Last year, on the eve of The Soprano’s finale, millions of viewers cleared their social calendars, bought Chianti by the case and pulled out their Italian cookbooks in search of a classic Italian meal that would comfort them through the final minutes of a much loved, six season drama. Soprano’s Finale parties were all the rage. Dedicated viewers and occasional visitors alike, all talked of what they planned to do the night of the show’s finale. Parties of Sopranos fans were organized. Whole menus were designed to celebrate the many meals witnessed by the ever-hungry mob boss, Tony Soprano. Baccala was served alongside lasagna and bowls of pasta brimmed with heavy meatballs.
On the night of the season finale, the Los Angeles streets were unusually quiet. Viewers gathered in groups or sat alone, breathless, watching the final seconds tick by as the drama crescendoed for the final time.
And now, the streets are about to get very quiet again, but for a much different reason.
The Wire, a much loved and too-smart-for-it’s-own-good, HBO series about down and dirty politics of politicians and drug gangs in Baltimore, is coming to an end. After this Sunday, David Chase’s narrative “wire-tap” on the whispered communications of a gritty city will be silenced. No more gritty insights and great one-liners for us arm-chair activists, too scared to get to know the realities of inner-city culture by hanging out with the gangsters on the corner. Anyone that’s ever watched The Wire, is often fond of saying “it’s one of the best shows ever written for television.”
And yet, only a core group of dedicated watchers are racked with anxiety over the show’s coming finale. Granted, the small percentage of us are talking about it, nay, obsessing over the potential final story points, but hardly no one at the breakfast counter or gas pump are talking about the show. Let alone planning their menu around the show finale.
Well, I certainly am.
The Wire Season Finale Party Menu
One 12 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon (or cheap, domestic beer) per person.
Drink quickly and toss onto roof top. Do not remove.
At least one bottle of Jack Daniels.
To be served straight from the bottle, McNulty style.
Take Out Chinese food
To be eaten out of the box with a plastic fork, undercover cop style.
Take Out Wings
Hot and spicy. To be eaten with fingers, corner-boy style.
Alcoholic Roasted Duck
Borrowed and adapted from Food Network Kitchens
1 beer-and-bourbon fed duck (Baltimore Port), about 5 pounds
Six 1 by 3-inch strips orange zest
1 small onion, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed
8 whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
A day before roasting, have bird drink so much it dies. Cry over your stupid, bone-headed mistakes. Pluck bird. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the bird and discard. If necessary pluck any stray pinfeathers off the duck with tweezers.
Trim the neck flap and excess fat from around the cavity. Rinse and dry the bird well. Set the duck on a rack on a baking sheet, and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours. Go to bar with buddies. Talk about the big score you just landed.
Sleep off hangover then wake up at the crack of noon and heat your mom’s oven to 300 degrees F. Pierce the duck’s skin all over (including the back), every 1/2-inch, with a skewer or small knife. Season the cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with 3 strips of the orange zest and the onion. Set the duck on a rack in a roasting pan, and pour a cup of water in the pan. Roast the bird for 3 hours, removing the duck from the oven every hour to prick the skin again.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Combine the remaining orange zest, molasses, honey, coriander, pepper, orange juice, vinegar, and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring, over medium-high heat until warm. Remove glaze from the heat and set it aside at room temperature while the duck cooks. Try not to burn yourself.
Remove the duck from the oven and carefully, pour off the excess fat from the pan. (If desired reserve this fat for frying potatoes or wilting greens.) Raise the oven temperature to 450 degree F. Return the duck to the oven and roast until crisp and brown, about 30 minutes more.
Let the duck rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before carving. Brush the duck’s skin with glaze 4 to 5 five times during the resting period. Carve the duck and transfer pieces to warm serving platter. Serve the remaining glaze at the table to drizzle over the duck, if desired.
Eat bird. Do not try to rob the corner guys, whatever you do.
Baltimore Steamed Crabs seasoned with Old Bay
Cover tables with The Sun newspaper, use mallets or hammers to crack open the shells.
Dessert: Jack Daniels poured into a shot glass. To be drunk with friends.