The Blind Pig’s Thanksgiving Balls

By Carolyn Wyman

Originally published on philly.com November 2015

“People, of all ages, enjoy ball jokes,” declares Debra Ciasullo of Northern Liberties’ the Blind Pig.

It’s insight she’s acquired as co-owner of a gastropub whose signature dish simultaneously evokes images of Norman Rockwell family gatherings and male genitalia. That dish is Thanksgiving balls: turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes rolled in panko crumbs then deep-fried and served with sides of gravy, cranberry sauce and off-color humor.

Ciasullo and her husband, Blind Pig chef and co-owner David Hentz, also enjoy ball jokes, judging from Ciasullo’s (unpostable) favorite retorts to customer comments about their most famous appetizer and Hentz’s favorite way of livening up a slow night at his bar: by personally delivering this dish to ordering diners and asking, “Can you move your drinks so I can place my balls on your table?”

“Of course, we don’t do this to every customer,” Ciasullo adds quickly. Certainly not to the nuns and priests who sometimes stop by to eat.

Hentz invented the dish on Thanksgiving 2003 while trying to figure out a second-day take on the leftovers from the Thanksgiving dinner served at the restaurant where he was then working. The usual next-day lunch was turkey sandwiches or soup. But when Hentz told Ciasullo about the deep-fried appetizer of Thanksgiving dinner ingredients he had been working on, Ciasullo declared it “genius” and told him to “zip it. If it was served at that restaurant first and became a hit, that’s the place that would be known for it,” she argued.

And so Hentz’s genius idea remained just that until the couple opened their own Blind Pig restaurant in 2011, with the appetizer, then called Thanksgiving bites, on the menu. “David wanted to call them balls. And people at the soft opening said they were too big to be called bites. I said, ‘Yeah but do you really want to call them that?’ I am by no means a prude but I was a little concerned coming out of the gate with that.”

But Ciasullo quickly came around to his way of thinking and she’s glad she did: The Balls were an immediate hit; so much so that within a few months she had T shirts made up featuring the bar name and the slogan “The best balls I ever ate” slogan. Their Twitter descriptor? “Northern Liberty bar with balls.”

That just doesn’t refer to the Thanksgiving balls. Blind Pig also serves blue balls, another deep-fried double-entendre Hentz introduced about a month after the Thanksgiving ones as a special that stayed on after stellar sales. In this case the name came first — “David wanted to write blue balls on the chalkboard,” says Ciasullo — and the dish — featuring blue cheese, short rib and potatoes followed.

Ball specials that didn’t stick include mac daddies (barbecued pork and mac and cheese), sloppy balls (with Sloppy Joe ingredients), hare balls (with rabbit, at Easter), turducken balls (turkey, chicken and duck confit and potato) and Blitzen balls (a December holiday version featuring venison, parsnip and potato).

Thanksgiving balls are a year-round item whose sales dip only slightly in summer and spike, also slightly, in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving — from people who “didn’t go anywhere [for Thanksgiving dinner] but crave the taste” (says Ciasullo), or order them takeout as an appetizer — or, rarely, a substitute — for a regular Thanksgiving feast. The largest takeout order — for 100 balls — came from the Temple Owls football team one November a few years back.

The Pig boasts a wide-ranging regional comfort food menu (including several pork dishes, though the bar name was actually inspired by a Prohibition-era term for speakeasy). Hentz is also committed to cooking from scratch from fresh local ingredients: The cheese curds on their popular poutine starter comes from Wholesome Dairy Farms in Reading and Hentz roasts one to two turkeys a week for the meat in the Thanksgiving balls. Nevertheless, a significant number of new customers are men in their teens and 20s attracted by the name and novelty of the ball dishes.

Most chefs would be dismayed by that but Tir Na Nog/Flat Rock Saloon/London Grill vet Hentz says he’s “just a cook,” and both he and Ciasullo obviously make fun a priority.

To wit: One day this summer Ciasullo was chatting with a customer who mentioned that he was a Wing Bowl competitor. She immediately invited Breandan “Skin & Bones” Lyman to eat a Thanksgiving Ball order as fast as he could. Ciasullo says the bar turned absolutely silent as people watched him wolf down two balls in 50 seconds. (There’s a video on the bar’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/blindpigphilly/.)

“He recently told me that he’s planning to eat the Thanksgiving Balls as his qualifying stunt for next year’s Wing Bowl,” Ciasullo declares proudly.

Get It: $9 at The Blind Pig, 702 N. Second St., 267-639-4565, blindpigphilly.com. Kitchen hours: 5-10 p.m. Sundays – Wednesdays and 5- midnight Thursdays – Saturdays. (Ironically, you cannot get Thanksgiving balls on Thanksgiving because the Blind Pig will be closed.)

3 thoughts on “The Blind Pig’s Thanksgiving Balls”

  1. Great goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just too excellent.
    I really like what you have acquired here, really like what you’re stating and the way in which you
    say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it smart.

    I cant wait to read far more from you. This is really a terrific web site.

  2. Hi, I do think this is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it
    😉 I’m going to revisit yet again since I book-marked it.
    Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.

  3. Hi, I do think this is a great website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit yet
    again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich
    and continue to help other people.

  4. Its like you read my thoughts! You seem to know a lot approximately this, such as you wrote the
    e-book in it or something. I think that you could do with some % to drive the message home a little
    bit, however instead of that, that is wonderful blog.
    An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

  5. Amazing blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m
    totally overwhelmed .. Any tips? Bless you!

  6. My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different web page and thought I
    may as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am
    following you. Look forward to looking at your web page repeatedly.

  7. Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a completely different subject
    but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Excellent choice
    of colors!

  8. Hey there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you
    knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and
    I’m having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!

  9. Fantastic beat ! I would like to apprentice whilst you amend your web site, how can i subscribe for a blog site?
    The account aided me a acceptable deal. I have
    been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast
    provided shiny transparent concept

  10. You actually make it appear really easy together with your presentation but I to find
    this matter to be actually one thing that I believe I’d never
    understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.
    I am taking a look forward in your subsequent publish, I’ll attempt to get the dangle of it!

  11. I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this site.
    I really hope to check out the same high-grade content
    by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own site now 😉

  12. Simply desire to say your article is as astonishing.
    The clearness in your post is just spectacular and
    i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your
    permission allow me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.

    Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.

  13. I am extremely inspired along with your writing abilities as neatly as with the structure in your weblog.

    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway
    keep up the excellent high quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a great weblog like this one these days..

  14. Its like you learn my thoughts! You seem to understand so
    much about this, like you wrote the e book in it or something.

    I feel that you simply could do with a few percent to drive the message house a little bit, but other than that, that is magnificent blog.
    A great read. I will definitely be back.

  15. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or
    did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m
    looking to design my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from.
    cheers

  16. Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover someone that really knows what they are discussing on the web.
    You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    A lot more people have to look at this and
    understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you aren’t more popular since you surely
    have the gift.

  17. It is the best time to make a few plans for the future and it is time to be happy.
    I have read this submit and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting issues or advice.
    Maybe you can write next articles regarding this article.

    I desire to read more issues approximately it!

  18. Very good blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
    paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed ..
    Any ideas? Thanks!

  19. Appreciating the time and energy you put into your website
    and in depth information you provide. It’s great to
    come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed information. Great read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my
    Google account.

  20. Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to
    return once again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom
    is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.

  21. hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up something
    new from right here. I did however expertise several technical points using this web site,
    as I experienced to reload the site lots of times previous to I could get
    it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK?
    Not that I am complaining, but slow loading
    instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google
    and can damage your high quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.

    Well I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and
    could look out for a lot more of your respective interesting content.
    Ensure that you update this again very soon.

  22. My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different web page and thought I
    might as well check things out. I like what I see so
    now i’m following you. Look forward to going over your web page again.

  23. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this information for
    my mission.

  24. Usually I do not learn post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very
    forced me to take a look at and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me.
    Thank you, very great article.

  25. Simply want to say your article is as amazing.

    The clearness on your post is just cool and i can suppose you are knowledgeable in this subject.
    Well with your permission let me to seize your feed to stay updated with impending post.
    Thanks one million and please continue the rewarding work.

  26. I’m curious to find out what blog platform you have been using?
    I’m having some minor security problems with my latest blog and I would like to find
    something more secure. Do you have any suggestions?

  27. Greetings from Los angeles! I’m bored at work so I
    decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the info you present here and can’t wait to take a look
    when I get home. I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my mobile ..

    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, very good blog!

  28. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your
    weblog. You have some really good posts and I feel I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some content for your blog in exchange for a link
    back to mine. Please blast me an email if interested.
    Thanks!

  29. Hey there I am so thrilled I found your web site, I really found you by accident, while I was searching on Yahoo for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a incredible post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the great work.| а

  30. Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up
    losing several weeks of hard work due to no backup.
    Do you have any methods to protect against hackers?

  31. Autoliker, Autoliker, ZFN Liker, Autolike International, auto like, Increase Likes, Photo Liker, Working Auto Liker, autolike, Photo Auto Liker, Auto Liker, Autolike, autoliker, Auto Like, Status Auto Liker, auto liker, Status Liker

  32. I would like to voice my admiration for your kind-heartedness supporting folks that really want assistance with that idea. Your personal dedication to passing the solution all through had become quite invaluable and has consistently empowered somebody like me to attain their dreams. Your invaluable hints and tips implies a great deal a person like me and much more to my office workers. Thank you; from each one of us.

  33. Its like you read my mind! You seem to understand a lot approximately this, like you wrote the e book in it or something. I think that you simply could do with some to force the message house a little bit, however other than that, that is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

  34. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your blog. You have some really good posts and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some content for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested. Thanks!| а

  35. I will immediately take hold of your rss feed as I can’t in finding your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please permit me realize so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  36. Simply want to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in your post is simply cool and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the gratifying work.

  37. Thanx for the effort, keep up the good work Great work, I am going to start a small Blog Engine course work using your site I hope you enjoy blogging with the popular BlogEngine.net.Thethoughts you express are really awesome. Hope you will right some more posts.

  38. Superb site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get advice from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Bless you!

  39. Amazing blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused .. Any recommendations? Kudos!| а

  40. hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertise some technical points using this site, as I experienced to reload the website many times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and could damage your high-quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my email and could look out for much more of your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you update this again soon.| а

  41. I’d need to verify with you here. Which isn’t something I normally do! I get pleasure from studying a publish that can make folks think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to comment!

  42. Hi there, I think your blog could possibly be having web browser compatibility problems. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, wonderful site!| а

  43. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he just bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! “The capacity to care is what gives life its most deepest significance.” by Pablo Casals.

  44. There are some attention-grabbing time limits in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There may be some validity but I will take maintain opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want extra! Added to FeedBurner as properly

  45. What¦s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve found It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I’m hoping to give a contribution & aid different customers like its helped me. Good job.

  46. You can certainly see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart. “If the grass is greener in the other fellow’s yard – let him worry about cutting it.” by Fred Allen.

  47. Fantastic beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a blog website? The account helped me a appropriate deal. I have been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided vibrant transparent concept

  48. I have been browsing online greater than three hours as of late, yet I by no means discovered any interesting article like yours. It is pretty value sufficient for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content as you did, the web might be a lot more useful than ever before. “No one has the right to destroy another person’s belief by demanding empirical evidence.” by Ann Landers.

  49. obviously like your web-site however you need to check the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very troublesome to tell the reality however I will definitely come back again.

  50. Whats up very nice blog!! Guy .. Excellent .. Wonderful .. I will bookmark your site and take the feeds additionally? I’m satisfied to find so many useful information here in the publish, we want develop more strategies in this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .| а

  51. I’ve been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this website. Thank you, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your web site?

  52. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your article seem to be running off the screen in Safari. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know. The design look great though! Hope you get the issue solved soon. Many thanks

  53. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100 sure. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks

  54. Hello There. I discovered your weblog the usage of msn. This is a really neatly written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your helpful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.

  55. Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your design. With thanks

  56. I’m so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

  57. Thanks for a marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and may come back later in life. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great writing, have a nice afternoon!

  58. I must say that I am happy at the overall quality of your posts and site design. It is pretty hard to come across a site that is both illuminating and interesting just like your own. You’ve got a particular approach of generally hitting the nail on the head and in very innovative ways. Wonderful site!

  59. Hi my loved one! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include approximately all significant infos. I’d like to peer more posts like this.

  60. Very interesting details you have mentioned, appreciate it for putting up. “Never call an accountant a credit to his profession a good accountant is a debit to his profession.” by Charles J. C. Lyall.

  61. I am pretty amazed with your writing capabilities and also with the structure of your web site. Is this a paid theme or did you create it all by yourself? Apart from the design, your content is also high grade. It is actually nice to see a refreshing web site again.

  62. I simply just couldn’t leave your web-site without making a remark on the high quality of your posts and the volume of facts you deliver to your visitors. Will surely be checking back frequently to have a look at what other excellent facts you’ve got up your sleeves.

  63. Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Many thanks| а

  64. Howdy! I know this is somewhat off-topic but I had to ask.
    Does managing a well-established blog such as yours take a
    large amount of work? I am completely new to blogging however I do write in my diary every day.
    I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new
    aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

  65. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back in the foreseeable future. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great job, have a nice holiday weekend!| а

  66. I have been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.

  67. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  68. Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too excellent. I really like what you have acquired here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I can’t wait to read far more from you. This is actually a terrific web site.| а

  69. Throughout the grand scheme of things you’ll receive an A for effort and hard work. Where you actually confused us was in all the facts. You know, they say, details make or break the argument.. And it couldn’t be much more true right here. Having said that, let me reveal to you what did deliver the results. The article (parts of it) is actually rather powerful which is most likely why I am taking an effort to comment. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. Second, while I can easily notice the leaps in reasoning you come up with, I am definitely not confident of exactly how you appear to connect the details which make your conclusion. For now I shall subscribe to your point but trust in the near future you connect the dots much better.

  70. obviously like your website however you have to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to tell the truth on the other hand I?¦ll definitely come again again.

  71. I was recommended this website via my cousin. I am no longer sure whether this publish is written via him as nobody else realize such designated approximately my trouble. You’re amazing! Thanks!

  72. I absolutely love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you build this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own site and would love to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Appreciate it!| а

  73. I believe this web site has got some real excellent information for everyone :D. “The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man that it forms.” by Henri Frdric Amiel.

  74. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Superb work!

  75. Wow! This could be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Great. I am also an expert in this topic so I can understand your effort.

  76. After study a couple of of the weblog posts on your web site now, and I really like your approach of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site checklist and will likely be checking again soon. Pls check out my website online as effectively and let me know what you think.

  77. Pingback: generic ventolin
  78. I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my website 🙂

  79. First of all I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I have had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Many thanks!| а

  80. Hi would you mind stating which blog platform you’re
    working with? I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a difficult time
    choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs
    and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  81. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is important and all. Nevertheless think about if you added some great visuals or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this blog could definitely be one of the most beneficial in its niche. Amazing blog!

  82. Fantastic items from you, man. I have remember your stuff previous to and you are simply too fantastic. I actually like what you’ve bought here, really like what you are stating and the best way in which you say it. You’re making it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I cant wait to read far more from you. That is actually a wonderful site.| а

  83. Hiya, I am really glad I have found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossips and net and this is really frustrating. A good web site with exciting content, that is what I need. Thanks for keeping this web site, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can not find it.

  84. Aw, this was a unqualifiedly nice post. In mental image I would like to disdain in book like this additionally ? entrancing epoch and actual effort to grow into a least good article? but what can I say? I shelve alot and beside no means seem to get something done. http://www.starjackio.live