Turkey Day Bacchanal
Tired of the same old Thanksgiving meal? The man who reinvented catering and cookbooks, Christopher Idone, custom-designs the ultimate feast, from briny oysters to artisinal cheeses.
My Thanksgiving, like most family feasts, is based on tradition—there was always stuffing, my mother always made cranberry sauce, and the variations on the themes are my own. I buy a farm-raised free-range turkey that I usually brine before roasting. I want it big enough to feed the number of guests I have with just enough left over for a few roasted turkey sandwiches with cold dressing, cranberry sauce and mayonnaise to slather on the bread. I don’t want a carcass hanging around for any other purpose than making stock. I don’t want a bird stuck in the fridge begging me to make leftovers like turkey hash, curried turkey, turkey tetrazzini, or turkey mole. The sandwich is a nice memory of the meal and that does me fine.
The cheese course has become an integral part of the meal, and—for me at least—it’s a relaxing way to enjoy the wine and slowing down the overall indulgence of this force-feed.
In my Thanksgiving menu from Glorious American Food I suggest a vegetable soup such as pumpkin or mushroom. Sometimes I substitute the soup with freshly shucked oysters. This habit started with spending many Thanksgivings by the Atlantic where bays offer up these bivalves and it’s a wonderful intro to the meal that doesn’t fill the belly!
To accompany the bird, rich creamy and buttery mashed potatoes are a must. I serve creamed pearl onions—yes—with a few thawed frozen peas tossed in as well. Another vegetable I enjoy with this meal are brussel sprouts (no recipe) and those I toss with a little olive oil, chunks of carrots and turnips, roasted in a hot oven until tender and golden and served with a sprinkling of chopped dill. Some parsley-buttered turnips are also nice.
I love the sweet-tart taste of fresh cranberries, and the combination with kumquat is the perfect pitch. But there are always those who consider a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce an integral part of the dinner, so I serve it after a few complaints.
Since the feast is uniquely American, all the wines should follow suit. There is much to choose from. The most important thing is to have enough whites and reds for those who do not like to mix.
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The cheese course has become an integral part of the meal, and—for me at least—it’s a relaxing way to enjoy the wine and slowing down the overall indulgence of this force-feed. There are so many excellent cheeses to choose from; among my favorites are the creamy Atlantic Mist from Mecox Bay Dairy in Bridgehampton, NY and Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, California are my suggestions.
The table is laden with Muscat grapes, Clementine’s, nuts and a couple of nut crackers, so the feast phases away in a sated haze. My last contribution and tradition is serving a good bottle of port—not American at all! By now you and your guests have enough dopamine in your system to fall asleep. So curl up in front of a fire and clean up later.
In 1970 Christopher Idone changed the culinary world forever when he founded Glorious Food, a New York-based catering firm with a brand new take on style and taste. His first best-selling book, Glorious Food , launched the wave of lush, large-format cookbooks that would be the future standard for cookbooks.