Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pumpkin Gnocchi w/ Sage - Heavenly Pillows of Perfection

I've been wanting to make gnocchi for years but it looked so hard. I was intimidated by the process. Turns out, gnocchi is in fact very easy to make. It's like the lazy man's pasta. I've made pasta several times and it's hard work! This is not at all. You just need to ensure the dough stays cool and that you work relatively quickly while the dough is cool. It's just easier to work with. Following is a recipe from another great Portuguese dude, Emeril Lagasse. This is a great main course or a nice appetizer for Thanksgiving dinner. The smell of the spices, the taste of the sage/butter sauce and the light, pillowy texture of the gnocchi are intoxicating. Simply irresistible.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

It's great to have a "ricer" to make gnocchi because it makes the gnocchi so light and fluffy. This is not just a gadget you'll use once. It's great any time you make mashed potatoes.

- 1-1/2 lbs Idaho potatoes, about 3 large, scrubbed and boiled in skins until tender (about 20 - 25 minutes)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (from a can is fine. you can also boil and puree your own.)
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch allspice
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups flour (I used about 1-3/4)
- Salted water, for cooking gnocchi
- 1/2 lb unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, cooked

How to:

Making the Gnocchi:
- Allow the cooked potatoes to cool slightly, then carefully peel while holding potato with a kitchen mitt. While still hot, puree potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool completely before proceeding.
- Add the pumpkin puree, cheese, egg, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper and mix well.
- Gradually add in enough flour to form a smooth, slightly sticky dough.
- Briefly knead the dough to incorporate the flour, being careful not to overwork.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
- Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and place 1 piece on a lightly floured work surface. (Keep the other pieces cool by placing them by the window or in the refrigerator. It makes the dough easier to work with.)
- Roll piece into a long rope, about 1/2-inch in diameter, flouring lightly if needed.
- Slice the rope into pieces 1/2-inch wide.
- Holding one piece at a time, roll the tines of a fork against the dough until slight indentations are formed. Repeat with each piece of dough, setting formed gnocchi on a floured piece of parchment paper or baking sheet. (This is an optional step - looks nice and holds the sauce nicely)
- Immediately add the gnocchi to the boiling water and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes once they have risen to the top. - Remove the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon or skimmer and set aside briefly while making the sauce.
- Alternatively, you can freeze the gnocchi and cook later. Put in boiled water. Remove when they float to the top.

Making the Butter/Sage Sauce:
- In a skillet over high heat add the butter when pan is very hot. Let butter sit undisturbed until almost all melted and outside edges have begun to caramelize.
- Quickly swirl the skillet and add choped sage. Let cook for 30 seconds longer, season with salt and pepper to taste and add gnocchi to skillet to toss with sauce and rewarm if necessary.
- Serve immediately with freshly shaved or grated Parmesan cheese and peas. Garnish with a couple of sprigs of fresh whole sage.


Anonymous Donna said...

This is serious comfort food. Slept like a baby that night. Delicious and fragrant, it's a winner!

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Madeira Mama said...

Sounds so good! Must try it.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Sandi said...

Love gnocchi...but not sure I have the time or patience to make them. Have you ever used the premade kind? The sauce sounds wonderful!

1:34 PM  

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