Owen had a lot of dishes to choose from on Thanksgiving Day: Uncle Gary’s chilled crab cocktail, oversized pumpkin ravioli, a turkey roasted with lots of citrus and aromatics. But it was these flaky, cheesy biscuits he returned to again and again. Dressed up with a bit of butter and maple syrup, they’re heavenly.
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Remember this pumpkin? Yeah: we dispatched it. Jerry unceremoniously gutted it one recent Saturday and toasted its rich cache of seeds with a bit of olive oil and a lot of salt. Then Scott set about roasting the flesh to make a savory filling for these hand-cut ravioli. Coated with a quick pan sauce made with browned butter and balsamic vinegar, this sweet and savory dish is as versatile as it is easy — plate just one for a fine first course, or a plateful for a belly-filling main course.
Lasagna was the first real dish Scott taught himself to make. It’s easy, it’s cheap and filling, and it keeps beautifully in the freezer — all the hallmarks of a great meal for a then-first year law student without a school dining plan. Just a bit of time in the kitchen on a Sunday yielded a real bounty for the coming week — a restorative pasta dish to belly up to with a text book and a highlighter. Or — as is more often the case now — a legal pad and Owen’s washable Crayola crayons.
If you’re pressed for time or haven’t the inclination, feel free to substitute your favorite store bought meat sauce and tomato sauce. It’ll still be immensely satisfying.
Owen has many nicknames: O, O-Man, Owie, Munchie, Peanut and Monkey are just a few. But “Norma” is the one that makes us laugh hardest; he shares all the best traits of his great-grandmother. Before she passed away more than ten years ago, Grandma Norma turned out stuffed artichokes each Thanksgiving dinner. Jerry never got the recipe, so he set about faithfully recreating the ‘chokes based solely on taste and memory. We think we’ve gotten pretty darn close, and one day soon Owen will get to enjoy Norma’s finest.
In a large pot, bring the water to a rolling boil. Hit the water with a bit of coarse salt. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often. Keep a close eye on the heat — only a bubble or two should break the surface at any given time. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens and the grains are soft and tender, about 20 minutes or more.
Remove the pot from the heat and hit the polenta with the cheese, milk, butter and herbs. Crack a bit of black pepper over the polenta and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding a bit more butter or cheese if you like (never a bad idea, to our mind!).
Owen loves his ribs. Smart boy: what’s not to love about something cooked so slowly and with such love it’s heartbreakingly tender? Now that autumn’s officially here, we have an excuse to cozy up to these fork-tender cuts and pair them with a buttered polenta or parmesan smashed potatoes. Believe us: the house has never smelled so good.
We can’t wait until Owen’s grown enough to eat spaghetti. At this age, he’s sticking with the stuff that’s easiest to eat: buttered penne, cut into bite-sized pieces, cheese-filled ravioli, and ditalini swimming in chicken stock with tiny vegetables. When he’s skilled enough to twirl some spaghetti ‘round his fork, we’ll introduce him to this simple weeknight supper. Until then, his dads will just have to eat his portion.