Chicken. Waffles.

You might assume that, since I grew up in North Carolina, I’ve had my fair share of chicken n’ waffles. Apparently it’s a Southern sorta dish. I mean, duh, the fried chicken is. But the waffles? It’s something I didn’t know much about. There. I admitted it.

I saw this recipe a while back (ahem, according to the clipping, I found it over a year ago), and I knew I’d need to give it a whirl at some point, to see what all the fuss about fried chicken and waffles being a “perfect marriage of sweet and savory” was about. But for some reason I kept putting it off. I think most of us have an aversion to home-frying. It seems the grease manages to get everywhere, despite using fancy splatter screens. And Chris, well, he’d rather not see the pile o’ shortening in solid form before it melts its way to a hot liquid bed of fry-ready goodness. After all, shortening (or even lard) is truly the only real way to fry chicken, though other methods work just fine in a pinch.

Speaking of other methods, I made fried chicken a while back and posted it on here. It was a different take on your traditional Southern style dish – not brined in buttermilk and fried in shortening, rather it was coated in matzo meal (I’m not kidding) and fried in a vat of canola oil. It was amazing. It’s not a bad way to go if you don’t have time to soak chicken in buttermilk, or for this dish in particular, if frying chicken and making waffles (which also involves cooking sweet potatoes here) is a bit too much, even for a weekend.

Me? I decided to make this specific dish at the last minute before heading out to wine country for the day (it’s a tough life, but someone has to do it…), and in the midst of getting ready to leave, I hustled down to Faletti’s and grabbed a whole chicken, some buttermilk, and a couple of other necessities, threw it all down on the counter, cut the chicken into 8 pieces with the quickness I harnessed from my dad’s teachings, and tossed that sucker into buttermilk until we got home later that night. I already had some mashed sweet potatoes in the fridge, which is what inspired me to cook this in the first place (and they had goat cheese in them, which imparted a tasty flavor into the waffles!).

The recipe is definitely intended to be eaten in 8 servings (maybe less if the wing or drumstick portions aren’t enough for ya). It’s rich, it’s hefty, and it is perfect when you dip back and forth between maple syrup and Frank’s hot sauce. The sweet/savory thing? I totally get it now. Which is probably why, after Sunday afternoon, I had to figure out another dish for dinner that night, as someone in this house managed to eat each and every leftover piece of chicken straight from the fridge, with a tiny crumb trail left as evidence from the fridge to island. The advantage? Lots of leftover waffles that resulted in breakfasts and even a couple of dinners over the upcoming weeks. The disadvantage? I’m feeling another urge to make it again, fried mess and all, because I only ate one whole piece. Decisions, decisions.

Buttermilk-Fried Chicken n’ Sweet Potato Waffles
barely adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2011; serves 8

printable versions
entire recipe
fried chicken only
waffles only 

ingredients
chicken
2 c buttermilk
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 lg onion, thinly sliced
1 c assorted chopped fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, thyme)
2 t paprika
2 t cayenne pepper
4 1/2-lb fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 c vegetable shortening
3 c all-purpose flour
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
2 t cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

waffles
2 c peeled, 1/2″ cubes red-skinned sweet potatoes
1 c whole milk
2 lg egg yolks
1/4 c (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 t freshly grated peeled ginger
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground cloves
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg
6 lg egg whites, room temperature
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

serving
Hot pepper sauce (Franks)
Pure maple syrup

special tools
A deep-fry thermometer
waffle iron

instructions
Marinate chicken
Whisk first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken; cover and chill for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Fry chicken
Melt vegetable shortening in a large cast-iron skillet. Arrange a deep-fry thermometer in skillet so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium heat until shortening reaches 325 F. While this is getting to the correct temperature, prepare waffle mix (see below).

Meanwhile, mix flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne in a large brown paper bag. Drain chicken, leaving some herbs still clinging. Season generously with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, add chicken to bag, roll top over to seal, and shake well to coat chicken. Let chicken stand in bag 1 minute; shake again.

Fry chicken in skillet until golden brown and cooked through, 10–15 minutes per side. Sprinkle with additional salt, if desired. Repeat with second batch of chicken. Make waffles simultaneously (see below).

Waffles
Place sweet potatoes in a steamer basket set in a large saucepan of simmering water. Steam potatoes until tender, about 17 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and mash well. Add milk, egg yolks, brown sugar, butter, and ginger; whisk to blend.

Preheat waffle iron. Whisk flour and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add potato mixture and whisk to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until peaks form. Add 1/3 of whites to potato mixture; fold just to blend. Add remaining whites in 2 batches, folding just to blend between additions.

Coat waffle iron with nonstick spray. Working in batches, add batter to waffle iron (amount needed and cooking time will vary depending on machine). Cook until waffles are lightly browned and set.

Serve 1 waffle with 1 piece of chicken and both sauces.

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Battle Roots & Tubers: Fancy Stuff

Guys! And girls! Everyone in between, too! I was scrolling down my list of pending blog posts and I realized that I absolutely. totally. forgot. to write the post about our 2nd San Francisco Iron Chef competition. Dang.

Maybe I was sad that I didn’t win or something. But I better get used to that – people are FANCY here.

I guess it isn’t all about winning though, is it? Yes, there are some moments of fun, some moments when you just enjoy eating good food and getting to know the other people who are extra-excited about Iron Chef. There is that, too.

There are also the moments of whipping up tasty goodness in your kitchen, and even getting to see your husband cook for a bit, too. Those are both nice things. The things that aren’t nice are the multiple stores you have to go to in order to locate freakin’ taro. That would be 4. And the Asian folk in the store certainly couldn’t help me figure out what taro was purple and what taro was white. As such, I ended up with white, which took away from the visual appeal I had planned, but whatevs.

The result of Battle Roots & Tubers was a whole table full of varying dishes. As expected, there were a few soups. There was a fancy oyster dish straight outta the Alinea cookbook. There was a giant tater tot. There were my taro ice cream samiches. There were mini steak and horseradish samiches. There were spring rolls, and even a lovely ginger beverage. And while it took us twice as long to get our ducks in a row this time around, the food was still warm and by the time we ate, we were ravished for sure. Next time, we’ll have to really follow the rules of Kitchen Stadium, and have a dang countdown for when the food has to be on the table. Ok, maybe not, but we’ll figure something out.

The top three, after all was said and done:

1. Tom’s potato soup (of course, there was a fancy name, but I can’t remember it)
2. Molly’s giant tater tot (and all the fancy pieces on top of it!)
3. My taro ice cream and triple ginger cookie sandwiches (they did have fancy sparkly sugar on top… if that counts)

At least I’m keeping a steady showing in the top three, at least every now and then. Next time, I’ll fancy it up. But I’m damn sure leaving the Alinea cookbook on the shelf. That’s just for prettiness.

As for my recipes, I’d share the recipe for taro ice cream (I mean, it was second loser, after all), but I doubt any of you would really make it. Plus, the cookies that were the best part of the sandwich are found in the archives, so you already have half of the recipe for the ice cream sammys, and any ice cream sandwiched between the cookies would do just fine.

So instead, I’ll share the sweet potato biscuits that I made at the absolute last minute (possibly because the taro rice balls I’d planned to make did not come together as anticipated). Although they didn’t make it into the top 3, they were still really good. And the bowl of cinnamon butter was nothing to forget about, either. I have a thing for sweet potatoes though. Well, and biscuits for that matter. And butter. You can’t go wrong when you mix those together.

Also!! Stay tuned for the next post (or the one after that…depending on how things shake out). I’ll tell you how I managed to get such a big butt. ;).

Sweet Potato-Bacon Biscuits with Cinnamon Butter
biscuits adapted from Emeril Lagasse via The Food Network; makes 12 biscuits

time commitment: 45 minutes (30 which is active)

printable version

ingredients
biscuits
2 c ap flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 c mashed cooked sweet potatoes, cooled (bake a sweet potato at 400 for ~45 minutes)
2 T packed light brown sugar
5 slices cooked bacon, drained and crumbled
3/4 to 1 c buttermilk

cinnamon butter
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
4 t light brown sugar
1 t g cinnamon

instructions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and work in with a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a bowl, whip the sweet potatoes with the brown sugar until very smooth. Add to the flour mixture and mix in lightly but thoroughly with your fingers. Add 3/4 cup of the buttermilk and the bacon and gently work to make a smooth dough, slightly sticky, being careful not to overwork and adding more liquid as needed 1 teaspoon at a time.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat out into a large rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 12 large biscuits and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and risen, 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the butter by mixing the three ingredients together. Put in a bowl and place in the refrigerator to solidify a bit.

Remove biscuits from the oven and serve hot with butter.

Juicing It

Last week is a week I hope not to repeat any time soon. Not because I had a lot of work to do, and not because traffic was rough most mornings, and certainly not because I was sick or anything of the sort. Last week sucked because Chris and I did a 3-day juice detox.

Exactly.

Sure, vacation was great and all, but somewhere along the way we became pretty disgusted with ourselves and all of the greasy, processed, yummy food we were eating. Our pants were a lot tighter (remember? I said bring your fat pants on a Deep South trip) and our tummies much gassier than usual, which, for me, is saying a lot. Too much detail? Never! Anyhoo, let’s just call it the straw that broke the camel’s back, and leave it at that. A 3-day diet of nothing but juice seemed like the perfect punishment answer.

To be honest though, it wasn’t the most horrible event to ever happen in my life. And we did choose to do it (and pay a ginormous amount to do it, also). The juices were tasty, at least most of them (I actually miss the almond drink at night), and we certainly weren’t starving since we were drinking water and/or juice almost constantly. But damn, I missed eating. I missed chewing. I missed the variety of tasting something different every day if I chose to. The worst part about it all? We had a lovely weekend beforehand including extra-amazing pulled pork, coleslaw, and baked beans, and I couldn’t even eat the leftovers since we had to go vegan for two days before the juicing started.

Let’s chalk that up to poor planning on our part. We ran out of weekends in September and October, and we had to have a “shredded meat + zombie show marathon” party before the season 2 premiere of The Walking Dead this past Sunday, so there really was no way around it whatsoever. I want to say it was worth it, but all day Sunday I thought about my friends Elizabeth and Kevin and just knew they were tearing into the leftovers we’d forced on them. If they didn’t live all the way on the other side of the bridge I would have stolen it all back come Wednesday, so clearly it’s best that we just got the leftovers out of our sight, right?!

Of course, now that we’ve advanced to solid foods (yay grown ups!), we are trying our best to keep things on the lighter side. Juicing was not only a great way to get rid of a lot of toxin buildup, but it was also a good kickstart to some better eating around these parts. Don’t get me wrong – we’ll still be eating butter, heavy cream, cheese, and our fair share of red meat around here, but hopefully just a little bit less than we have the past few months.

The tacos you see here were eaten the night before and the night after three endless days of nothing but juice our wonderful, exhilarating detox. They were inspired by Joy the Baker’s recent post, primarily because I had everything on hand but the sweet potatoes. Her recipe also included a crunchy component, a cabbage slaw, which is certainly a great idea. I was in no mood to have extra food lying around, so I skipped it. But seriously, crunch is always welcome in a taco, so feel free to add something similar if you’re feeling the need.

As for me, I gotta say – these tacos were great, easy to throw together, and perfect for pre- and post-detox requirements, but this week, I’m ready to have something with actual meat in it. Hallelujah.

ps – if you live in the Bay Area and wanna give the juice detox a try, use Juice to You. They use organic, local veggies and reusable glass jars – super duper green! Outside of the Bay Area? Try BluePrintCleanse, the national company that ships it to ya like nobody’s business.

 

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos
inspired by  Joy the Baker; makes 8 hefty tacos

time commitment: ~45 minutes (most inactive)

printable version

ingredients
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 T + 1 t olive oil
salt and pepper
1 t chipotle chile powder
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
8 corn tortillas, warmed in the oven
1 T cilantro, plus more for garnishing
lime juice, for garnish

instructions 
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Toss the sweet potato with 2 T olive oil, salt and pepper, chipotle chile powder, and cumin onto a baking sheet and bake for ~30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a medium skillet and toss in the onion. Saute on medium for about 5 minutes, until soft, and toss in the garlic for another minute. Then add the black beans and cook until heated throughout. Meanwhile, get the tortillas heated up in the oven. Once the black beans are heated, mix in a tablespoon of cilantro and then dump the beans and sweet potatoes into a bowl together.

Finish off with cilantro and lime juice, then scoop into corn tortillas.

A Wise Choice

Hopefully, my good friend Jon doesn’t read my blog. Of course, he’s not one to get embarassed easily, so I doubt he’d mind that I’m about to make fun of him anyway.

I’ve tried to avoid it, but for some reason I can’t shake thinking of him every time I open a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Here’s why:

Jon, bless his heart, is an avid Iron-Chef-er-but-never-winner. Yes, he watches the TV show, but I’m referring to the cooking competitions we had back in the day when I lived in Chicago. I think he enjoys the hanging-out more than the competing anyway, but nonetheless he makes a concerted effort to make something that’s tasty. And while he never admits it, he’s actually a pretty good cook who knows a helluva lot about food.

Unfortunately, Jon has a running record of being in the bottom 3 more often than any other competitor. He even started taking pride in it; I think he knew his food was good, and the reason he probably did so poorly was the lack of visual appeal. If I took a picture of every dish he’s made, I guarantee they’d all be housed atop a blue plate with few or no garnishes. His last dish in March was no exception.

But! It wasn’t what he entered into the competition that brought me to tears of laughter (well, and agony…), it was what he tried to make and fortunately tossed into garbage. He had this great idea for Battle Plantains (note that blue dish in the last picture, bottom left!) that involved some sort of plantain-chipotle-saucey-thingie, and in theory it didn’t sound like it could possibly go wrong. Of course, the exception to that supposed theory would be when said competitor loads somewhere between a half and a full CAN of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce into a blender with a couple of plantains. Despite multiple attempts to save the goopy mess, there was no retaliation; the chipotles won fair and square and for a short period of time, I thought I wasn’t going to get the taste out of my mouth.

Luckily, after a few minutes the taste was gone, and after a few weeks I was able to think positively about chipotle peppers again. (ps – yes, I am exaggerating, a little.) I found a recipe from way back when I wrote on recipe cards rather than online that consisted of a potato salad of sorts – a baked sweet potato, opened up, loaded with a shredded chicken salad that’s been tossed in a chipotle pepper vinaigrette. Apparently, it’s not only scrumptious, but it’s healthy too. And while I do tend to go a little on the heavy side when it comes to the chipotle pepper measuring, this time I thought of Jon throwing his dish into the trash, and I cut it back a bit.

It was a wise choice; a wise choice indeed.

Mexican Chicken Salad over Baked Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from Weight Watchers years ago, serves 4

time commitment: 1 hour (20 minutes active)

printable version

ingredients
4 medium sweet potatoes
1 T + 2t olive oil, divided
1 lb chicken breast
1 medium red onion, sliced into thin half moons
1/4 cilantro, chopped
1 T chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T fresh lime juice
1 T water
1/2 t sugar
salt and pepper

instructions
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place potatoes on rack in middle of oven and bake until tender, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet and add 1 T olive oil. Cook chicken, set aside, and cool. When cool enough to touch, pull chicken into shreds. Put chicken, onion and cilantro in a medium bowl; set aside.

Put chipotle pepper through sugar in blender container or bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over chicken mixture and toss to coat.

Cut a slit in each potato and top each with a heaping 3/4 cup of chicken mixture.

About that time

So what do you guys think about when November hits? Thanksgiving isn’t the answer I’m looking for here.

Christmas shopping isn’t either. I mean for realz – who shops in November?! I totally wait until December. The middle of December, if I’m lucky. Well, if you’re lucky, if you’re on my list ….

What I think about, is that it’s gettin’ ready to be time to hibernate. It’s almost time to put the bike away (although this is my first Fall/Winter biking to work, so I don’t know how long I’ll make it, really), and time to walk from the train to work so fast that my butt shakes (which really, it doesn’t take much).

Speaking of butts, and of hibernating, it’s about time for a few months of comfort food. To me, that means squash, sweet potatoes, and pasta. Soup never hurt anyone either.

Yes, it’s about that time. And thanks be to the CSA (& Costco), I happened to have all of that lying around this weekend, which was the exact same time I located a recipe from a couple of years back, one I’d absolutely forgotten about.

I’ve been eating this all. week. long. And I haven’t complained a bit.

A vegetarian treat, the squash & potatoes have that perfect amount of sweetness, and a gooey enough consistency to seem saucy. When the dish comes together, you hear that squishy sound – that of the pasta and the rest of the mixture blending together, sauce nuzzling itself into the twists and turns and holes of the pasta – hibernating. It tastes like the week before Thanksgiving, no matter when you eat it, and the cheese and walnuts are a perfect contrast in terms of both taste and texture.

Yes, it’s about that time. Time to eat that last plate of this almost-empty casserole dish. Time to cozy up on the couch, preparing for that everlasting, but somehow not so horrible, season of hibernation. Time to indulge, and to put off that Christmas shopping for a few more weeks. Oh, November – you are too good to hate. It’s about time I give in, I think.

Baked Pasta w/ Squash & Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from Weight Watchers online, 2 years ago; serves 6-8

time commitment: 1 hour, 15 minutes; 45 minutes active time

yes, Weight Watchers! it totally doesn’t taste as healthy as it is. You can probably use any squash/sweet potato combo here (last time I made this, two years ago, I used butternut only).

printable version

ingredients
1 lb delicata squash, peeled and cubed (1″ pieces)
3/4 lb sweet potato, peeled and cubed (1″ pieces)
12 oz uncooked whole wheat penne/rotini
1 1/4 c skim milk
2 T ap flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 T fresh thyme, divided
1/2 c part skim ricotto cheese
1/3 c Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 c chopped walnuts

instructions
preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. place squash and sweet potato cubes on prepared baking sheet; roast until tender, about 30-45 minutes.

meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. After squash has been roasting for about 10 minutes, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

in the pot where the pasta was cooked, whisk together milk, flour, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in squash and 2 1/2 teaspoons of thyme; mash until squash is incorporated with the sauce. Add pasta to the sauce; toss to mix and coat.

transfer pasta mixture to baking dish; dot with spoonfuls of ricotta and then sprinkle with Parmesan and walnuts. Bake until top is lightly browned in a few spots, about 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.

Battle Cinnamon: Warm & Toasty

Acutely comforting, cinnamon has always been a favorite spice of mine. Could it be because there is generally a direct correlation between the smell of it and the nearby gratification that is eating a cinnamon roll, or an apple pie, or perhaps a hearty stew? Probably. But no matter the reason, my eyes lit up when I opened the attachment describing this month’s Iron Chef theme ingredient.

It wasn’t long before I had my two dishes chosen; for once, I didn’t vacillate, which historically, is customary for me moments before setting foot in the grocery store.

Amidst watching the Olympic games, listening to Emily’s impressive iTunes playlist that eerily seemed as if we had chosen the music from our own library of tunes, and chatting about blogging, Anton Ohno’s ‘soul patch’ and Lindsey Vonn’s creepishly long eyebrows, we ate our way through 12 dishes, most of which are pictured below (minus the cinnamon horchata).


[Dishes, from left to right and down: cinnamon lime chicken fajitas, cinnamon raspberry cupcakes, cinnamon and goat cheese dumplings, cinnamon toast crunch and white chocolate cookies, cinnamon biscuits with cinnamon pear butter, cinnamon roasted vegetables with chickpeas and quinoa, roasted cinnamon-chile sweet pototoes, cinnamon-peanut butter cups, and cinnamon rice pudding with cinnamon roasted bananas]

Despite the somewhat fuzzy picture quality, all dishes were gorgeous and tasted even better. I made a (surprise) Moroccan lamb stew and some cinnamon buttermilk biscuits n’ pear butter. My favorites of the night? The cinnamon ice cream, Jenn’s quinoa dish, and Hope’s dumplings (even though she was saddened by how they turned out, I thought they were mighty fine). My fellow blogger and buddy Emily pulled through with the win, bringing a creamy, rich, and smooth cinnamon ice cream to the table; the cinnamon roasted pe-cans may have sealed the deal. It seems ice cream is the way to go, as it’s won 3 of the 9 battles (this, my basil ice cream, and Jim’s peppercorn custard).

The top three (pictured below):

1. Emily’s Cinnamon Ice Cream with Cinnamon-Roasted Pecans
2. Christina’s Cinnamon-Lime Chicken Fajitas
3. my Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Caramelized Onions 

Battle 10 will mark our Iron Chef anniversary! Hard to believe a year of battles has gone by, but it’s definitely been fun. And Emily claims to already have the ingredient picked out – but if she’s like the rest of us past winners, it will change 25-50 times before next month!

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, & Caramelized Onions
Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2008; serves 6

printable version

ingredients
6 c Vidalia onions, thinly sliced (~ 2 lbs)
2 lbs bone leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 c beef stock
2 cinnamon sticks
2 t g cinnamon
1 t salt
1 t g black pepper
1 t g ginger
1/8 t crumbled saffron threads
4 chopped plum tomatoes
1 peeled and chopped sweet potato
4 T chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
2 T olive oil

instructions
Combine 2 c onions, lamb, and 2 c broth in heavy large pot. Add cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, salt, pepper, ginger, and saffron; bring to boil over medium-high heat. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently 1 1/2 hours. Add tomatoes, sweet potato, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Continue to simmer, partially covered, until lamb is tender, sweet potatoes soften, and juices thicken, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove cinnamon sticks. If mixture is more watery than desired, turn heat up to high and reduce broth, which will further concentrate flavor of stew.

Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add remaining 4 c onions. Sauté until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onions are deep brown, stirring often, about 45 minutes. Cool, cover. (Rewarm prior to topping stew)

Transfer lamb stew to large shallow bowl. Scatter caramelized onions and remaining 2 tablespoons parsley over.

I Did it All for the Gnocchi

sweet potato gnocchi

Someone please tell me that I’m not the only person in this world to remember, to vividly remember, Limp Bizkit. Please… You don’t have to tell me they were your favorite band of the 90’s – well – if you did you’d be lying anyway because that answer should be someone like Pearl Jam or Nirvana or Red Hot Chili Peppers. Just tell me you remember them, if only just barely.

Sometimes I worry that I’m actually stuck in the 90’s. I remember telling my sister she was stuck in the 80’s – I still tell her that, particularly when she ‘facebooks’ (yes, a verb!) her account of the recent Def Leppard show at Walnut Creek. The 80’s were cool and all, but I prefer the 90’s, especially in terms of music. Don’t get me wrong – I love Wilco, Ryan Adams, the Killers, and so on. But most days I’d prefer PJ or RHCP, even Blind Melon, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, or a little Alanis Morissette and Lauren Hill.

gnocchi dough


I could also be just fine if I could wear my dad’s old flannel shirts and curduroy pants every day. I’d love to work 40 hours a week selling Siamese fighting fish at Walmart rather than racking my brain about someone’s family history.  I wish (sometimes) that weekends only meant one thing: the beach. I’d like my excitement of the day to be looking forward to what was going to be in my Happy Meal, and I’d be pretty content vacillating between sweet and sour sauce or honey mustard on my fries, fries cooked in trans fat of course.

But I suppose change is good. In most cases. Sure, my job now pays more than my high school job at Walmart, and my pants have less holes in them and usually no frays at the bottom. And the fries at Mickey-D’s are healthier (if that word can be used in the same sentence as McDonalds..).  I grew out of my Lenny Kravitz infatuation, and I took my eyebrow ring out a loooooong time ago. Also, I don’t listen to Limp Bizkit anymore. I don’t know – I think they were just too angry for my liking.

cut gnocchi


But I love that song “Nookie”, and every time I hear the word “gnocchi” that song comes into my head. Hence the rambling….

…. but I’ll stop that and slap myself back into November (eeps!) 2009. Where was I, anyway? Gnocchi. Yes, gnocchi.

brown butter sage sauce


Gnocchi cooked and tossed in a brown butter sage sauce. That is, soft, pillowy, morsels of creamy potatoey goodness infused with aromatic sprigs of sage cooked in sweet, nutty brown butter.


No matter how you choose to pronounce it, you just can’t beat the taste of it. And the versatility. And honestly, the ease of making it. Bake potatoes, mix with flour and egg, roll into strands, cut and cook. 


gnocchi close-up


“nyo kee”, if you insist.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Adapted from multiple sources; serves 4-6

printable recipe

ingredients
1 1/4 lb russet potatoes (~2 medium)
1 lb sweet potato (1 large)
1 large egg
1/2 t salt
1/2 t fresh grated nutmeg
1/3 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (plus more for serving)
1 1/2 c ap flour (plus more for dusting)
4 T unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
10 small fresh sage leaves
fresh ground black pepper

special equipment: potato masher, ricer, or food mill

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Pierce potatoes with fork, bake on sheet pan for about 1 hour. Cool slightly, then peel and use special equipment above to mash. Let cool completely on sheet pan.
  3. Lightly flour clean surface. Beat together egg, salt, nutmeg, and 1/2 t pepper in small bowl.  Gather cooled potatoes into a mound on lightly floured surface. Make a well in the middle and add egg mixture. Knead into potatoes (will be very sticky). Knead in cheese and 1 cup of flour, adding more as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Dust top lightly with flour.
  4. Cut dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece out into a 1/2″ thick rope and cut rope into 1/2″ long pieces. (Will have to continuously dust surface to keep from sticking). Place cut gnocchi on sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Repeat with remaining 5 pieces. Meanwhile, bring water to boil in large pot.
  6. Cook gnocchi in 2-3 batches. Cook about 3 minutes, or until gnocchi rise to the surface. Transfer to plate with slotted spoon.
  7. Meanwhile, heat butter and sage leaves in a medium skillet. Let butter cook about 3 minutes, until fragrant and nutty. Once gnocchi is finished cooking (all batches), add all to the skillet and mix into the butter sauce.
  8. Sprinkle gnocchi with fresh parmigiano-reggiano cheese and fresh cracked pepper.



Gnocchi variation: Russet potato – Use all russet potatoes (2 lbs); Carrot-Potato – use 2 lbs russet potatoes and 1/2 c carrot puree and ~2 T more flour

Sauce variation: Parmigiano-Reggiano cream sauce – simmer 3/4 c heavy cream for 2 minutes. add gnocchi and 1/4 c P-R cheese and cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minutes.