A very Meatball Thanksgiving

13 Nov

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.

18 Responses to “A very Meatball Thanksgiving”

  1. Maria November 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Of course we have pasta first..then we're so full we can't eat the turkey..not really!!! Italians make room for everything! lol Mangia!!!

  2. Rosanna November 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    In our house we have brodo then pasta and then turkey and pork and every other meat possible!

  3. Melissa Moore November 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    I can't wait for Thanksgiving to make these, so I'm going to make them tomorrow night. Thanks for another great recipe.

  4. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti November 14, 2012 at 2:21 am #

    This is exactly how I make manicotti! I learned how to make them in the 70's from watching my mother-in-law and the Polly O Ricotta cookbook. They are melt in the mouth good!

  5. Jodi November 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    My Puritan roots freaked the first time I had Thanksgiving with my in-laws. Tomato, pasta and green salad. Seriously? What happened to the beige dinner.

  6. Thomas Henry Strenk November 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Wait a minute, this is not pasta!It's stuffed crepes.

  7. Mister Meatball November 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Yeah, well, it is what it is.

  8. Bill November 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    Pasta is a must on every holiday, everyone knows that!

  9. Anonymous November 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    Crepes!!!!!!!!!! What a great idea. Lighter than the pasta and tasty I bet. Looking good. Pam

  10. DQO November 18, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    Eating pasta on Thanksgiving is a crime! Embrace America! Forget red sauce for one day a year!

  11. Anonymous November 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    I would strain the mixture for no lumps, let it settle in the fridge for about an hour and voila they would be as light as your Mom's..Sounds good to me, Turkey to me is just ridiculous, I love clams stuffed with the manicotti and some great bread to dip the sauce of the manicotti in on the side, who says it is written one must have turkey on thanksgiving day, I thought it a holiday to be thankful and for the this I am truly thankful manicotti, clams sutffed, good bread, some wine and familia..wow whee. love your blog, hope your family is recovering from the Sandy crap..our only child lives in brooklyn and loves it a lot, some lost a lot, many suffered so much, it is horrible. God's blessings to you and yours..

  12. Chuck November 20, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    I made your manicotti last night and they were wonderful–never going back to pasta tubes. I was surprised at how easy it was to make the crepes. Thanks MM!

  13. RSA Australia November 20, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    It was nice! I am amazed with the meatballs!

  14. Claudia November 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Yes. But these days probably the Saturday after Thanksgiving. But oh yes.

  15. Vince November 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    My grandparents came over on the boat and we always had Monicotti! I'm married now to Japanese woman and our kids don't like ricotta!!! Now we have sushi and pasta at every holiday meal. THAT\”S AMERICAN! Thanks for the pictures and memories. Looks like my family growing up.

  16. sherriseri November 26, 2012 at 4:06 am #

    Mom's recipe is 2 cups flour, 2 eggs, 1 cup water, 1 cup milk, dash of nutmeg whirled in the blender. I am going to try yours next week. Nothing beats a great dish of manicotti!!How do yours freeze? Do they stick?Thanks, love reading your stories of the family. Brings me back. My relatives are in Heaven now too!!

  17. Mister Meatball November 26, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Freeze? Good question. They never stay around long enough to make it to the freezer. Sorry. And thanks.

  18. Josephine December 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    I just saw your post from earlier this year with the manicotti recipe. It's a staple for holidays and special occasions in our household too. My mom makes them crepe style too…the only way I know. We actually posted a recipe on our blog as well (figs in summer )… You might enjoy it. By the way, the stories here are great. Buon Natale!

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