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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

I adore gnocchi. The first time a friend ever tried making it, it was a disaster. So, I suspected it might be one of those things that was best left to restaurant kitchens.

But when the October issue of Bon Appetit arrived with a recipe for Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter -- from the kitchen of Lidia Bastianich -- I was determined to try it.

Oh, my. Good idea or bad idea? I am still not sure. Though it certainly does look gorgeous bubbling there in the pan, doesn't it?

But let's add up the damage: FOUR HOURS of cooking. Yes, I made a pot of chicken vegetable soup too while I waited through various cooking and chilling times. But seriously, I started at 4:40 p.m. and ate around 9. Thank heavens I went to Duke and have plenty of free time on my hands during football season!

The other downside: this recipe was a clear violation of my friend Anne's rule not to make anything that makes you buy something you do not typically need or keep on hand. (Said rule applies not so much to perishables as things like truffle oil or fish sauce or -- in this case -- nutmeg -- that will linger in your pantry for months, possibly years.) I further violated this rule by purchasing a special piece of kitchen equipment, a potato ricer. Even worse, I had to go to three stores before I found the ricer, finally purchasing one at my trusty neighborhood Blackhawk Hardware. Worse still, this potato ricer cost me $14.

And the worst of the worst is that it broke! No kidding. Notice bent handle below.

Anyway, I will not walk you through the exact recipe, as you can easily read it for yourself, but here are my key takeaways. You begin by boiling a potato and roasting a butternut squash. Then you puree the squash and rice the potato.
After the ricer meltdown, I ended up running the potato through the shred blade on my Cuisinart, and it worked fine. I am trotting right back up to Blackhawk tomorrow to return that ricer!
I pureed the roasted squash in my Cuisinart, removed the extra liquid by cooking it for a few more minutes, and made a dough with the potato, squash, flour, an egg, Parmesan and nutmeg. Was not sure if 1 1/2 tsp. of fresh grated nutmeg was really equal to 1 1/2 tsp. of dried nutmeg, but I think it tasted OK in the end (though nutmeg is not one of my favorite flavors).
Mixing the dough was a pretty messy proposition. You divide the dough into eight parts and roll each one out. This was when it kind of got fun -- and also when my sister showed up, as I had invited her for dinner. She helped me cut and shape gnocchi, but once she found out dinner would not be until much later, she elected to eat elsewhere. I didn't blame her.
The gnocchi have to chill for at least an hour, so I worked on my soup for a while and cleaned up my extremely messy kitchen. By now, I was in the home stretch. Soup made and kitchen tidied up, I boiled the chilled gnocchi for 15 minutes. It actually looked like it was working! I was worried the gnocchi would just turn to mush being boiled that long, but I guess it puffs up the flour and activates the egg.
The gnocchi came out of the boiling water and back onto parchment paper to cool while I melted butter and chopped fresh sage.
I tossed them in the butter and sage until they got a little bit brown and were coated with butter. And then...a mere four hours after this odyssey started...I dug in!
It was absolutely delicious. Almost as delicious as the butternut squash ravioli with sage at Aria in uptown Charlotte. And that is what I belive I will be having the next time I get this craving!

1 comment:

Dee Stephens said...

AWESOME!!Looks heavenly! :) Good for you cooking something new that look intimidating. I'm dying to try and make a beef wellington at some point!