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My taste test of Christmas sandwiches

Christmas turkey sandwich

When I get asked what my favourite food is, my instinctive answer is ‘sandwiches’. My favourite time of the year? Christmas. And for one happy month, these two glorious institutions collide to create ‘The Christmas Sandwich’.

I absolutely love a Christmas sandwich – a trait that didn’t go unnoticed in the Which? office last year when, every day, colleagues would ask me for a gastronomic low-down on my lunch. Now, in 2015, it’s gone to a new level.

My Christmas sandwich taste test*

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise, given Which?’s product testing reputation, that this year my colleagues have asked me to rate the Christmas sandwiches available in our local area.

First, I need to be clear about what constitutes a Christmas sandwich. This is controversial in itself, but for me it must contain three key ingredients: turkey, stuffing, and cranberry jelly. I’m fine with people adding other ingredients, except cheese, ever. Ham, bacon, mayo, even green leaves all appear in different versions – but if it doesn’t contain the 3 key main elements, it’s not on my list.

The prize turkey

Let’s start with the most disappointing effort. Bottom of my table by some distance is Sainsbury’s Turkey Feast. I didn’t like it last year, and I don’t think there’s been any improvement in 2015. A sandwich the Grinch would be proud of.

Next up, perhaps surprisingly, is a poor showing from M&S, mainly due to a gritty stuffing that wouldn’t have been out of place on Scrooge’s menu. WH Smith, a new entrant on my tasting list this year, was equally forgettable, but that could well be down to the fact that I wolfed it down late one night on the train home.

Then, among the decidedly delicious showings are, in escalating order of tastiness, sandwiches from Boots, the Co-op, and Tesco. The latter defied all expectations, so much so that I admit I’ve been back on more than one occasion.

What about the independent cafe?

I should pause here to say that I’ve not forgotten about our local sandwich shop. Handmade fresh to order, in a giant ciabatta, this was a Christmas sandwich worthy of a slot on Man v Food. Four rashers of bacon! Three stuffing balls! And more meat than your average roast dinner. Sadly, food won – it was the only festive sandwich I couldn’t finish, and to be brutally honest, it wasn’t really very nice.

Love actually

So who gets top spot? Last year, EAT raised the bar with a humdinger of a Festive Full Works bloomer. I’ve loved it again this year, but to my surprise, given how much I dislike their effort last year, the 2015 crown goes to Pret’s impressive Christmas Lunch, with its crispy onion and crunchy stuffing just tipping the balance in its favour.

I’m not sure I’ll be getting any offers to judge the next series of Masterchef, but in the meantime I’d be interested to know what foods you most look forward to at this time of year – and who makes the best.

Merry Christmas!

*This is not an official Which? taste test.

Useful links

See the best mince pies for Christmas.

Comments

Stop the supermarket sandwich rip-off!

All of the main high street supermarkets are short filling their sandwiches, even Waitrose Heston Blumenthal premium range.

On the shelf the sandwiches look as though they are filled nicely, but when you open the package and look inside the sandwich 80% of the contents if limited to the centre of the bread and thus the cut line.

I raised an online complain with Sainsbury’s in relation to one of their ‘Taste the Difference’ premium sandwich, but they never even acknowledge my submission.

The last time Which? reviewed the rip-off sandwich fillings was 2009 – I ask if you could run a new one as soon as possible! Thx Stan

The filling technique may be to help keep the contents from dropping out of the sandwich rather than short-changing the customer. Mayonnaise is also used to help retain the filling. The alternative to rip-off sandwiches is to make them yourself.

Just had my first Pret Christmas sandwich of the season and I not disappointed!

I make my own sandwiches these days. Maybe they are not very sophisticated but at least I know they are free from mayo.

To be sung to the melody of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane
Sing along

Have yourself a merry little Sandwich,
Let the meat be light,
From now on,
The mayo will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Sandwich,
Just don’t add the cheese,
Don’t know why but,
Richard’s pleading on his knees…

Here we are trying Sainsb’ry’s feast,
Gritty M&S are poor,
Moving on we try Smiths and Son,
Then we see the star, the store

Through the tears,
Of trying all the sarnies,
Pret’s appears once more,
Onions, crunchy stuffing – balance tipped and how!
So have yourself A merry Christmas Sandwich now.

Thanks Ian. Maybe this is the first Convo to have a summary.

Well, our inside lighting is done, now, so I’ve started the outside lighting. If the rain keeps off for at least 48 hours I could get that finished before the weekend.

Do like this time of year.

This topic seems to be the least visited of any I can remember. Shame, too; makes you feel hungry just reading it.

A bit early for Christmas. I think the week before is soon enough. Are Easter Eggs in the shops yet?

It’s never too early for Christmas, Ebenezer.

I’m waiting for a Convo on Christmas Puddings, though revival of Oscar’s one from last year would do because it was hardly touched.

It’s about time to make Christmas puddings.

Sunday 1 December 2019 is Stir-up Sunday when the making of the Christmas pudding should commence. It is a convention of the Anglican church taken from the opening lines of the Collect for the day “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”. It might also be the solicitors’ prayer.

It is the last Sunday before the season of Advent and used also to mark the beginning of the commercial Christmas when shops and milkmen would start redeeming people’s Christmas club coupons. Now it’s all hail Black Friday [29 November this year] – which might better be labelled Golden Friday – which originated in America in connection with Thanksgiving and was unknown in this country until a few years ago. The heavy Christmas marketing now starts as soon as the last firework has exploded. I’m already fed up with seeing those soppy corporate commercials on television; there was only ever one really good one and that was for the late-lamented Woolworth’s.

I look forward to traditional Christmas puddings because they give me access to cash.

I don’t make Christmas pudding religiously, so any day will do for me. The first step has been to check that the pressure cooker is in working condition. I did have doubts about the condition of the seal but it will do the job. It is good to know that the inclusion of coins in Christmas pud is still permitted: http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/xmasmyths/christmas-puddings.htm

Still got the small Xmas pud I bought for hubbie last year. It is use by March 2020 so should still be edible.

I no longer eat Xmas pud or mince pies as not only are they too sweet for me, I only used to like them drowned in clotted or double cream which I can no longer eat.

M&S choccies on the other hand …..😋 ….. are only small, can be savoured one at a time and my tum can handle that.

Christmas pud freezes very well. I prefer lighter versions and although I love nuts, they seem out of place here. I would not one that was too sweet. Christmas meals are not far off but choosing Christmas pud when eating out is always a gamble.

I wonder if Richard P is watching his topic?