The Thanksgiving Meal: To Tweak or Not To Tweak

Getting back to the cultural overlap, I knew the Italians would have my back, especially when it comes to one of my major gripes with the holiday: the meal.is.too.damn.short. That is, we need to do something more than quickly gorge and disperse.

“No, no, the meal goes for hours,” Francesca DiRenzo-Kauffman says. She’s the GM at Tre Scalini where her mother Franca DiRenzo presides over the kitchen. Her mother also handles the family’s Thanksgiving meal, minus the homemade pumpkin pie, biscotti, and pizza dolce that relatives bring.

There are seafood appetizers (baked clams with pancetta and bread crumbs; shrimp cocktail with salsa rosa) and antipasti for starters.

Then it’s on to the soups (scarola soup: tiny meatballs in chicken broth; wild mushroom with truffle oil), before moving onto the pasta course, which can be either lasagna or timballo.

From there, it’s onto the main event: two—yes, two—15lb organic turkeys, one given a frittata stuffing, while the other gets stuffed with turkey giblets. The table gets filled with homemade apple sauce (apples and quinze cooked down in white wine with lemon zest and cinnamon); cranberry sauce with oranges and Grand Marnier; a sage and thyme wild mushroom stuffing; and trimmings that consist of broccoli rabe, corn, and sweet potatoes among other things. To help with digestion and reawaken the palate, a fennel crudité with evoo and sea salt follows, along with fresh fruit, fireside roasted chestnuts, and dried figs filled with walnuts.

But before dessert and all throughout, they’re hardly just plopped down before the tv. “We’re a very musical family. My daughter plays the violin. People are at the piano. It’s very active,” she says, with interactions—there’s also Italian cards (scopa) and bingo (tombola)—triggered by their inability to see family often due to the demands of running a busy restaurant.

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