Rich Torrisi is a classically trained chef and partner at some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants, including Carbone, the Grill and the Pool. But when it comes to Thanksgiving, he’d never attempt his family’s most-beloved dish: His 98-year-old grandmother Angelina’s famous zucchini casserole.
“It would be a huge family insult — that’s her thing,” the Westchester native tells The Post. “You don’t come around trying to one-up grandma.” But that shouldn’t stop you from riffing on her idea. Here, Torrisi and other top city chefs share their family’s most mouthwatering Thanksgiving sides.
All buttered up
Every Thanksgiving, chef Craig Koketsu looked forward to his mother’s monkey bread. “My brothers, sisters and I would endure the pain of burnt fingertips for the pleasure of hot, crispy, steamy, chewy, buttery rolls,” says Koketsu, who grew up in San Jose, Calif. He says he loved watching his mother cut Bridgford Frozen Ready-Dough into small pieces, dipping them each in melted butter and arranging them in a large Bundt pan. “The excessive amount of butter was sort of enthralling,” says Koketsu, whose mother, Karlene, passed away this past summer. While he doesn’t make the dish himself for Thanksgiving, it inspired Koketsu to put monkey breads on the menu at several of his restaurants, which include Quality Eats, Quality Meats and Quality Italian. “It’s one of my fondest memories,” he says of the comforting, pull-apart carb.
Italian meets American
Rich Torrisi knows that his grandma Angelina’s zucchini casserole isn’t exactly Instagram bait. “It’s really not a good-looking thing,” says the 39-year-old. “But [it’s] a really yummy thing.” The dish riffs on the classic, creamy, American veggie casserole his grandma had as a kid — but instead of the usual corn or mushrooms, she uses shredded zucchini, along with oregano, parsley, garlic, olive oil and, of course, sour cream. “It’s everybody’s favorite,” says Torrisi. With Angelina getting older, Torrisi says he hopes his aunt might make the Italian-accented recipe this year, although he doubts it’ll be up to grandma’s standards. “No matter how nice we make something,” he says, “she just kind of sticks her nose up and says, ‘I prefer my own.’”
Chef Camilla Marcus’s mom would never stoop to using canned pumpkin in her famous Thanksgiving pie. “If she does it, she does it right,” says Marcus, 33, who runs Soho’s LA-inspired cafe West-bourne. Cooking with an actual pumpkin “definitely gives it a much lighter and smoother texture,” says Marcus, and keeps it from getting too “sticky and sweet.” Her mother’s meticulousness extends to the crust, which she makes using homemade graham crackers or those sourced from a local bakery — no Honey Maid here. Finally, when she’s spicing the mixture, she supplements the usual cinnamon and nutmeg with an intriguing pinch of turmeric. “It keeps you coming back for more,” says Marcus.
Roll with it
“It definitely isn’t chef-y, but don’t tell my mother that,” says Jeremy Salamon, executive chef at the Eddy in the East Village, of his mother’s famous stuffing. It’s made with Pepperidge Farm rolls — crucial, he says, for their firm, doughy texture and flavor-absorbing powers — plus stale challah, mushrooms, lots of onions, salt and pepper. “It’s kind of like a mixture of eating matzo soup, chicken soup and garlic bread in one mouthful,” says the 24-year-old Florida native. “It’s kind of amazing.”
Source: Read Full Article