Ignacio Mattos' Turkey Sandwich

Ignacio Mattos builds a better turkey sandwich

"If you're hungry you'll be able to pull off a good sandwich."

This is the promise of Ignacio Mattos. 

The chef at New York's Estela restaurant is a laconic genius of improvisational invention. Naturally we turned to him to solve the eternal post-Thanksgiving question of what to do with the leftovers.

The challenge: Take some old turkey and turn it into an inspired sandwich (see the recipe) to nourish us the next day and banish the holiday blahs.

In addition to hunger, you need "a good piece of bread," Mattos advises. After Thanksgiving, he's not in the mood for a lot of sweet stuff. "My idea is to keep it a little more savory and try to think 'breakfast.'"

Mattos' spread: bialys, spigarello and, of course, turkey

Mattos starts with a bialy, smears it with some crème fraîche, and then looks around the kitchen for something interesting to repurpose. He's making spigarello, a peppery broccoli variety, tossed with melted lardo tonight. That'll do just fine. (If you don't happen to have either spigarello or cured pork fat on hand, use kale and pancetta–or even bacon.) The idea is to layer flavors: The tartness of the crème fraîche is balanced with the sweet earthiness of the greens and savoriness of the pork.

Mattos pulling apart the turkey | Plate of spigarello

He piles on seared turkey, and then tops his well-balanced hoagie with freshly grated horseradish. The result is surprising–tart and peppery in every bite.

Mattos was born in Uruguay, but he instinctively grasped the spirit of the holiday.

"I can relate to it," Mattos says. "You sit down at the table and you just hang around. We pretty much do Thanksgiving every Sunday back home."