Nonny's Italian Hot Pot
It’s no secret that food and family are synoymous with Italian cuisine. I was lucky enough to experience this first-hand thanks in great part to Anne Ferlo. Anne died Oct. 17 at age of 85.
She was great-grandmother, or Nonny, to my children Luke and Kate. Mother and grandmother to close friends I used to call family and always will in my heart.
Above all, Anne was a kindred Epicurean spirit. She lived a long life and didn’t waste a chance to celebrate: holidays, birthdays, Fridays…you name it. She and her surviving husband Guido came to work at Tinker Air Force Base from Rome, New York. They brought with them the true Italian spirit: family first, work hard, take care of what’s yours, celebrate like tomorrow isn’t promised.
Guido, her husband of 63 years, still works for the Oklahoma Blood Institute and can still play any musical instrument you put in front of him – a ditch-digger’s heart with music in his soul. Anne was no different.
When it came to food, she took it seriously since it wasn’t so easy to come by when she was a child and didn’t take it for granted. She was a fantastic cook, introducing me to Italian pork roast, cannoli, harvest loaf, noodles Romanoff, macaroni salad, and the greatness of a simple salad with homemade vinaigrette, a loaf of good bread and a bottle of wine. A member of the Greatest Generation, she danced to Glenn Miller and the James brothers for the USO in a burst of champagne bubbles. When she met Guido in 1944, the pace didn’t slow as he was one of the boys in the band.
When they lost their Midwest City home to the May 3, 1999, tornado Anne and Guido — who’s called Guielo on his birth certificate thanks to a paperwork error – didn’t let it slow them down. They rebuilt their lives in Edmond and never looked back.
Nothing Anne did was done without a sense of pride. Her home was elegant and spotless, everything she and Guido have ever owned is treated like a luminary. Relationships are no different. Anne’s boundless good humor and generosity will never be forgotten. And neither will the beautiful foods she prepared. I will carry her Christmas Eve tradition of making shrimp to my grave. Harvest Loaf will be a part of my Christmastime repertoire as well. One of my favorite things she made was this simple chicken and sausage bake.
Here’s to you, Anne. Let’s meet at that big nightclub in the sky some day. The band will be swingin’ while sequins sparkle against the champagne fountain. Save me a pousse cafe, already!
Recipe: Nonny’s Italian Hot Pot
Summary: A family favorite from back East.
- 4 chicken quarters, skin on and unbroken
- 6 to 8 sweet Italian sausage links
- 6 potatoes, halved
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lb whole white mushrooms
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dry oregano
- 3 stalks rosemary, needles removed and stalks discarded
- 3-4 cloves of garlic smashed
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Mix the herbs, spices and garlic with the olive oil and set aside.
- Place the potatoes in the bottom of a large baking pot or Dutch oven.
- Use a brush to coat the potatoes with the oil mixture.
- Layer the onions on top of the potatoes and the mushrooms on top of the onions. Coat with mixture.
- Layer the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables and coat.
- Lay the sausage atop the chicken.
- Sprinkle any remaining mixture over the entire pot.
- Cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 375-degrees, flip the sausages and bake for another 45 minutes.
Culinary tradition: Italian