Monday, March 8, 2010
Somewhere in my past, I got off to a bad start with sweet potatoes. This is no great surprise: after all, I got off to a bad start with a lot of vegetables. But unlike with most other vegetables, I only overcame that bad start recently--as in, a few months ago rather than a few years ago.
And it's silly, isn't it? I don't know if I ever actually tried many sweet potato dishes before before digging in my heels about them. I don't even know what it was (is?) I didn't (don't?) like about them. I just had it in my head that they were... you know... ick.
Well, all that's changed, and I have Wendy to thank for it. The recipe that changed my mind, a sweet potato gnocchi with sage and brown butter, was Wendy's contribution to the inaugural round of the Cross Country Cooking Parade (CCCP) recipe exchange. In the CCCP we each submit one savory and one sweet recipe, we make all eight of the recipes, and we share with each other our thoughts on the recipes and the results.
One of the ideas behind the CCCP is that we'll be encouraged to cook foods that we might be hesitant to try, and I'm thrilled that I'm already benefitting from it. These gnocchi have not only revived my faith in my gnocchi-making abilities, they've sold me on sweet potatoes. Even if this is the only sweet potato dish I ever make, I'll be perfectly content, because I'm not sure how anything else involving sweet potatoes is going to top it. That's probably due at least in part to the fact that they involve a sage brown butter sauce, but really, they made a convert out of me even before I tossed them in the butter.
I suppose they fall under the "time consuming" label, but to be honest, they didn't feel like a lot of work. The sweet potatoes can be roasted a little while ahead of time, and roasting them is no trouble at all if you already have the oven on for, say, baking yourself a buttery, flaky croissant for breakfast. (Seriously, remind me to gush about those croissants in another post and make you all green with envy.)
Once you're to the step of making up the dough, keep a light hand. The less you work the dough, the lighter and more pillowy the gnocchi will turn out, and the broader your smile will be when you finally sit down to eat them. (Or don't sit down, just eat them straight out of the pan in the middle of your kitchen. Who am I to judge?) In my experience--which, granted, has a sample size of only one--the dough is very soft and delicate, and sticky when bare, but not prone to absorbing additional flour. As a result, while you do need some extra flour while you're rolling and forming the gnocchi, you don't have to use a lot. One good dusting should be plenty.
And speaking of plenty, a final note: the recipe calls for boiling the gnocchi for 10 seconds after they float to the top, and says that this should be about 5 minutes. Mine floated after 2 or 3, and, worried that they weren't done yet, I tried to let them cook the full 5 minutes. Big mistake--one that left me with a pot full of disintegrated gnocchi. If they float after 2 minutes, fine, that's plenty. Cook them for a further 10 seconds and get them out of the water. Then bathe them in brown butter and enjoy!