In an effort to avoid the holiday fiasco of last year (two family members declared last Thanksgiving – the first in my new house – to be the “worst Thanksgiving ever” – one of those two people being my own husband) I promised Chad that we would keep this Thanksgiving very small and low key. When it turned out that my brother and parents were going to be in town (they were in Pebble Beach for the first part of the week for an extravagant retirement holiday gift from my siblings) we all agreed that it might be simplest if we went out for a Thanksgiving meal, perhaps for Korean food.

The second night I was going to make a special meal of osso buco as our contribution towards my dad’s retirement gift.

Then Bella thought that instead of Korean food we should try fondue at The Melting Pot; nobody was adverse to the idea, but the Melting Pot, like many non-Asian food restaurants, was closed on Thanksgiving, which pushed my osso buco into the Thanksgiving meal slot.

I first had osso buco at my friend’s Sierra’s house and although I had never had it before, I could tell I was in for something good by the gleam in her eye when she offered it to me for lunch. I immediately wanted the recipe, which she was happy to share, but she warned me that it was an expensive meal to make. She said that when she bought the meat, veal shanks, at Whole Foods, it usually cost over $80, and plus the bottle of white and red and other ingredients, that the meal usually put them out about $140.

Well, that toppled that meal into the category of “special occasions,” but in my get-what-I-want way I just found the right special occasion and also to start softening Chad up to idea of 1) eating baby cow and 2) paying through the nose for that experience. I began to research where I could buy veal shanks, and it turned out that they are not easy to find. I couldn’t get them at Stater’s, Vons, or Ralph’s; one Trader Joe’s carried them but they were very wimpy shanks.  Finally, on the day of Thanksgiving morning, I caved and went to the swanky grocery store, Bristol Farms, where veal shanks are $24.99/ per pound. Since I needed 6 veal shanks, our bill came to $116. (This seems like a lot, but actually we got off easy since I had originally agreed to split the Pebble Beach trip three ways – that was when I was working full time…)

So instead of turkey, I cooked osso buco, risotto, and with a nod to Thanksgiving I also made pecan yams and two pies (pecan and polynesian pumpkin). The meal was delicious. And if I hadn’t been fighting a flu bug I would’ve also made something GREEN. I had been planning to make a salad with my CSA greens but although I started the day okay, the flu bug started really digging in its heels by evening, so by the time I was finishing the risotto I was wiping a clammy sweat from my brow.

And guess what? Nobody missed the turkey. We all enjoyed a special meal with family, and we even still have leftovers. I assured my mom we could roast a turkey for Christmas, but she waved that idea aside, and wondered what else might make a good roast? I suggest prime rib…which will cost even more than veal shanks…

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