This year marks my 54th Thanksgiving with family. I just know it will be a grand feast.
Ahhhh … the life of a chef. Everyone likes to ask me what I am eating on Thanksgiving and comment to me that they can just imagine how many different courses I will be preparing and serving, especially Italian dishes.
My answer is very simple each year, traditional American fare. And even better, I do not cook one single course. Seriously!
I do get to help with the shopping because Lisa knows how much I enjoy picking out the turkey, fresh oysters and the yams. She has an “in” with the local butcher and he saves her turkey necks, wings, giblets and legs for her “two day” gravy.
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I may brush a little bit of butter on the rolls before they go in the oven and I do my traditional taste testing before everything is served on the table but really, that’s all.
I’m very fortunate because my wife makes me take this day off. She and my daughter Alexandra do all the work.
Our menu includes a butter roasted turkey, of course, along with Lisa’s signature New England oyster & sage dressing, a 19th-century sweet potato recipe, oysters au gratin to kill for, butter-laden mashed potatoes, green bean & mushroom casserole and some of the best homemade noodles you’ll ever experience along with a Five Cup Salad and a lime Jell-O with cottage cheese and pecans.
To finish the feast, a homemade pumpkin pie and an old fashioned pecan pie with freshly whipped cream. All so delicious!
Something is missing you ask? The traditional cranberries perhaps? Yes my friends, and I get that right out of the can for “mio famiglia”. Jellied cranberries.
I know, I know, I can probably prepare some of the best cranberry relish you’ve ever tasted. I have a recipe that I used to make for my father with orange rind and liqueur but nothing spells Thanksgiving like a jellied cranberry sauce right out of the can.
From cranberry bog to table, I like to say. Oh, that form, the tart flavor bursting with cranberries, the jelly consistency served on a beautiful piece of our family’s china. I know a lot of people have spent a lot of time preparing this in a factory just for my family’s and millions of others’ holiday tables. I’m getting excited just writing about it.
So when you all sit down to the Thanksgiving table and somebody says, “Please pass the cranberries,” think of me this year and when I get to cut that first slice off the jellied cranberry mold. Life is so good, and I like I always say, I am one lucky chef
I’m thankful for many things this Thanksgiving, especially my family, friends and customers. I’m thankful to many people who are concerned about what I’m going to eat and for the people who prepare the feast for me.
I am also thankful for the jellied cranberry sauce out of the can. And by the way, I do get to open the can and carefully place it on the our fine china platter. So I guess I do get to prepare something. The highlight of my dinner indeed!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s runs his family’s 62-year-old restaurant with his brother. Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He is host to many famous chefs on his weekly radio show “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM. He also sells dressings and sauces.