and the inside with a generous smear of chutney.
- Pile turkey, brie, and salad greens on top and grill until golden brown.
Yields: ~2 cups of chutney
Estimated time: 30 minutes