Food & Drink

A family meal can help keep the family together

Brussels sprouts with pecorino and thyme can be a hearty side dish for a meaty main course.
Brussels sprouts with pecorino and thyme can be a hearty side dish for a meaty main course. MCT

It's tough to ask families to come together for supper every day. But it's important to make time. Start with one day a week. Chose your family's favorite dish, say, meatloaf, and make it every Tuesday. Trust me, everyone will naturally start to build their schedules around the meal. It's a subtle shift in mentality.

The goal is to share stories and arguments. As my kids were growing up, my wife, Susi, started every meal with, "What's the funniest thing you heard all day? What's the worst thing that happened all day? And who did you sit next to at lunch?"

I suggest you adopt a Batali family rule: no technology at the table. No texting, tweeting, Facebook or any other form of messaging.

Sunday supper isn't going to cure the world's problems. But those few minutes around the table can give children the confidence they need to thrive. The food at the table becomes a medium around which people congregate, but that doesn't make it any less important.

The recipe below is a side dish. In Molto Batali, I pair it with an earthy roast leg of lamb with a clementine crust, and a wintry rigatoni pasta with beef and parsnip.

RECIPE

Brussels sprouts with pecorino and thyme

Salt

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, tough or discolored outer leaves removed

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

4 ounces Pecorino Romano, cut into ¼-inch cubes as best you can

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a pasta pot. Set up an ice bath nearby.

When the water comes to a boil, add 2 tablespoons salt. Drop Brussels sprouts into the boiling water, and when the water returns to the boil, cook for 3 minutes. Then drain Brussels sprouts and plunge them into the ice bath. Once they have cooled, drain, trim off the tough ends, and cut them in half lengthwise.

In a 14-inch sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add thyme leaves and cook until they are crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully add Brussels sprouts to the pan (they will cause a spattering ruckus), and cook over medium heat until they are tender and starting to brown, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add pecorino cubes and cook, stirring gently, until the cheese starts to melt around the edges, about 3 minutes. Season with black pepper and serve immediately.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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