As luck would have it, this month's Creative Cooking Crew Challenge, hosted by the lovely Joan of Foodalogue and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks, has dovetailed nicely with my current preoccupation. The task: Create an appetizer for Thanksgiving, something for guests to enjoy before the main feast.
My mind naturally goes to a dark place when it comes to Thanksgiving. I realize that it's supposed to conjure up all sorts of warm and fuzzy family memories, but the Thanksgivings of my youth were, in a word, an ordeal. I know I'm not alone in this, and suspect that for many, the Norman Rockwell-esque holiday ideal is more wishful thinking than fact. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that we considered ourselves lucky if we got through the meal without too many inappropriate jokes and grotesque bodily noises on the part of my father. I'm so relieved that's a thing of the past. Estrangement, my dears, has its privileges.
For this challenge I found myself (once again) thinking about the incredible variety of gourmet food cooked by Dr. Hannibal Lecter on the NBC series of the same name. In this case, I thought particularly of the tete de veau he served to his therapist in the season finale, Savoreaux:
Naturally, I had no desire to source my meat using the same methods as Hannibal, nor do I have the training to make a dish that takes upwards of seven hours and requires a kitchen brigade (or the brilliant mind of a serial killer) to execute. Instead, I decided to focus on the marrow bones component. I modeled my dish after an excellent one I recently had at the bar at one of Fergus Henderson's London restaurants, St. John's, near Smithfield meat market.
I think this is the perfect first course for Thanksgiving, as the bones can roast while the turkey rests. And if family squabbles and annoyances crop up at the table, who cares? At least the food will be good.
Make sure to check out the round up of other Thanksgiving starters tomorrow (the 21st) over at Foodalogue!