Pumpkin Sage and Chicken Sausage Gnocchi- Creativity in the Kitchen

Quick fact about me- I have two bachelor degrees, Art History and Studio.  Art has always been a constant thru my life, since I was bored at the dinner tables as a young girl asking what I should draw with the free box of crayons, to the present day sitting in the chef meetings “taking notes”.   When asked though by people how I ended up in the culinary profession, it takes some people a few minutes to connect how being a chef and art degrees correspond.  Yes,food is tasty, but it should also draw out emotion or memories, in other words- is art.

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I have made gnocchi fresh a bunch of times and have found it really simple, you just have to be careful of over mixing the when you add the flour, like all dough’s.  I started off using this recipe from Michael Chiarello and now I am able to eyeball it.  Anytime I have the chance to make dough I am excited, it must be the get your hands dirty method involved!

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You know those look fun make!

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Gnocchi Recipe

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound russet potatoes
  • 3 to 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon gray salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting board and dough

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Spread a layer of kosher salt on a baking sheet and arrange the potatoes on top (see Cook’s Note). Bake until a bit overcooked, about 45 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle, cut in half, and scoop out the flesh. Reserve the potato skins, if desired, for another use.

Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer or grate them on the large holes of a box grater. You should have about 2 cups. Make a mound of potatoes on the counter with a well in the middle, add 3 of the egg yolks, the cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix in the potatoes and mix well with hands. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour over the potatoes and, using your knuckles, press it into the potatoes. Fold the mass over on itself and press down again. Sprinkle on more flour, little by little, folding and pressing the dough until it just holds together, (try not to knead it.) Work any dough clinging to your fingers back into the dough. If the mixture is too dry, add another egg yolk or a little water. The dough should give under slight pressure. It will feel firm but yielding. To test if the dough is the correct consistency, take a piece and roll it with your hands on a well-floured board into a rope 1/2-inch in diameter. If the dough holds together, it is ready. If not, add more flour, fold and press the dough several more times, and test again.

Keeping your work surface and the dough lightly floured, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 1/2-inch in diameter. Cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces. Lightly flour the gnocchi as you cut them. You can cook these as is or form them into the classic gnocchi shape with a gnocchi board, ridged butter paddle, or the tines of a large fork turned upside down. Rest the bottom edge of the gnocchi board on the work surface, then tilt it at about a 45 degree angle. Take each piece and squish it lightly with your thumb against the board while simultaneously pushing it away from you. It will roll away and around your thumb, taking on a cupped shape — with ridges on the outer curve from the board and a smooth surface on the inner curve where your thumb was. (Shaping them takes some time and dexterity. You might make a batch just for practice.) The indentation holds the sauce and helps gnocchi cook faster.

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As you shape the gnocchi, dust them lightly with flour and scatter them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or waxed paper. Set gnocchi filled cookie sheet in front of a fan on low for 1/2 hour (turning gnocchi after 15 minutes). If you will not cook the gnocchi until the next day or later, freeze them. Alternatively, you can poach them now, drain and toss with a little olive oil, let cool, then refrigerate several hours or overnight. To reheat, dip in hot water for 10 to 15 seconds, then toss with browned butter until hot.

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When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Drop in the gnocchi and cook for about 90 seconds from the time they rise to the surface. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a skimmer, shake off the excess water, and serve as desired.

Cook’s Note: Baking potatoes on a layer of salt allows heat to circulate 360 degrees. Scrape the salt into a jar and reuse it again and again. If you do not have time to shape the gnocchi, you can freeze the dough, defrost it in the refrigerator, and then shape it. To freeze shaped gnocchi, line baking sheets with waxed paper and dust with flour. Spread the gnocchi on the prepared sheets and freeze until hard. Remove to individual-portion-size freezer bags. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. To cook, drop the frozen gnocchi into boiling salted water. Cook for about 2 minutes after they rise to the surface.

To finish the meal off I looked in the fridge to see what I had to make a sauce- a half a can of pumpkin, some chicken sausage and a green pepper; perfect for a Pumpkin Sage and Chicken Sausage Gnocchi Dish.

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Pumpkin Sage Sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon diced yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

To make the quick sauce:

In a heavy bottom medium saucepan, add the olive oil and allow to heat.  Add in the onions, followed a minute later by the garlic and sauté until fragrant and transparent.  Pour in the white wine and stir to deglaze the pan.  Allow the wine to come to a simmer and cook for a minute.  Stir in the heavy cream and the pumpkin and mix well.  Spinkle in the sage, black pepper, sea salt and nutmeg.  Allow the sauce to come to a slow simmer and reduce naturally.  You can always add a roux or cornstarch slurry if you prefer.

To bring it all together:

  • 12 ounces chicken sausage, sliced on bias
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, large diced
  • 3 tablespoon sliced green onions
  • Gnocchi
  • Pumpkin Sage Sauce

Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat.* Add in the chicken sausage and sauté.   Follow with the diced peppers and boiled gnocchi, if needed add a splash of olive oil, depending on the fat content of the sausage.  When the sausage is cooked and nice color on the gnocchi is achieved ladle in the pumpkin sauce and give a quick stir.  Serve in pasta bowls and garnish with green onions.

*You may need to work in batches if your sauté pan is not large enough.

Serves 4-6 guests

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Gnocchi is a great way to show your kids how fun cooking can be, and also how rewarding making food from scratch can be.  I think any chance to get the kiddos into the kitchen do something more than lick the spoon is important.  More importantly it will give them a memory of a moment when they created something wonderful.

Go ahead- get your hands dirty!!!

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