I know. This holiday is all about the bird.
Should you wish to take a page from the Meatballs' Thanksgiving tradition, then you had best be prepared to add a pasta course to the festivities.
And not just any pasta course.
My mother (she's the one at the far left, swigging what appears to be a pink bubbly) always made manicotti on Thanksgiving. Those are probably hers on the far right, below the turkey and a fork's lift away from her eldest brother Joe. Uncle Joe is sitting next to his father, my grandfather, John.
There are a lot of Johns in my family. One is sitting next to my grandfather, come to think of it. I wasn't yet born on this Thanksgiving Day, but had I been there might be three Johns at the table, not two. If you count middle names, that is. And were I seated with this particular group.
See, there are likely two or three other tables lined up that aren't visible here, each crowded with as many people. Tight quarters considering that the apartments my grandfather's six children lived in back then, with their own growing families, were on the small side. I can't even tell whose apartment this holiday is taking place in because the six flats in our family's side-by-side tenement houses all looked the same.
Anyhow, you didn't come here looking for a history lesson. And so I'll wish you all a very, very happy holiday and leave it at that.
And if you are inclined to make with the manicotti, here's the recipe that I learned from watching mom. It's from a post that I did here early this year, but repeating it now seemed appropriate.
My family prefers crepes over pasta shells. The thinner and lighter the crepe the better the manicotti, so use a blender for the mix, and keep adding milk if it thickens as you're working. The full recipe is below.
A super hot omelette pan doused in butter is the way to a great crepe. I keep a bowl of melted butter next to the stovetop and apply it with a bristle brush before pouring the crepe mix into the pan.
To make thin crepes you must barely cover the surface of the pan with the mixture. Once the crepe is set and drying flip it over with a spatula. If your pan is properly heated this won't take very long at all.
Here's what the cooked side should look like. After flipping the crepe it only takes maybe 30 seconds more to finish the other side.
This is a pretty traditional filling, made with ricotta and fresh mozzarella.
A simple fold from one side and then the other does the trick.
Lay a light dose of tomato sauce in a baking pan, line the manicotti side by side, then add some more sauce on top. Cover in aluminum foil and throw into the oven, preheated to about 375 degrees F. Remove the foil after around 25 minutes and continue baking.
After another 15 or 20 minutes the manicotti should be done.
This being Thanksgiving, one or two of these babies apiece should do the trick.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Makes about 24
For the crepe
2 cups flour
4 extra large eggs
2 1/4 cups milk (more as needed)
Pinch of salt
Mix together in a blender until fully incorporated.
For the filling
2 lbs ricotta
1 lb fresh mozzarella
1 extra large egg
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl add the ricotta. With a wide-cut grater grate the mozzarella over the ricotta. Add all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.