Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Buttermilk Sauce

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Let me tell you right from the beginning that I will never be making gnocchi by hand again.  Ever again.  Unless I have like 10 people helping me.  These little potato wonders took me forever to form.  My feet were hurting me and I was bored out of my mind.  So, while I’m posting this recipe I don’t recommend making it unless you have help, at least two other people (10 people is a little over the top).

The buttermilk sauce was to die for, so I will be making that again.  Just not with home made gnocchi.

 

Gnocchi:
2 pounds sweet potatoes (as close as you can get
1 large egg yolk
1 container whole milk ricotta
2 cups all purpose flour (plus a little more if needed
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1) Cut the sweet potatoes into about 3″ pieces and stab all over with a fork, wrap in a damp paper towel and steam in your microwave until they are tender all the way through when pierced – they need to be super tender.  Rotate every 5 minutes per side for medium sized potatoes (it took about 20+ minutes).  You can also roast the potatoes in your preheated 400° F oven about 50-60 minutes.
2) While the potatoes are still hot carefully slice in half and then scoop out the flesh.  If you have a potato ricer push the innards through it – I didn’t have one and just shredded with a box grater.
3) After the shredded potatoes have cooled to room temperature add the egg yolk, crumble the ricotta on top, and sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour on top.  Cut in those ingredients with a spatula using a chopping motion until mixed.  Add in an additional 1/4 cup of flour at a time and fold it in.  After the dough is not sticky you can use your hands (make sure that they are lightly floured).  Use additional flour as needed so that the dough is not sticky (think of bread dough).
4) Gather the dough into a ball, lightly pat dough into a disc, and then form it into a compact log and let it rest for 5 minutes.
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5) Cut log into 8 segments. Lightly flour your counter or board.  Roll one segment out at a time into 1” thick logs cutting the logs into individual 1″ pieces.   You can create grooves by  rolling on a gnocchi board or with the tines of a fork (what I did).  Place your formed gnocchi on a plate and refrigerate until ready to cook.  They can be frozen on the sheet and then placed into a ziplock bag and kept in the freezer up to 3 months, once you are ready to cook them place directly into boiling water.
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Buttermilk Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cayenne (more if you want an extra kick)
1/2 cup packed grated gruyere cheese (about ½ cup, packed)
1) Melt the butter over low heat, once melted gently stir in the flour.  Bring the mixture to a bubble on medium low and let cook about two minutes – do not brown or burn!! In another pot warm buttermilk slowly and add the salt until just warm – do not let it get too hot or it will curdle!!
2) Slowly pour the warm buttermilk into your roux (butter and flour) whisking vigorously. Bring this mixture to a boil over medium high heat being sure to whisk constantly until the sauce has thickened.
3) Once it has remove from the heat and stir in the nutmeg & cayenne to taste.  Then stir in the shredded cheese until it has fully melted.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
To Serve:
12 figs, quartered (if you can find fresh hooray! if not dried work perfectly well)
6 slices pancetta – fried crispy and crumbled
fresh chives – chopped fine
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1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi. Give them a gentle stir after a few seconds to prevent sticking. Cook about 5 minutes or until they float to the top. Remove and drain.
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flour on the forehead!

2) Toss with the buttermilk sauce, pancetta, and figs.
3) Sprinkle with the chives and serve immediately.

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Pancetta, Cranberries & Candied Walnuts Brussels Sprouts

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As a child I hated Brussels sprouts.  That’s because my grandma boiled them, and probably only put salt, pepper and butter on them.  Yuck.  Now, I have learned to either bake or pan fry them with olive oil and to add some other seasonings – the seasons that I add are still pretty basic, but man oh man do they make these round little green veggies amazing!

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I typically only put olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic & onion power on Brussels sprout when I eat them for dinner.  But for Thanksgiving this year I decided to add a little bit of color and a lot of flavor to these vegetables that so many children and adults hate.  I wanted to make my friends believers of these little things.

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So, here’s what I did.  This served about 12 people, since it was Thanksgiving and we had so many sides.  I think this amount would serve 4 or so if it’s just for a regular meal.

Ingredients:

pancetta, one package

Brussels sprouts, 1 pound

salt

pepper

garlic powder

onion powder

dried cranberries (sweetened or unsweetened, your preference)

candied walnuts (or pecans)

grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1.Wash the Brussels sprouts, chop of the stem end, then slice each into 4ths.

2. Cut the pancetta up into little squares and begin to heat in a large skillet.  Once the pancetta is hot, add the sliced Brussels sprouts.  Stir and sprinkle with the seasonings, stir again.

3. Add 1/4 cup of water and cover for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Remove the lid and let the Brussels sprouts get crispy.

4. Right before serving stir in a handful or two of the dried cranberries, the candied walnuts and the grated Parmesan cheese.

5. Scoop out into a fancy dish and sprinkle with the remaining grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve warm.

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