I was pretty young when my Mom first told me that truth, that we weren’t like most families. We would not be having a turkey for Thanksgiving.
“Your father hates turkey. It’s too dry. We’re having steak.”
This was back before the Butterball Turkey Talk Line and the Food Network, so my Dad wasn’t wrong. There were a lot of bad turkey dinners going on back then. (According to a recent survey by Instacart, 19% of us still agree with him.)
But it was more than just dry poultry. We also had steak for Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, Easter, every birthday, every Father’s Day and whenever I got a good report card.
My Dad was born extremely poor to Italian immigrants on the lower east side of Manhattan in 1902. He got himself into banking at 20 with an 8th-grade education and worked hard to achieve middle-class prosperity in mid-century America.
Safe to say he didn’t have steak growing up--or much meat at all. Steak was something he had to earn and it was a sweet taste of success that forever after said “celebration” to my Dad. And now to me. To this day, I’d still choose steak over turkey.
But there was a catch. My Dad liked his steaks well-done. Really well-done. For a guy who didn’t like dry turkey, this is a puzzler.
No steak sauce either. No poivre, no bernaise, no glaze, no marinating, no nothing. Just a well-done slab of beef and my Dad was the happiest guy you can imagine.
If you would like a break from turkey this year, I’m not going to recommend that you cook steak like my Dad did. Instead, try this recipe from Bobby Flay for a steak that looks like perfection in the photos. Even as I share this, I hear my Dad looking at these pictures and saying, “Oh no, that needs at least 10 more minutes. Maybe 20.”
When I look back on it, I am thankful for the joy he must have felt being able to share the fruits of his hard work with my Mom and me. And I am thankful for the values he taught me that help me in business--and in life--every day of my life.