Marc Vetri’s Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter & Crispy Sage

November 24, 2015:

Chef Marc Vetri is the founder of Philadelphia’s critically acclaimed Vetri Family of Restaurants.  A Philadelphia native, Vetri spent his formative professional kitchen life in Bergamo, Italy, working alongside some of the region’s most noted chefs.  In 1998, he opened the fine-dining restaurant, Vetri, to universal acclaim.  Within two years of the restaurant’s debut, he was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs” and received the Philadelphia Inquirer’s highest restaurant rating.  In 2005, he was given the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic.”

Italian Tonda Padana squash is about the size of a basketball and weighs close to 8 pounds.  It’s pretty high in starch and low in water, so it’s great for gnocchi.  If you can’t find Tonda Padana squash, use kabocha squash instead.

 

mastering-pasta random houseMarc Vetri’s Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter & Crispy Sage (Makes 4 to 6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Tonda Padana squash
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (plus some for dusting)
  • 1/4 cup finely crushed amaretti cookies or almond macaroons
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 to 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 3/4 cup grated bagoss, Bitto, Parmesan cheese

 

Instructions:

  1. To make the squash easier to peel, jab the squash all over with a knife (to allow steam to escape), and then microwave it on high power until the skin softens, about 2 minutes.  Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.  Scoop out and discard the seeds and strings, then cut the flesh into 1″ to 2″ chunks.
  2. Put the squash in a heavy pot and add water to a depth of 1/4″.  Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and simmer, covered, until the squash is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  Mash the squash in the pan (or puree it with a handheld blender or in a food processor), and then continue cooking the squash, stirring often to prevent burning, until much of the water evaporates and the puree reduces in volume, about 1 hour.  When it’s done, the squash should be the consistency of a loose dough and thick enough to cling to an upended spoon.
  3. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the puree and reserve the rest for another use.  Transfer the puree to a bowl, let cool slightly, then add the whole eggs, egg yolks, Parmesan, almond flour, cookie crumbs, salt and nutmeg, and mix with a spoon until the dough comes together (it will be loose).  Spoon the dough into a zip-lock bag, seal closed and refrigerate it until it is somewhat firm, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
  4. Snip the corner from the bag and pipe 1″ dollops of the dough into a bowl of almond flour or all-purpose flour.  Scoop up a dollop with floured hands, roll it into a ball, and then place it on a flour rimmed baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  You should have 50 to 60 gnocchi.
  5. Use the gnocchi immediately or cover them loosely and refrigerate them for a few hours.  You can also freeze them in a single layer, transfer them to a zip-lock bag, and freeze them for up to 2 weeks.  Take the gnocchi straight from the freezer to the boiling water, adding about 30 seconds to the cooking time.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Drop in the gnocchi and cover the pot to quickly return the water to a low boil.  Cook the gnocchi until springy to the touch and tender throughout, 3 to 5 minutes.  Squeeze a dumpling between your fingers.  It should have some bounce back.  If it just flattens, the gnocchi are not done yet.
  7. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1/2 cup butter and sage together over medium heat in a small sautee pan until the butter turns golden brown and the sage is crisp, about 7 minutes.
  8. Using a spider strainer, transfer the gnocchi to warmed plates, allowing 10 – 12 gnocchi per serving.  Spooning the brown butter over the gnocchi and sprinkle with the cheese.  Garnish with the crispy sage.

 

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