The boys and I have this fun game we play at dinnertime.
Whenever I make a dish I’m particularly proud of, I deliver it to the table — head down in shame, all sullen-like — apologizing in advance for how bad it’s going to taste.
“I tried so hard to make you something nice, but this just didn’t turn out at all.”
Their faces light up like fireworks, because they know I’m pulling their legs.
They dig in and immediately burst into a chorus of “yums,” lapping up every last bite. Then they play their own trick on me.
“You’re right, Daddy, we didn’t like it,” they say, with frowns that quickly turn upside down. “We LOVED it!”
The latest installment of these shenanigans happened just a few days ago with a dish that garnered immediate entry into The Food Guy Hall of Fame.
I sauteed some Italian sausages and then set them aside to rest. In the same skillet, I cooked down a bunch of red and yellow bell peppers (cut into strips) in the scant sausage fat that remained, adding a little water at times until they softened a bit.
I ordinarily would have used beer, but I was feeding the kids. You know, Child Protective Services and all.
As the peppers cooked, I mixed up a pan of grits made with homemade chicken stock. When all was said and done, I had gorgeous bowls of creamy grits topped with sauteed peppers and sliced Italian sausages, with a little drizzle of pan drippings around the edges.
It took fewer than 30 minutes — which included frequent breaks to referee fights — and it was restaurant-quality good.
When my wife walked in the door and saw all of our empty plates, the boys hung their heads and apologized that the dinner was so bad we had to feed everything to the dog.
She looked bummed but sat down, took a bite and then fake-gagged.
“You’re right boys, I don’t like it.”
“I love it!”
Five satisfied bellies and one puffy chest. That’s a good night.