This Thanksgiving, my turkey caught on fire.  And it wasn’t a small fire.  It was a full-blown, flames coming out of the oven, fire extinguisher necessary before the entire house burns down fire. 

You are probably asking yourself how a food blogger manages to botch one of the most standard elements of Thanksgiving fare…  Well, I can assure you that it wasn’t entirely my fault.  It is tradition in my family to baste the turkey in a bottle of champagne during the last hour of roasting.  The champagne mixed with turkey juices creates the most delicately delicious gravy you’ve ever tasted. 

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, the roasting pan developed a small hole that became a much larger hole when my mother poured the champagne over the turkey.  The turkey juices leaked onto the oven floor, creating a violent grease fire that was out of control within seconds.  With our turkey drenched in ammonium phosphate, it appeared that Thanksgiving dinner was going to be birdless.  Luckily, Il Fornaio saved the day by agreeing to sell us one of the turkeys that they were using for their holiday spread.  Phew!

The day after Thanksgiving, I hosted a small “Round Two” dinner for my father and brother.  Needless to say, the last thing that I wanted to do was attempt another turkey.  Instead, I chose a robust Italian menu perfectly tailored to the two most important men in my life - sweet Italian sausage lasagna and ciabatta garlic bread.  This lasagna recipe is one of my favorites because the fennel infused sausage and tangy goat cheese lend a refined flavor to the classic dish.  It’s also incredibly easy, and an obvious crowd pleaser.

Hoping for a less memorable Thanksgiving in 2012… xx tt

Recipe – adapted from Barefoot Contessa


·  2 tablespoons olive oil

·  Yellow onion

·  2 garlic cloves

·  2 pounds sweet Italian sausage in casings

·  28-ounce can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree

·  6-ounce can tomato paste

·  ½ cup red wine

·  Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley

·  10 fresh basil leaves

·  2 teaspoons kosher salt

·  1 teaspoon black pepper

·  1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

·  ½ pound lasagna noodles

·  15-ounces ricotta cheese

·  5 ounces goat cheese

·  2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano

·  1 pound fresh mozzarella

·  1 extra-large egg


·  Preheat oven to 400 degrees

·  Chop onion, basil, parsley, and garlic cloves

·  Thinly slice fresh mozzarella

·  Heat olive oil in a large skillet (10-12-inches)

·  Add onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat

·  Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute

·  Squeeze sausage from casings into the pan and break up the meat with a fork (discard casings)

·  Cook mixture for ten minutes, or until the sausage is no longer pink

·  Add wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, 2/3 of the parsley, basil, salt, half teaspoon pepper, and red pepper flakes 

·  Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes

·  Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with HOT tap water and add the lasagna noodles (you are not boiling the water or even putting the water on the stovetop)

·  Let the noodles soak for 20 minutes with a plate over the bowl to trap the heat

·  In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, the egg, 1/3 of remaining parsley, ½ teaspoon pepper

·  Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9x12-inch rectangular baking dish – spread out sauce evenly

·  Lay out half the lasagna noodles over the sauce, side-by-side and overlapping a little bit

·  Spread half the ricotta mixture over the noodles

·  Lay out half of the mozzarella

·  Ladle 1/3 of the sauce over the dish

·  Lay out the remaining lasagna noodles

·  Spread the rest of the ricotta mixture

·  Lay out the rest of the mozzarella

·  Ladle the rest of the sauce

·  Sprinkle 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top

·  Bake for 30 minutes


toolBOX: kick this dish up a notch by making your own one-off lasagna noodles


t+tSAFETY: let this be a lesson to all of my fellow chefs and chefettes - make sure that you have a fire extinguisher nearby when cooking.  Kitchen fires can happen to even the best of us…