Cheesy and delicious: a DI staffer cooked and reviewed hot turkey sandwich from Bushnell’s Turtle cookbook

After hearing of a popular Iowa City restaurant named after her ancestor’s invention, a DI Arts Reporter sets out to cook and review three original recipes from the restaurant’s cookbook. For her first recipe, she makes and reviews the hot turkey sandwich with broccoli cheese sauce.


Wyatt Dlouhy

The Daily Iowan Arts reporter Addie Bushnell cooks a cheese sauce for the “Hot Turkey Sandwich” recipe from The Original Recipes of Bushnell’s Turtle.

Addie Bushnell, Arts Reporter

Recently, I discovered a beloved Iowa City restaurant called Bushnell’s Turtle. From 1976-1994, Bushnell’s graced the downtown area with its delicious deli food. The restaurant was named after a Revolutionary War submarine invented by my ancestor, David Bushnell. Because of this connection, and because I hoped to honor the legacy of the late owner, Ed Zastrow, I decided to cook and review three recipes from the The Original Recipes of the Bushnell’s Turtle.

I wanted to make both an entree and a dessert from the cookbook. Since Bushnell’s Turtle was a submarine sandwich shop, I decided to start with one of their famous sandwiches. I gathered inspiration from Kara Logsden, an avid customer of Bushnell’s during her childhood. She said she remembers the restaurant as a place of community, and often visited with her mother.

“My mother loved the sandwiches,” Logsden recalled, while directing me towards her and her mother’s favorite sandwich recipe: the hot turkey sandwich with broccoli cheese sauce.

I thought this recipe perfectly represented what Bushnell’s Turtle is all about — warm, tasty, comfort food.

Making the sandwich was fairly simple, though the cheese sauce was the only time-consuming part of the process. I mixed milk, American cheese, dry mustard, paprika, and a splash of both hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce into a saucepan, stirring until the cheese was fully melted. Then, I added chopped broccoli, and let the sauce sit on a simmer while I whipped up a roux in another pan. Next, I mixed the roux with the cheese sauce using a whisk.

Despite my inexperience with making a roux, the cheese sauce came out really well — it smelled delicious and was the perfect consistency: creamy, but not overly thick.

RELATED: Exploring the legacy of Bushnell’s Turtle, a beloved Iowa City restaurant that pays homage to the first combat submarine

I placed a warm slice of turkey on a buttered, toasted hamburger bun along with a slice of tomato, then drizzled the broccoli cheese sauce over the top of it with a spoon.

The broccoli cheese sauce was the perfect addition to a simple turkey sandwich. I could absolutely see why Logsden recommended the recipe. Adding the sauce, the recipe was provided a unique twist and gave me campfire vibes — think of it as the adult version of a Sloppy Joe.

Obviously, the sauce was the star of this recipe, but I also appreciated the taste of tomato I got in each bite — it added a refreshing coolness against the richness and warmth of the cheese, turkey, and bread.

The recipe calls for the sandwich to be made with an English muffin, but since I don’t care for English muffins when I’m not eating breakfast food, I decided to use toasted hamburger buns. However, I think this sandwich would taste even better on a thick sandwich bread (rye or sourdough, to add a bit of flavor), or ciabatta bread.

I used smoked turkey for this recipe, but golden roasted turkey or honey turkey would be just as delicious. For those who don’t love turkey, ham could work well in this sandwich too.

Overall, I thought this recipe was the perfect way to introduce myself to the wonderful world of the Bushnell’s Turtle menu. It was simple, down-home comfort food, and the ultimate winter sandwich: hot, carb-filled, and satisfying.