Tag Along with Joe Bastianich for the Perfect Ingredients to Create Your Own Holiday Buffet

Joe Bastianich—restaurateur, winemaker, author and television personalityMany years ago, while living in Greenwich, we would take our two children to a family-style, Italian-American pizza restaurant in Port Chester, NY, called Tarry Lodge. Fast-forward some 30 years and the Landmark building is still there, but the food scene is considerably different. Worldly and sophisticated palates now enjoy an authentic experience of Italian culture in cuisine, wine and artisanal products at Bastianich and Batali’s Tarry Lodge restaurant and Tarry Market.

In the world of celebrity chefs, restaurateurs and wine experts, the name Bastianich might ring a bell. Joe Bastianich—restaurateur, winemaker, author and television personality—is partnered in business with his mother, Lidia Bastianich (also a celebrity chef, TV host, author), and much-celebrated chef, restaurateur and television personality Mario Batali.

Together with Tarry Market Executive Chef Patrick Lacey, Joe created a festive holiday menu just for CTC&G. They devised an impressive Italian dinner buffet that’s perfect for home entertaining. Then, Joe took us shopping for the food ingredients at Tarry Market, and to his wine shop next door to select wines to pair with each course. I was curious about how old Joe was when he had his first glass of wine at the table. “My first taste of wine was not at all something memorable,” he said. “I had been tasting wines at the restaurant for god knows how long. From a very early age, I realized I possessed a good palate—my mother used to call me a born taster.”

Chef Patrick then cooked up a bountiful spread of savory deliciousness. Each dish was prepared with layers of flavors that build and come together as a symphony on your palate: This is what Italy tastes like. When I asked Joe for home-entertaining tips, he suggested: “Take into consideration the specific group you are hosting. A dinner party for work colleagues or your boss may not be the best environment to serve something difficult or awkward to eat. You want to put people at ease and make everyone comfortable.” According to Joe, “With the right ingredients, anyone can make a pretty spectacular meal for home entertaining. Playing to one’s individual strengths is always a good idea. Simple pasta dishes made with the right ingredients can be a big hit, and you don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to really nail them.”

Knowing that wine pairing is a key element in successful entertaining, I asked about his go-to red table wine. “La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano, which is primarily Sangiovese from Tuscany,” he answered. And a favorite white? “Vespa Bianco from the Bastianich winery in Friuli, Italy. It’s a fuller white of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a touch of a native indigenous varietal called Picolit. It can be paired with many heartier dishes as well as lighter fare. It’s my go-to bottle—I probably have a little every day.”

Brasato al Barolo (braised beef in red wine)
From Tarry Lodge Executive Chef Patrick Lacey

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 8-oz. boneless beef short ribs
2 carrots, peeled and medium diced
1 onion, medium diced
2 celery stalks, medium diced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ bunch thyme, chopped (stems removed)
½ bunch rosemary, chopped (stems removed)
2 cups Barolo or other full-bodied red wine
1 16-oz. can peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand with their juices
1 cup veal or chicken stock
Kosher salt
Black pepper

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped (stems removed)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
Zest of one lemon
Fresh horseradish, grated kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For gremolata: In a small bowl, combine parsley, pine nuts, lemon zest, and horseradish and mix well by hand. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For beef: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and cook them over high heat until deep brown all on sides, about 15 minutes total.

Remove the short ribs to a plate and set aside. Add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat until browned and softened, about 6–8 minutes. Add the chopped herbs, season with salt and pepper. Add red wine, crushed tomatoes and veal/chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge the brown bits. Bring the mixture to a simmer and return the short ribs to the pan. Cover with aluminum foil or lid, and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. It should pull apart with a fork with gentle pressure.

To serve: Place one short rib in each bowl, top with a little of the pan juices and a handful of the gremolata, and serve immediately. Can be served with polenta or pasta.

Makes 4–6 servings.

A version of this article appeared in the December 2014 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Dinner-Party Panache.