How to Survive an Italian Thanksgiving: Turkey as a Side-Dish
First, I must credit Angela Costanzi for the title of this entry. In college, she wrote an essay with this title all about how her mom, aunt and grandma would make stunning bounties of food every year that would make even the traditional Thanksgiving binge-fest look meager.
So, we’re having Thanksgiving at our house this year. This is the second time I’ll host one. The first was a complete disaster. That was the year I lived in Barcelona and had no Aunt Corinne, no Cousin Bill to host the thing as they always have, so I winged it. With an Irish boyfriend and his English boss as guests, I was the only one who really knew what to expect, but I think the rawness of the turkey and the chewy quality of the re-heated mashed potatoes may have tipped them off that something was wrong. Well that was 1991. I have developed a lot of experience since then, I can even call myself a full-fledged foodie. So I think this time it’ll go better.
Here’s what’s on the menu:
- APPETIZERS “antipasti”: 1.) Prosciutto with persimmons. 2.)Whole endive leaves topped with a dollop of "sweet" gorgonzola and a walnut half.
- STARTER "primo": Susan's elegant Thanksgiving wild rice soup
- MAIN DISH “secondo”: double butterflied turkey breast rolled with a porcini, cremini, pancetta stuffing and (since mine’s skinless) wrapped with thin strips of pancetta.
- SIDES “contorni”: 1.) mashed potatoes with butter and chives and 2.) sauteed fennel.
- CRANBERRY SAUCE ALTERNATIVES: 1.) tamarind chutney, 2.) pear chutney and 3.) dried cranberry chutney.
- DESSERT “dolce”: a zingy, ginger-laced, candied orange zest-strewn pumpkin pie.
Tune in this week as we count down to Thanksgiving. I'll give you the recipes for all the dishes you see above and show you what you can prepare ahead of time so you can actually spend the holiday with your guests and not slaving over the stove.
We’re having an all-Italian set of guests for this one which I think is kind of cool. They won't know what to expect any more than my guests in Barcelona did, and I'm hoping to win them over to thinking "American" food is a good thing. Opinions of "American" cuisine on this side of the Atlantic tend toward the negative, to say the least.