Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated on the traditional third Thursday in November at the Silver Spring home of Sally Swift and Michael Franz, two of the area’s most influential foodies. They celebrate three days later instead.

By then, Swift will have returned from a week in St. Paul, Minn., where she produces the live Thanksgiving Day broadcast of “The Splendid Table,” the award-winning radio show she co-created. And that Saturday, she and her husband will gather friends around a large, rustic dining table for a home-cooked, post-Thanksgiving feast, with wines selected by Franz, the co-founder and editor of Wine Review Online.  

The annual dinner also provides an opportunity to showcase the polished hospitality that reflects the couple’s years of expertise as food and wine professionals. Here are a few recipes from their Thanksgiving gathering:

Charred Lamb with Smoked Romesco Sauce

Serves 6 to 8

The recipe calls for cutting the lamb into small pieces, which allows it to cook quickly and carmelize all over. The Spanish smoked romesco sauce is made by crushing together tomatoes, peppers, and smoky paprika with fried bread, almonds and garlic in a food processor. The sauce recipe makes enough for leftovers to smear on bread or serve on top of scrambled eggs the next day.  

Try serving this dish with a Ribera del Duero from Spain or a good quality Dolcetto from Piedmonte.


For the lamb
2-1/2 to 3 pounds boned leg of lamb, roughly cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks
3 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Smoked Romesco Sauce (recipe follows)
1/3 cup whole toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

Step 1: To grill the lamb on a gas grill, set one section at high heat and one at low heat. To use a charcoal grill, light a two-zone fire. To use an oven, preheat it to 350ºF.

Step 2: In a large bowl, toss the lamb chunks with the oil, salt, sugar, and pepper.

Step 3: To cook on the grill, place the chunks over the high-heat zone. Cook about 2 minutes per side to brown. With tongs, move the chunks to the low-heat zone and grill 5 to 8 minutes, or until the thickest chunks reach 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer for  medium-rare; 140 degrees for more well-done meat.

To cook in the oven, spread the pieces in a shallow pan and roast, turning them once or twice, for about 15 minutes until the meat reaches 130 degrees for medium-rare; 135 to 140 degrees for more well-done meat. If the meat needs browning, broil it for a few moments before removing from the oven.

Step 4: Transfer the lamb to a large serving platter and let rest 10 minutes.

Step 5: To serve, thinly slice the chunks across the grain and fan around a serving platter, leaving the center empty. Pour any juices over the lamb, and spoon a generous amount of romesco sauce into the platter’s center. Scatter the almonds over the meat and serve. Pass the rest of the sauce at the table.

Smoked Romesco Sauce

Makes about 3 cups


Extra-virgin olive oil for frying the bread plus 1/2 cup
2 pieces of sturdy bread, such as ciabatta, about 5 inches by 3 inches by 1 inch
1/2 cup unsalted whole almonds, roasted  
4 medium garlic cloves
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon mild smoked Spanish paprika
3 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered, or 2 cups drained canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon Italian parsley leaves
1 red bell pepper, roasted
1/2 cup Spanish sherry vinegar
Salt to taste

Step 1: Add a film of olive oil to a 10-inch skillet and put over medium-high heat. Fry the bread until crispy and browned on both sides. Remove the bread from the pan and cool. With a food processor, grind the bread, almonds, and garlic into a rough paste.

Step 2: Add the pepper flakes, paprika, tomatoes, parsley, and roasted pepper. Process into a smooth paste. With the machine running, gradually add the vinegar. When the vinegar is incorporated, slowly add the 1/2 cup of olive oil. Taste for seasoning. Cover the sauce and let it rest 20 minutes or so to mellow the garlic and blend the flavors.  The sauce can be stored for three days covered in the refrigerator.

Reprinted with permission from How To Eat Weekends, New Recipes, Stories and Opinions from Public Radio’s Award Winning Food Show (Clarkson Potter, 2011) by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

Smoked Trout and Watercress Salad with Warmed Sherry Dressing

Serves 6 to 8

Sally Swift’s husband, Michael Franz, introduced us to this salad that demonstrates how a few carefully chosen ingredients are all that’s needed to make something exceptional. It’s a perfect mix of spicy watercress slicked with mustardy vinaigrette, sweetened with nuggets of smoked trout and laced with fresh dill. Cleaning watercress can be a tedious chore, so enlist help if you can—it’s work even a 6-year-old can do.

Try serving the salad with a dry Riesling, especially one from Alsace or choose one produced by Austria or Australia.


For the dressing
1/4 cup Spanish sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the salad
10 to 12 cups watercress, cleaned and sorted with thick stems and yellowed leaves removed
2 smoked trout, filleted and flaked into bite-sized pieces  
1/2 cup fresh dill, washed and dried

Step1: To make the dressing, combine the sherry vinegar and mustard together using a fork in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently warm the vinaigrette in a small saucepan over low heat. It should be just warmed, not hot enough to wilt the watercress.

Step 2: In a large bowl, toss the watercress with the dressing. Start with half the dressing and add more as needed. Mound the dressed greens on individual plates. Top each salad with the flaked trout and a generous portion of snipped fresh dill.

Read the full story from the November-December 2012 issue of Bethesda Magazine here.