I’m going to be honest here. Our loyal readers might’ve noticed a dearth of Thanksgiving posts around the same time last year. And you’ll notice a similar lack of such posts this year, at least from me. While Matthew might have his own reasons, I’ll come clean about mine:
Try as I might, I have a hard time getting excited about roasted turkey. I’m well aware that it appears downright un-American. But the more I eat in this world, and the less time I have to cook, the more I realize we’re fighting an uphill battle with this dang bird, symbolic as it might be.
Just last week I ate quail with more flavor and better texture than most of the roasted turkeys I’ve eaten in my day. And I’ve eaten them brined, slow roasted, deep-fried, and any number of other supposedly revolutionary ways. And not one of those birds has approached the unctiousness of the turkey osso bucco I ate at Del Posto’s enotecca last year. It was turkey leg that had been treated as any osso bucco: browned and braised. I imagine it was the usual braising technique (sear the meat, sautee some aromatic vegetables, slow cook the meat in a winey broth until fork tender etc etc; there was a tomato component to the Del Posto version if I recall correctly) and I intend to try it myself if I can ever get my family to agree to the experiment (while the Garvey family tends to be a hyper-mobile culinary unit throughout the year, experimenting with various preparations on the fly and at whim, the holidays tend to complicate things. You know: divergent preferences, multiple palates, tradition. That sort of thing.)
So, while I might not actually get around to braising a turkey leg this Thanksgiving, I will dream of the Del Posto Turkey Osso Bucco, along with other components of a fantasy Thanksgiving feast. In this dream feast, I would round out the turkey osso bucco with other, seasonally appropriate dishes: like the butternut squash-stuffed mezza luna pasta at Osteria Mozza, sauced with brown butter and sage. And maybe a dozen oysters, as they’re in season, in lieu of stuffing (and if I have to have a fantasy stuffing I will have oyster stuffing, which I’ve never had in my life). And if there need be potatoes, they’d need to be Tom Colicchio’s super creamy whipped potatoes that are just about half cream and butter (you need a ricer to do this right). And instead of any cranberry side dish, I’d have a cranberry sidecar cocktail, made with fresh cranberries, macerated with sugar and spices, a la homemade maraschino cherries. And for dessert, I’d have the one dish on the thanksgiving table I have unmediated love for: pumpkin pie. Except, maybe with a bit of bourbon it. Or at least in the whipped cream. So one of these days, before my kids accumulate decades of memories of stringy turkey, or hammy briney turkey, or some other let’s-pretend-that-turkey-is-a-great-ingredient turkey, I’ll cook a feast that lives up to the spirit of this holiday that is indeed great, but too often tastes anything but.