Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

This recipe was sort of implied in our previous gnocchi post, but I thought I'd post it as a stand-alone recipe because it's just so darn good. The time consuming part is making the gnocchi, but once that's done with the rest goes quickly. If you want to freeze some for future use (which you will be very thankful you did), freeze the gnocchi in a single layer after they are formed, but before they are boiled. Once they're frozen fully, place them in a ziploc bag and simply dump them in boiling water when you're ready to eat them. They can be eaten right after boiling or fried in a little oil if you want crisp edges.

Use the guidelines below as a ratio, which you can increase for a larger batch. This makes enough for 2 meals for 2 people or so. Apparently true gnocchi don't even contain egg, but I haven't tried the recipe that way. If you try that and it works out, let me know.


The gnocchi with lamb summer sausage and steamed brussels sprouts (I grew them!) with butter and lemon.

Gnocchi

2 lbs. cooked squash puree (steamed or baked)
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
~ scant 2 c. flour + more for dusting
1 tsp . salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
pinch of nutmeg

Cook the squash immediately before making the gnocchi, so it's still hot when you form the dough. Puree the squash, ideally with a potato ricer or food mill.

Sprinkle the squash with the spices and make a well in the center of the puree. Add the eggs and half of the flour and combine well using your hands. Add the rest of the flour a little bit at a time so that the dough just coheres. You want to a) mix it very little, b) add as little flour as possible, and c) keep the dough very sticky and flexible. Once it forms into a very soft mound, turn it onto a floured board.

Cut off handfuls of dough and form them into snakes about 3/4" in diameter. Cut into 1/2" pieces. You can roll the gnocchi individually across the tines of a fork at this point to give them ridges (which hold more sauce), but I find this step to be time consuming and unnecessary. Mine never seem to hold the ridges through boiling.

If you're going to freeze some, place them on a tray in the freezer at this point. Otherwise, boil the gnocchi in small batches in well-salted water until they float, plus another 30 seconds or so. Strain them from the water and toss them in oil or melted butter while you complete the batch. Serve as is with grated parmesan, or use them in a recipe, such as the one below:

Gnocchi in Brown Butter and Sage

30-50 gnocchi
3/4-1 stick unsalted butter
10 fresh sage leaves, slivered
salt and pepper
fresh parmesan

In a heavy-bottomed, large frying pan, melt the butter very patiently over medium heat. Taking care not to scorch it, allow the butter to turn golden brown. Add the gnocchi and a couple pinches of salt and toss occasionally so that they get crisp and brown on several sides. Add the sage leaves, and pepper, and toss, cooking for one minute more. Remove from the pan and serve piping hot with a generous pile of freshly grated parmiggiano regiano on top.

***

This might also be good with some lightly cooked prosciutto slivers mixed in. Also, cooking virtually anything in brown butter makes it delicious, so I recommend this technique for all kinds of things. I like to cook steamed carrots in it with a little shredded red cabbage for extra color.

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