Friday, 4 October 2013

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Gnocchi

Well, it's that time of year again... pumpkin flavoured EVERYTHING!
Personally, I don't mind, I rather like pumpkin. I wanted to post a pumpkin recipe myself, but didn't really want to just put up another pumpkin pie, or another pumpkin latte, I wanted something that spoke more to the chefy side of me and the rustic, comforting feel of fall. What better fits that bill than slightly nutty, slightly sweet gnocchi in a delicious brown butter...



If you have ever had gnocchi at a restaurant, or your Nona used to make it when you were little, you will agree that few things compare to their simple, delicate, loveliness. I have worked in restaurants where gnocchi was on the menu year round, and people would come just for that, toting that it was wonderful and the type of thing they would never be able to make at home. Well, you can.

Traditional gnocchi is made with potatoes, flour, egg, and seasoning. It can be served in a brown butter (like our recipe today), tomato sauce, or cream sauce. It is one of my favourites. It has all the flavour of a pasta dish, but the simple hardiness of a dollop of fluffy mashed potatoes.

It is very easy to switch this simple recipe up and add squash, polenta, cheese, you name it. In keeping with the fall theme, and in the upcoming thanksgiving holiday, pumpkin was the obvious choice on this cold, rainy autumn day.

These are gluten free, refined sugar free, corn free, soy free, casein and lactose free; But certainly not lacking in the delicious category.

So before we start in with the recipe, I just have a few tips and tricks you might find useful when making gnocchi:

  • Cook the potatoes properly. By this I mean steam or boil them until they are cooked all the way through, but don't just leave them on the stove forever. Have you ever had gluey mashed potatoes? Well that comes from overcooking the potatoes. I like to use my paring knife and insert it into the potato. If it slides out easily, you're good. 
  • Roast the pumpkin, don't boil it. The natural sugars in the pumpkin will caramelise a bit and you'll get a better flavour. You can do this by cutting a pie pumpkin in half and scooping out the seeds. Then put each half face down on a lined cookie sheet and roast in a 375°F until tender (about 45 mins)
  • Don't add too much flour. This is reason number one for dense, tough gnocchi. I don't give an exact measurement for flour in my recipe because it's all about feel. The dough will be quite wet and soft still. Only add just enough flour to be able to get it to stick to itself. 
  • Be gentle. Use a light hand while rolling out the dough. You'll get a feel for it after the first pass or two. 
  • Relax. It's not as hard as you think it is and sooo worth the effort.

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Gnocchi:

Ingredients:
  • 1 pie pumpkin, roasted and removed from skin
  • 1 large or 2 small cooked, peeled starchy potatoes (russets work very well)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 T pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup pecans crushed very finely (can omit for allergy, just add a bit more flour)
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup All purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T brown Ghee, you can do this using the same method for making the ghee, except leave it on the stove when cooking until milk solids on bottom of the pot brown, ghee changes to a slightly browned colour and smells quite nutty.
  • Fresh sage, just a couple of leaves
Method:
  1. Mash pumpkin and cooked potato quite well with a fork or put through a ricer
  2. Add egg, 1/2 cup flour, pecans, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. 
  3. continue to mix using fork, adding more flour 1 T at a time just until it comes together.
  4. Put a pot of water on the stove and get to poaching temp (when little bubbles begin to appear at sides of pot) but do not boil.
  5. While water is heating, sprinkle some more all purpose flour onto work surface, I like to do this on silmat for easier clean up. 
  6. Dollop about 2 T worth of dough onto floured surface and sprinkle top with a bit more flour.
  7. With a very light hand, gently begin to roll into a thin log, about 3/4 inch in diameter
  8. using a bench scraper, or a knife, make quick cuts every half inch or so. 
  9. dust with a little extra flour so they stick don't together
  10. After about 2 logs worth are cut, gently scoop up and allow extra flour to fall away. Plop them one by one into the water and leave them
  11. While they cook put brown butter ghee into a frying pan and lay sage leaves on top. Turn on burner to med-high.
  12. When ghee begins to bubble around the leaves and the gnocchi float to the top of the water, scoop out with a slotted spoon and add to pan.
  13. Let them cook undisturbed until they let go of the pan, then gently toss them and allow to continue to cook for another couple of minutes.
  14. Serve with crispy sage leaves and a sprinkle of sea salt.



My hubby (also a chef)  came home as I was finishing this recipe and voiced his concern about how gluten free gnocchi would turn out. Having already tested it (and a certain two year old stealing most of it) I was quite confident. I told him he could have a bite, which he did, and then he ate the whole bowl. After hearing him praise my work for a little while and an "I told you so" from me, I was very excited to share this. So give it a shot and impress the people in your family. You won't be sorry.                


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2 comments:

  1. I'm usually quite culinarily challenged, but I wanted to try your gnocchi recipe (because I love gnocchi, especially freshly made) but found I had to add quite a lot of flour, and it still wouldn't "come together". I ended up scraping the resulting goop off the end of a spoon into the hot water to cook it, and while the texture in the end was lovely, all that flour had drowned out any pumpkin or pecan or maple flavouring. Help! What am I doing wrong?

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    Replies
    1. First off, thanks for stopping by! I would like to mention that this dough is quite wet. I usually add flour just until I can get it to hold its shape after scraping the side of the bowl, but is still very wet. If you touch it it will stick to your hands. It's through a very light touch and a light sprinkling of flour that you can manipulate it.
      That being said, There might be a couple things that could've happened. Did you roast the pumpkin? It should be quite dry and if you boiled it it may have taken on too much water. If there is extra moisture in the pumpkin it will take more flour to come together. Try to make sure your potato is very dry also. You could also try adding more pecan. It will lessen the flour needed and help to boost the pecan flavour. This really is all about feel. If you find that you are still having trouble though, you do not have to roll it, you can use a scraper to scoop it up and drop small pieces into the water (kinda like what you ended up doing earlier) Gnocchi takes practice, You'll get the hang of it. Hope that helps.

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