Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving, Ligurian style

Lies, it was not sunny in this moment.
Life in Liguria is the name of this blog, which I originally intended to refer to a positive thing.  But in all honestly, life in Liguria these days is the pits.
landslide blocking the street in the Old Town

It's been raining for what feels like forever.  Every day it's grey and rainy.  We've been under high weather alerts on and off for weeks now, causing schools to close and even the road out of town to close.  The train flooded, Chiavari flooded, there was another giant landslide blocking Via Roma in the old town, everything is closed.  It's just a generally miserable time to be here.  I know that most people think that life here in the Riviera is all sunshine and wine and hiking followed by days lounging on the beach, and I do hate to ruin that, but it's also four months of drying your clothes inside, rain boots, and innumerable shades of grey.

In Italy, things are starting to gear up for Christmas, but this American gal was missing something in the middle.  As all of my other (3, we are not that many) American friends headed home for a long autumn/winter break, I realized I was the only one left to represent my favorite American holiday this year in Monterosso.

Just fits!
So, Manu and I found a 20-pound turkey and got cooking for 10 of our slightly confused friends ("Gino, want to come to Thanksgiving at our house on Thursday?" "Sure!", silence, long pause,"wait, whose birthday is it?").  As I already mentioned, having nothing at all to do and not being able to leave the house means that cooking for 10 people hosting my very first Thanksgiving was a welcome distraction, as it was for our 10 guests who were just as happy to have something to do to break up the monotony of all this rain.

Menu and planning
Too.  Much.  Food.

So, having nothing to do means that we made way too much food.  My turkey barely fit into our tiny European oven, but it was delicious thanks to a day of brining and several curses by Manu, as he wrestled with a raw turkey soaking in brine.  No canned pumpkin?  We made homemade pumpkin puree.  No cranberry sauce?  We made a cranberry orange chutney.  Sure, it sounds like a great idea to serve roasted cauliflower with raisins, garlic and oil, sautéed carrots and fennel with sumac, mashed potatoes and gravy and chickpea dill salad after an antipasto that contained another 95 things (of course we needed two types of caponata!).  It was a great success, but we were left with a mountain of leftovers that we are still working through.  Manu has declared he is not eating turkey until next Thanksgiving, we've consumed so much.  Turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, a turkey "pancake" in the oven, turkey hash, and today's masterpiece, my play on one of my favorite Ligurian snacks, turkey gattafin.  I've written about them before, but years ago, and though I haven't mentioned them since, gattafin have a very important place in my heart.

My turkey gattafin were made with leftover pasta sfoglia, or puff pastry, that I rolled out and cut into squared.  Instead of the traditional filling of borage, chard, cheese and egg, I used diced leftover turkey that I added into a quick sauté of onion and beet greens, along with the ever present Ligurian staple of marjoram.  I cracked an egg into the mixture, added some cheese (goat cheese, also left over from Thanksgiving) and popped them into the oven, shuddering at the idea of eating fried food on top of all of the 4,000 calorie days I've had the past week.  However, having eaten 8 of the baked ones might have really ruined that plan.

In addition to being a delicious way to use up leftovers which merging our two culinary traditions, it chewed up an afternoon of another rainy day here in Liguria.

Turkey gattafin!

Say cheese!  Cheese plate at Thanksgiving