Sweet Potato Gnocchi: the best thing I’ve ever made

I’m not going to waste time justifying that claim, nor the culinary glory represented by the above picture. If you believe me (and you should), I’ll show you how I did it after the jump.

Where to start? I guess the recipe would be a good place. It’s another from the Bon Appetit files, and although I had to make some significant adjustments, the finished product was nothing short of phenomenal.

Above are some of the main ingredients. Personally, I would have rather had a better grade ricotta (I used to see about eight different kinds in Philly supermarkets), but I think the Sorrento turned out just fine.

In keeping with the recipe, I drained the 1 cup of ricotta for 2 hours. Because it was a more commercial brand of cheese (or at least I think that’s the reason), it didn’t produce too much in the way of liquid runoff. If I were to do it again with the same brand, I probably wouldn’t waste time draining it.

Here’s where the problems started. After microwaving and skinning the two yams, I was left with a paltry amount of orange flesh. The recipe makes reference to 3 cups worth, but I only barely scratched out 1.5 cups. I decided to carry on by halving all the remaining ingredients. Since I was only making this for me and my wife, I didn’t think the smaller output would be too disappointing.

After combining the sweet potato flesh with the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, brown sugar and salt (I didn’t have nutmeg), I went about adding the flour and “doughifying” the mixture. Even though I initially halved the flour, I found that I needed to add quite a bit more to make things workable. I continued adding flour as I formed the six balls and snaked them out as shown above.

This was the most difficult part of the procedure. Making anything near a uniform shaped snake was nearly impossible. I don’t know if it was the consistency or my lack of practice, but this was semi-embarrassing for a former Play Doh rolling champion like myself. I ended up cutting the bigger snakes into smaller snakes and rolling them even thinner. The other problem was that every time I cut the darn things, they would pinch at the ends. It looked like I was making wrapped taffy candy.

At right is what some of the cut gnocchi looked like before cooking. This was after rolling them over fork prongs in an attempt to achieve the same ridged style portrayed in the magazine. As you can see, except for a few of the blobs, this method did not work out. But as my great aunt would say, “whadayagonnadoo?”

After boiling and cooling the gnocchi, I had to taste them. I was more than pleasantly surprised that they were of a good, slightly chewy consistency; neither gummy nor falling apart. After browning the butter, achieving the “toasty aroma” that the recipe describes, I added rosemary, salt and pepper. I know the recipe calls for sage, but I didn’t have any and I think the rosemary actually worked out just as well.

Here’s the finished deal, right before sprinkling with a bit more of Parmesan. The simple butter sauce added a nice richness to the gnocchi without overpowering their already delectable flavor.

I’m not kidding when I said that this was the best thing I’ve ever made. Though the preparation takes a lot of time, there’s nothing more comforting than a plate of these sweet potato gnocchi on a cold winter’s day.

I guarantee it.

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