Thanksgiving in Assisi: Umbria Goodness Reigns
Our family celebrates Thanksgiving here in Assisi, too, but the Sunday following the holiday. Pino needs the weekend to fulfill his role, a major one: the creation of il tacchino di Pino.
For years, we’ve ordered the turkey a few days prior from Assisi’s best butcher, Francesco, who well knows “che serve a Pino per la vostra festa di ringrazimento” (“what Pino needs for your feast of Thanksgiving”): two deboned turkey thighs, three or four sausages and the lard Francesco seasons with garlic, rosemary, and sage.
When I picked up the thighs the day before our banchetto (and what a banquet it would be!), beaming Francesco pounded them with his stainless steel mallet….
…..and then rolled them up for me, the container of seasoned lard ready on the counter near the two folded turkey thighs.
That Saturday evening, Pino covered both turkey thighs front and back with Francesco’s seasoned lard…..
…..to which he’d added fresh thyme, marjoram, ground sausage, grated lemon peel and a generous amount of Peppa’s condimento:
Peppa made that seasoning for the basting of meats by blending a generous handful of fresh sage, garlic, fresh rosemary, her own olive oil, salt, pepper. (Recipe? None. Drop in some time and help Peppa make her condimento.)
Then the two seasoned turkey thighs spent the night in our fridge:
While Pino had been seasoning his turkey Saturday afternoon, our visiting friend Emilie had helped me prepare our accompanying vegetables dishes.
She cleaned and slit the yams we’d roast with olive oil, garlic and Vermont maple syrup (thanks, cousin Charlie for that precious gift!):
Emilie tackled the turnips next: they’d be baked au gratin topped with pecorino (sheep’s milk cheese).
She also handled the peeling of the steamed onions we’d use in creamed onions with brandy….
….and diced the parsley we’d be using the next day in our beet/ walnut/apple salad (seasoned with wine vinegar and our olive oil):
She also chopped the winter squash into chunks for the baked squash/olive oil/garlic/fresh rosemary side dish….
(Grazie a Dio for Emilie!)
Saturday preparations concluded with the chopping of walnuts for the Waldorf salad we’d make the next day with yogurt, celery, olive oil, lemon juice, apples, and raisins.
First task Sunday morning?
The chopping of bread crusts, celery, onion, sage, chopped apples and chestnuts for the stuffing, all mixed with a beaten egg and our olive oil. The stuffing is my realm but Pino invaded a bit, adding ground sausage and diced apples, too. The stuffing topped one of the turkey thighs seasoned the day before…..
……..and then Pino put the other on top, tying them together.
Final step: into the oven.
….and here’s that buonissimo, squisito, stupendo tacchino di Pino:
Pino had baked potato chunks in garlic and olive oil, adding the juices of the turkey near the end of their roasting:
We had other potato dishes as well for Keegan brought mashed potatoes and I’d baked until crisp discs of potatoes and turnip celery, seasoned with diced garlic and our olive oil.
As we neared lunchtime, cornbread alongside an array of our Thanksgiving side dishes warmed on the top of our wood stove:
……and our vegetable dishes also included the baked vegetable medley our friend Simona brought to the lunch:
Roman friends Silvana and Mauro brought a tasty selection of olives and some of those olives were added to the fennel and orange salad:
Peppa, Emilie, Giulia and our friend Mary handled most of the desserts.
Peppa had baked her tasty roccia cake and Giulia and Emilie both baked pumpkin pies while I baked a bread with pumpkin and pecans.
Our friend Mary baked both an apple pie and a carrot/pecan cake and her husband Renato brought us the wine he had made:
Feasting started with tastes of all the autumn vegetable dishes, cornbread on the side:
‘And then the gran finale: Giulia and Pino headed to the kitchen to prepare turkey, turkey stuffing and potatoes:
Il tacchino di Pino united us all:
And desserts were a sweet topping to the solidarity:
And I remember that the uniting element of a post-Thanksgiving feast in the U.S. was often a football game – at least for Dad and my five brothers.
I thought about them gathered in front of the TV after our pumpkin pie as Keegan, Guglielmo and Pino caught the end of a soccer game this year after their pie. Not on T.V. though, but on a computer
Guglielmo’s favorite team lost.
(Maybe another slice of Giulia’s pumpkin pie would have consoled…)
Click here for the recipe for zucca agliata
Read here about another memorable Thanksgiving
See here how Pino makes that tasty tacchino di Pino
(And thanks to Emilie and Simonetta for letting me include here some of their photos, too).