Enough is as Good as a Feast


Post-Thanksgiving in the Giobbi house is a groaning affair: From a groaning table to a groaning tummy. Edward cooked a meal for 12 by himself, despite the weather. It was snowing in Westchester County. The snow was thick and white, the tree trunks dark and wet, the red berries on the winterberry bushes clustered in bright ferocity. There are no dogs at the house anymore, they’re all dead dead dead. Just old groaning willow trees half digested by chicken polypores, and lonely mallards stopping off at the pond before heading to a golf course somewhere in the Carolinas. I love November in New York. It’s such a drama queen.

For the antipasto, plates of prosciutto, salami, and cheeses (including the incredible pecorino with truffles that we get at Teitel Brothers on Arthur Avenue), a spread made from ricotta mixed with Italian tuna and garnished with chopped parsley, and fried whitebait. (Oh shit, I have the leftover whitebait in the fridge. I was going to fold them into an omelet. Totally forgot about that little treasure.) We drank champagne and Edward opened a 40-year-old homemade wine that we encouraged him not to serve even though he kept drinking the brown, bad sherry-tasting stuff saying, “I think it’s pretty good.”

For our pasta course, Edward made lasagna with ricotta and Swiss chard (which he said is more authentically Florentine than using spinach), followed by a beautiful roast capon, roasted potatoes, braised carrots and celery, and a sauce made from honey mushrooms that Edward found growing in the driveway.

For desert we had a cherry galette (actually, two cherry galettes) that I made with a mixture of my home canned sour cherries and (almost totally) pitted Bings. Here’s the method. Drain about a quart of cherries or the galettes will be too wet. Save the juice—it makes a wonderful cordial called Cherry Bounce with rum and brandy (the recipe is in The Kitchen Ecosystem, but you can figure it out). Combine the cherries with about 2 tablespoons of flour and sugar to taste. Make the pie crust—I make a rather robust one with 2 egg yolks, 6 tablespoons cold butter, 1 ½ cups flour and ½ cup confectioner’s sugar. Roll out the crust in a round about 12 inches in diameter. I usually do this on a piece of parchment paper or a silpat. In a food processor grind up about 1 cup of blanched almonds, sugar to taste, and a teaspoon or so of vanilla powder. This is great stuff for just this kind of use, but totally optional. Spread the nuts in the middle of the dough leaving about 4 inches of dough free around the margins. Pour the cherries on top. Cut a couple of tablespoons of butter on top of the cherries, and then fold the dough around the top of the galette. Brush water all over the dough and sprinkle with sugar. Place the galette on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve with whipped cream, if you like.

We all fought over the carcass. Edward won.

A day or two later Edward told me his stomach was a little off, so he made himself a baked potato dressed with a dribble of good olive oil with a poached egg on top. Despite this whole fabulous Thanksgiving holiday, I can’t help but feel like that baked potato and egg was probably as delicious as any of our more elaborate dishes. But it’s like Marry Poppins said: “Enough is as good as a feast.”

8 Comments on “Enough is as Good as a Feast

  1. EB sounds like a good time was had by all. Especially like the post T/Giving potato idea as that may be a dinner this week. Meanwhile, I think you stumped Google, can’t find spearling? Might that be another term for smelt?
    For what it is worth here is what I prepared for nine:

    Lardo-rosemary pesto
    Pickled root vegetable salad
    Fresh & smoked salmon rillettes
    Cucumber & pickled garlic relish
    Ceci bean mousse
    Carrot-ginger vinaigrette
    Buttered toasts

    Macaroni-Creste DiGallo
    Ragout of mixed wild & cultivated mushrooms,
    turkey meatballs, aged pecorino, Calabrian chili oil

    Ragout of turkey wings, fresh & smoked
    Roasted turkey breast roulade
    Savory bread pudding stuffing
    Pan gravy

    Winter root vegetable ratatouille
    Spinach & sweet onion tart

    Quattro Condimenti
    Green tomato & lemon marmaletta
    Roasted tomato-apple chutney
    Green tomato mostarda
    Apple-raisin mostarda

    Pan dolce de calabaza
    Torta all’olio di oliva
    Maple bourbon ice cream
    Mocha ice cream


  2. What a wonderful meal, and I love you beautiful description. I hope Edward is better. It sounds like that potato was jut the thing to set him right. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. How about some Christmas cookies? Let the baking begin!

  3. Wow Dante. Wow. Which dishes worked out best? I LOVE the smoked and fresh turkey wing ragu. Details?
    Sorry about the spearling mistake. Sperling is the word, though for some reason I seem to be the only person using it (I think that might be the English term, but I forget). Anyway, it’s whitebait, and I’ve changed the post to reflect that.

    • Hello Eugenia,
      Well I’m grateful for your feedback and request for more info regarding my T/Giving menu. I would be happy to share some perspective with you about the meal.
      Like most T/Giving meals, they turn out to be extended affairs at the table and generally a little over filling, however right along side of the Christmas Eve fest, T/Giving dinner is one of my favorite meals to develop and prepare.
      From my perspective the fresh & smoked salmon rillettes would be my first choice from the antipasti course.
      Pasta, who doesn’t like pasta, and this years offering was no exception. I adapted the sauce from a wild and cultivated mushroom stew I developed some time back and simply re-purposed it to sauce the pasta. This variation contained nine different mushrooms which is the fun part since the stew or sauce is never exactly the same twice due to whatever mushrooms are available at the time. I punctuated the sauce with some puree of black truffle which added extra depth. The pasta shape was very cool, as it reminded me of a helmet the Roman legions might have worn. It was an extruded pasta, shaped like a curved pene with a curly top edge which resembled a horse head and mane, thus the Roman helmet!
      I couldn’t make up my mind which turkey entree I liked best, so I ate a little of each. Generally I prepare a large savory bread pudding, using all the bread trimmings I freeze throughout the year, however this year I made up a smaller batch and simply stuffed the roulade with that.
      The turkey ragout I generally make in the fall and winter as the big one pot meal. This was a good batch, the recipe of same I will share with you at the end of my comments.
      The winter root vegetable ratatouille is an adaptation of the great summer dish so popular in the Southwest of France, however none of the ingredients are the same. Kind of a play on words, but what a great side. I will make it again at some point, but takes a few hours to do all the vegetable prep, although the stock made from all the trimmings is worth the effort.
      The condiment quartet was fun as I enjoy working with chutneys, mostardos, savory marmalades, and pickled vegetables, pairing them with different main dishes.
      The pan dolce de calabaza was my adaptation of a Cuban pumpkin bread recipe, substituting kabocha squash instead and serving this with a dollop of my maple-burbon ice cream to replace the pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheese cake.
      So that was the long answer to what I liked most and what turned out best. And, I don’t have to tell you the left-overs were great as they generally are after the T/Giving feast.
      Now for the ragout:
      I adapted and evolved this recipe many years ago, taking the initial dish entitled Liberian Collard Greens , from The Black Family Dinner Quilt Cookbook, a copyright by The National Council Of Negro Women, Inc. I’ve prepared this recipe so many times over the years, substituting water for stock, introducing other greens aside from collard, improving upon my cooking skills and techniques, and most recently starting from a very flavorful soffritto base, that I can now call this variation my own which I named; Liberian Greens: A Winter Stew.
      2–3 large garlic cloves peeled and minced
      2 large onions, minced
      1 large carrot minced
      Stalks from 1 fennel bulb, minced (including fronds)
      1–2 large stalks celery, minced
      Several parsley, leaves + stems, minced

      4 lbs greens: escarole, kale, chard, mustard, beet, cress, arugula, spinach or a mix. Clean, stem, rough chop.

      1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored, and trimmed into 1/4 inch dice.

      2 turkey wings, cut in three pieces.
      2 smoked turkey wings, or thighs, or necks, cut in pieces.

      8 cups of stock or water
      1/4 cup white wine vinegar
      1–2 15oz cans chick peas drained

      S & P & hot crushed pepper to taste

      In a large stock pot wide enough to hold all the ingredients, heat either olive oil or duck fat over medium to high heat.
      Add the first 6 ingredients to start the soffritto, mixing to combine and saute so they begin to soften and color. Stir often, careful not to burn.

      Next add the chopped greens and the diced bell pepper, again mix to combine and coat with the oil. Season with S&P. Stir until the greens begin to wilt.

      Next add the liquids and bring to a boil.

      Add the poultry, arranging around the stock pot and submerged into the liquid.

      Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and braise for 2-1/2 hours, periodically checking the level of the liquid and adding more as needed.

      At the end of the cooking time, check the greens for texture, the turkey for tenderness, the level of the broth, and the seasoning.

      Finally add the chick peas and any crushed hot pepper to taste if using. At this point the stew should be done. However, as with most stews, soups and braises, they are better served the second day, so my recommendation is once the pot has cooled, refrigerate until day 2. At that time, if there is a lot of fat accumulation on the surface, skim that off before gently reheating the pot.

      Serve this robust one-pot meal with rice, soft polenta or farro, small pasta such as ditalini or fregola, or simply float some toasted bread in the bowl. You should find this to be a comforting and nourishing dish. Hope you give it a try, and I’m certain that if you (and Ed) do, you will add your own spin to the dish, which I would enjoy hearing about.


        • Great Eugenia. I would welcome your comments and feedback, as I am certain would add to the continued improvement of the dish. Meanwhile, happy new year.

  4. after a huge New Year’s Day party and all the leftovers, I came to the same conclusion: baked potato with a poached egg. Although, since I’m lazy and find poaching tricky, a runny yolked over-easy egg! I have a dozen country eggs in the fridge (although what free range means, when the range is covered with snow and ice, is a mystery), and the blizzard is immanent, so maybe I’ll make oeufs en meurette. Burgundian comfort food! best wishes, Susan

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