Thanksgiving Day is about family, food, sharing, and, most of all, love. Although Thanksgiving is considered a secular holiday, the feast day subconsciously evokes love for one another and an overall heartfelt appreciation that transcends our senses. In paraphrasing our Baltimore Catechism: Our hearts and reason tell us that there’s a God that made us and all things and keeps them in existence. Yes, we all work to provide for ourselves and our families, but ultimately, we know that it is the divine providence that makes the blessings possible in our homes. In Cor.1:10, St. Paul says: “But by the grace of God, I am what I am…”
More important than the feast of food on Thanksgiving Day is the intimate sharing with loved ones that happens around the dinner table. It’s as if one can make tangible the love at the table and scoop it up from a bowl. It’s that overwhelming awareness of how blessed one is, in bounty of love, food, and blessings, that makes Thanksgiving Day so special. However, when the plates are empty, the word “Thanksgiving” is put on pause for another 365 days.
Today, it’s easy to take for granted the blessings that our Good Lord has bestowed upon us because we have come to expect them, like clothes, food, shelter, employment, and more. But we must keep the value of being thankful at the forefront of our minds. Try making a special meal of gratefulness each day with your family. As the family gathers at your table, realize that not everyone in the world has food to eat, or a roof over their heads. Therefore, a heartfelt prayer is very appropriate in asking God to provide for all those less fortunate. In prayer, exclaim to our Good Lord that you are truly grateful for all that He’s provided for you and your family. In making an effort to give thanks, we can appreciate the things that we have been blessed with and, at the same time, impress upon ourselves a sense of compassion and love for the less fortunate. As St. Teresa of Calcutta said: “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into the giving.”
The true challenge is to remain thankful year-round, not just on Thanksgiving Day. G.K. Chesterton ascribed to such a life: “When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted, or take them with gratitude.”
CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods, Corp., a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’d grown there since the 1800s. His recently released cookbook is May Love Be the Main Ingredient At Your Table (2017), with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family, and recipes from his Old World childhood
Osso Buco (Veal Shank) • serves 4
Salt and pepper to taste
4 veal shanks with bone, about 2 to 3 inches thick½ cup flour
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and cut into ¾-inch rounds
4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch long pieces
½ cup port wine
½ cup Marsala wine
½ onion, diced
1 cup chicken stock, unsalted
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
Salt and pepper each veal piece, and lightly dredge in flour.
Heat extra-virgin olive oil, pan sear each veal piece, and set aside.
In a large baking dish, place seared veal. Spread cut vegetables around the meat, leaving the meat uncovered.
Salt and pepper vegetables to taste.
Add wine and chicken stock.
Cover and bake veal shanks for 1 ½ to 2 hours at 350°F.
For the last half hour of baking, slightly uncover. To check for doneness, pierce a shank with a fork. The meat should pull apart easily and feel soft and tender.
Remove meat from baking dish and keep warm.
Add butter to vegetable mixture, and cook in a sauté pan on high heat until sauce mixture thickens slightly.
Plate veal and serve topped with the vegetable sauce.