We spent Thanksgiving at my parents’ this year, which is the first time in two years that Keith and I have even been around for the holiday. (Last year we were in England; the year before we were in Spain.) On Thursday, Keith telephoned his brother from New York to wish him a happy Thanksgiving. Later, he told us that Brian was interested in our menu.
“He was very concerned that your parents wouldn’t make a turkey,” Keith said. “I told him that we had a turkey, but he was appalled that we didn’t have stuffing or mashed potatoes or gravy.”
My mother laughed at this. “This is how I’ve always done Thanksgiving,” she said. “This is what I know to do, so this is our tradition.”
It’s true; I’d never tried stuffing until I had Thanksgiving at Keith’s mother’s, and I’ve still never had sweet potatoes with marshmallows — though I am totally fascinated by this combination.
Here’s what we have instead: phyllo dough stuffed with mozzarella, red pepper flakes and parsley (boereg); garbanzo, dark cannellini bean and black-eyed-pea salad with roasted red, yellow and orange peppers; mango-and-cucumber salad; fattoush; pilaf with cinnamon, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts and ground beef; some sort of beef dish (this year was rib-eye with peppers and tomatoes); and turkey with caramelized onions slipped under its skin.
My absolute favorite part of the meal is the boereg, which turns a beautiful burnished gold in the oven. I’m not alone in my boereg love — anyone who has ever had my mother’s recipe has fallen for its crisp pepper-laced cheesiness. During high school, her boereg made my mom famous amongst my friends; whenever they stopped by, they asked if she’d baked any “cheese things.” It’s surprisingly easy to make, though a bit time-consuming. I’ve got the recipe at home, but it’s written on a sheet of scrap paper that I think I tucked in Michel Guérard’s La Cuisine Minceur this past June. Normally I’m more organized than this. I promise I’ll make it a priority to find the instructions and post them here, because boereg is best shared.