|Every family has its own traditions around the holidays. Some folks open presents on Christmas Eve, some fly off to the capitals of Europe for the duration, yet others have restaurant wait staffs serve them their turkey and stuffing. Everybody is different in that respect, and that's okay. Where I come from chili was always the de facto meal the night before Christmas or Thanksgiving, |
"I wish I had a real recipe to offer but I essentially just throw things in a pot and the ingredients are the usual suspects that go in everyone's sauce." ~ Mama Jean
|Don't let that modesty fool you, Jean is a serious cook, and like all masters she has an intuitive feel for what works. It may have been Aunt Janie's house, but it was Mama Jean's kitchen. And if we were gonna have Italian the night before Thanksgiving, well it was gonna be done right, damn it.|
|Thanksgiving Eve Menu|
|Mama Jean's Meatballs and Tomato Sauce|
"I brown sausage (and I usually also brown some country spare ribs...nothing like pork fat for flavor...but the stores were so crazy I didn't realize I didn't have them until I started cooking) in the pot I am using for the sauce. I put a small amount of [extra virgin olive oil] in [the] bottom just to keep everything lubed until the sausage/meat starts giving off juice/fat. You can remove the meat or just push to the side and add onion and garlic scraping the fond off the bottom of the pan. Then I add the tomatoes, red wine, fresh parsley, basil and oregano (dried if not available), and I usually add some grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Stir this all together and bring it to a fairly high temp (add back the browned pork if it has been removed) and then lower to a simmer before adding the meatballs."
|The woman has banished the word "shortcut" from her vocabulary. You can throw away that cherished index card in your little tin file box. Jean's sauce had a richness that I'd never experienced before, and I live in an Italian neighborhood! I loved the extra grated cheese she included while cooking. It added another pleasant layer of complexity. Wisely, she served rustic Italian bread on the side for sopping up the leftover sauce on the plate. Can you imagine a homemade sauce without bread on the side? I don't want to live in that world.|
|Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food|