Sunday, September 16, 2012

Recipe: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sausage and Sage

If you tickle the earth with a hoe she laughs with a harvest. – Douglas Jerrold

An amazingly different way to use sweet potatoes. This dish tastes like fall.

This is a recipe that screams autumnal harvest comfort food. The rich cream sauce is nicely infused with fresh sage, and the mushrooms sausage and gnocchi round it out to an extremely satisfying meal.

My mother said this was one of the best things I had made for her. High praise. She even wrote down the basic sauce recipe. (I did leave her some frozen gnocchi. We’ll see if she decides to do it.)

Since the recipe is quite “descriptive” I’ll stop my blather and get down to the nut – or in this case – yam of it.

Bake and then mash the sweet potatoes – very, very well.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sausage and Sage
For the gnocchi
Prep: 2 hours  |  Cook: 2 min, in batches  |  Serves at least 8
This recipe makes enough for two meals for 4 people, at least
2 lbs sweet potatoes
3 cups white flour (give or take)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg

For the sauce
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 15 min  |  Serves 4
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sage, torn up
2 cloves garlic, minced
Add the egg, spices and then just enough flour to
make a ragged dough.
250 g Crimini (or white) mushrooms
454 g (1 lb) Italian sausage
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cracked  black pepper
parmesan, for at the table
fresh warm dinner rolls, of desired

To make the gnocchi, bake the sweet potatoes at 350°F for about 1 to 1.5 hours. They will be very easy to pierce with a fork. Baking (as opposed to boiling) accomplishes two things: it doesn’t introduce any water into the potato flesh and it develops the sugars.

Let the potatoes cool slightly and then peel. In a bowl, mash the sweet potato well until there are no lumps at all. (Or as very best as you can.)

Once the mash has cooled slightly break an egg into the bowl. Add the salt and nutmeg. Mix in vigorously with a fork. Make sure the egg is well distributed.

This is where it gets “tricky” (but just a little).

You want to introduce only enough flour into the sweet potato to make a soft dough. Too little and they will disintegrate when cooked and too much will make them heavy. The amount of flour has everything to do with the wetness of your sweet potato mash.

Start with 1 cup of flour. Sprinkle it on top and mix in with a fork. Add more as needed until you have a very ragged dough. Sprinkle a board, or your counter, with flour and place the dough on it.

Begin to knead, adding more flour slowly, until you have a moist light dough.

I find that sweet potato gnocchi are heavier than white potato gnocchi. Starchy potato mash starts off light and fluffy. Sweet potato mash not so much…

Divide the dough into six pieces and roll each out into about a 1” diameter by 16" long log. Cut “pillows” of gnocchi from each log. Place on a well floured board as you go. Repeat with the remaining dough. You will see you have made a lot of pillow gnocchi.

This is not all the gnocchi the recipe makes.
Don’t worry, they freeze well at this stage, before you cook them.

To cook the gnocchi, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Drop several of the gnocchi in at a time. At first they will sink, but as they cook they will bob to the surface. Let them cook, once lifted from the bottom, for about 1 more minute.

Remove the gnocchi to a bowl. Repeat until you have cooked all the gnocchi you will need.

While the gnocchi are cooking, boil the sausages in water until done, about 5-6 minutes. Then slice into easy to eat sized pieces.

The sauce
To make the sausage and sage sauce, heat the oil in a  large sauté or frying pan. Add the sage and garlic and let it cook for about 1 minute. Quarter the mushrooms and add to the pan. Let the mixture cook until the mushrooms wilt and/or begin to brown.

Add the sausage slices and mix well. Then add the cream, salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer until the cream has reduced to your desired consistency.

At the last minute add in the gnocchi, toss to coat well. Let heat through and serve with grated parmesan on top.


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