Happy Fall! We’re almost two weeks into the month of November and you know what that means? Holiday dinner plans are in the works! Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you are pondering the menu for family and friends to enjoy. If you are lucky to be invited to dinner, you may be thinking of something to bring other than dessert. That’s where my story begins…
Thanksgiving Day 1978
So, it’s Thanksgiving Day 1978 and my parents and I head out to my grandmother’s house stopping off at the bakery, of course, as we did for most holidays. You can’t arrive at someone’s house empty handed! So, we arrive at my grandmother’s house, with an assortment of pies and pastries in hand, in time for the traditional 2:00 PM meal. As soon as my grandmother opened the door to greet us, a delicious aroma came wafting through the air. It was a combination of all of the delectable recipes that were cooking for our holiday feast. Our Thanksgiving meal always consisted of antipasto, ravioli with meatballs and sausage, the main entrée of turkey, stuffing, vegetables, a salad, and grandma’s potatoes. No mashed or sweet potatoes on our holiday table. Grandma’s potatoes have been made for over ten decades beginning with my great-grandmother, Amelia.
Hoarding the Leftovers
These potatoes have been a hit and has satisfied many, many palates over the years. I recall my mother telling me a story about when she was a teenager and one of her brothers, my uncle Tony, stashing these potatoes in the refrigerator’s fruit and vegetable crisper behind the tangerines so he could enjoy a tasty midnight snack. Unbeknownst to my uncle, my mother found his stash of potatoes when she was pulling out the tangerines to add to the fruit and nut basket that was the next course after the holiday meal. After the fruit and nuts, the espresso and cookies were served. American coffee and pies were served last around seven or eight o’clock. I know—too much food! Now back to the story… Needless to say, my mother tattled on her brother, and he was scolded for hoarding the leftover potatoes. My grandmother had five children and a husband to cook for and appreciated when she could serve leftovers. Thanksgiving leftovers was on the menu for the next day’s dinner, so those potatoes were not up for grabs—lol! I must say, these reheated leftover potatoes taste just as good, if not better the day after.
As the years passed and my mother and her brothers married and started their own families, my mother took over hosting Thanksgiving. Roasted sweet potatoes were added to the holiday meal with recipes from my father’s Sicilian side of the family—did you ever taste fried artichoke hearts? Nowadays, I prepare mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and you guessed it, grandma’s potatoes amongst other recipes that I incorporated into the Thanksgiving meal. Now that my children are married and will eventually start their own families, I hope they will continue the tradition of serving Grandma’s Potatoes. I know that my son-in-law really likes these potatoes so that’s a good indication that my daughter will continue the tradition. As for my daughter-in-law, another nice Italian girl from the Bronx has not tasted these potatoes yet, so we’ll see. I do have a hunch that she’ll like them, too since she has enjoyed other dishes that I have served.
A Traditional and Original Recipe
The original recipe passed down from my great-grandmother as I’m told, was prepared with pork lard. Pork fat? Oh, no! I’m not a fan of using pork lard at all for a few reasons with the most obvious being lard is not a healthy choice! My mother tweaked the recipe by replacing the pork lard with olive oil. I can attest that the blend of Italian seasonings, grated Locatelli Romano cheese, and a hint of tomato sauce makes these potatoes a scrumptious side dish. These flavorful potatoes will complement any roast, whether it’s chicken, pork, or a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s sure to become a family favorite that will occasionally find its way to your weekly dinner table as a special treat. I recently served grandma’s potatoes as a side dish to chicken cutlets . These potatoes are also a great side dish for steak pizzaiola (recipe coming soon!)
Stay tuned for my stuffed mushrooms recipe, which makes a great appetizer or side dish, just in time for Christmas…