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Ann Copeletti Baxter, right, passes on the tradition of preparing Copeletti to her granddaughter, Siena Baxter, who became the fourth generation to learn the recipe.

Keeping Thanksgiving Traditions Alive

Most families have traditions for the holidays involving dishes to prepare, often using recipes that have been handed down for generations. Ann Copeletti Baxter learned how to make a delicious pasta from her father that is used in a soup for Thanksgiving. She in turn has shared the family recipe with her son, Chris Baxter and his wife, Linda Valentino, the next generation and most recently extending the tradition to her granddaughter, Siena.

Ann Copeletti Baxter is a first generation Italian American and it was her father, Agostino Copeletti, who created the recipe. He was born 1895 in the town of Valmozzola, in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. For many years, he was the chef at the Palatine Hotel in Newburgh, New York. Agostino even had a small press made to cut out the shape of his unique pasta which he called the Copeletti, named for himself as its creator.

As the Baxter family of Montclair, New Jersey, gathers around the Thanksgiving table this year, it is Ann’s son Chris and her daughter-in-law Linda who will be hosting the holiday event, as they have done for the past decade. It is a tradition within the household to always begin the feast with the Copeletti soup.

The recipe for the pasta is a family secret, but a few details emerged about the delectable stuffed pasta. The filling includes pork, chicken, veal, prosciutto, basil, parsley, onion and garlic, simmered together for about three hours. The ingredients are then mixed with breadcrumbs and Parmigiano cheese and then finely minced. The fresh pasta is made by hand, lovingly by Ann. The bottom layer of the pasta is laid out and then each teaspoon of filling is carefully spaced. The top layer of pasta is placed on top and then each individual piece is cut out using the original stamp that Agostino Copeletti had made decades ago. The pasta is served in a homemade chicken broth. An enormous antipasto is another Thanksgiving family tradition filled with prosciutto, salami, cheeses, etc. The first round of eating begins at about 1:00 pm. The turkey and all of the trimmings are served for dinner starting at 5:00 pm.

Dessert is left up to Linda Baxter’s mom, Anna Valentino, who was born in Pianopoli, Calabria. She adds her special touch by making a pie using fresh pumpkins with a homemade crust. With the love of family, food and traditions, it is no wonder that the Thanksgiving Holiday at the Baxter household has become a favorite. As much as many people around the country look forward to the turkey with stuffing, families like the Baxter’s have their own traditions that span the generations and in their case, it happens to carry on with a pasta that they can all call their own.