Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me: Turkey Devonshire

Every year, I get a birthday brunch (Sunday brunch at a Big Burrito restaurant), a birthday dinner (restaurant of my choice), and a birthday meal at home (SP cooks whatever I want). I know, I am spoiled. Usually for my home cooked meal I choose macaroni & cheese with breaded chicken and a vegetable. Sometimes lasagna. But this year, I demanded something that in our 5+ years together we have never made but that I had made for myself before we met: Turkey Devonshire.
There was resistance. I could see the horror on SP's face. White toast. Bacon. Cheese sauce. Butter. Grated parmesan. He knew he had promised me whatever I wanted and I wanted Turkey Devonshire, and yet... I knew he wasn't happy. He kept mumbling, not in a good way, that this turkey devonshire thing must be some crazy Pittsburgh thing, he'd never heard of it, never had it, blah, blah.

He's right. It is some crazy Pittsburgh thing. Supposedly, it was in 1935 at the Stratford Club that Mr. Blandi invented the Devonshire. Because the Stratford Club sounded English and Devonshire Street intersected Centre Avenue in Oakland, and that also sounded English, Mr. Blandi, who was looking for an English-sounding name for his new sandwich, decided to call it Devonshire. Mr. Blandi also started the Pittsburgh Playhouse, the Park Schenley, and LeMont. 

The Devonshire is very similar to the Hot Brown sandwich created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY.

Anyway, normally, I'd have changed my mind, because I love SP, but, I really, really wanted turkey devonshire. So I added a side of steamed broccoli to the menu. He was somewhat appeased.
So last Sunday we buttered a casserole dish, placed a slice of toasted Cellone's Italian bread in it, topped it with slices of the turkey cutlets we roasted, then added bacon and sliced tomatoes, ladled cheese sauce over it, sprinkled the top with parmesan and paprika, baked until bubbly hot, and enjoyed. Well, I enjoyed. I think SP ate it under protest.
So yummy! Notice that I didn't include any photos of the broccoli!!

To be fair, on the non-turkey devonshire days this week, we ate vegetable soup, loaded with celery, carrots, green beans, peas, onions, tomatoes, and barley. So I figure it evens out.

So tonight, on my actual birthday, we will be having the third and final turkey devonshire meal of the week, and I will mop up every last bit of glorious cheese sauce. Then I will brew a large mug of my current favorite tea (Clementine Clove) and eat the last piece of Bethel Bakery birthday cake (which we have been enjoying since last Saturday - chocolate cake with cherry filling and that delicious buttercream icing) while snuggling with SP on the couch and watching our usual Thursday night TV shows. Sounds like a lovely birthday evening to me.

Here's the recipe I use for turkey devonshire, clipped out of a long ago issue of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Frank Blandi's Original Devonshire Sandwich

3/4 stick butter, melted
1 cup flour
1/4 pound Cheddar cheese, grated
1 pint chicken broth
1 pint hot milk
1 teaspoon salt

Cream Sauce:

Melt butter in deep pan and add flour, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and then hot milk, stirring all the while. Add cheese and salt. Bring to boil and then cook slowly for 20 minutes, still stirring. Cool to lukewarm. Beat with wire whip until smooth before using. This makes enough sauce for 6 Devonshire sandwiches.

For each sandwich:

1 slice toast, crusts trimmed off
3 slices crisp bacon
5 thin slices cooked turkey breast
Cream Sauce, recipe above
Melted butter 
Parmesan cheese and paprika

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In each flat, individual oven-proof casserole dish, place 1 slice of toast and top with 3 slices bacon. Add 5 thin slices of cooked turkey breast. Cover completely with cream sauce. Sprinkle with a little melted butter, then with the combined Parmesan cheese and paprika. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

**I always add tomato slices

1 comment:

  1. I seem to recall that the original version at the Park Schenley had a touch of wine in the cheese sauce, and the cheese sauce flavor was delicate, perhaps a combination of Swiss and cheddar, and maybe another. The bacon and turkey were in small pieces, easy to eat with a fork.
    I'm looking for that original recipe.
    The Park Schenley was in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh, only a few blocks from Devonshire Street. Frank Blandi couldn't see Devonshire Street from Mt. Washington.