Alright, follow my logic:
Oyster mushrooms really love butter. Butter really loves sage. Sage is absolute best buddies with sweet potatoes. It therefore stands to reason that a dish containing all of the aforementioned ingredients will be a pretty harmonious eating experience. Its flavour so mighty it may convert someone to liking elements they previously held only in disdain.
Example: My wife hated gnocchi… She despised it with zealous fury since our “red sauce joint” days in East End Vancouver. She tried gnocchi twice (both likely originating from a vacuum-sealed bag) and had swore off the little buggers forever with the comment,”There’s no taste, and the texture… Like slugs!”
She held this opinion up until recently when I – inspired by an obsessively-detailed article on gnocchi making from Lucky Peach – banged out a stellar batch of sweet potato gnocchi featuring the very trinity of flavours discussed above. Despite protests she tried a bit, then a bit more then, holy shiitake! This stuff ‘aint bad! Yes, this is the recipe that exploded my wife’s opinion of little Italian potato dumplings.
Gnocchi making is easy as pasta making, but a tad harder to really master due to some heat and timing quirks inherent in the process. Not a bit of that should bother you though ‘cause I haven’t come close to mastering said process yet and I still make pretty killer gnocchi.
The flavour trinity of oyster mushrooms, sweetie spuds and sage are held together in glorious synchronicity with the help of a liberal amount of butter and garlic-flavoured oil. If you’re not a fan of the greasy elements, don’t stress, most of it is reserved and what remains is well balanced by the starchiness of the gnocchi.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Oyster Mushrooms and Sage (Serves 4-6)
- ½ Large Sweet Potato (425g total, split in half, skin on)
- 2 Garlic Cloves (2g)
- 1 oz. (30 ml) Olive Oil
- 2 cups (225g) All Purpose Flour
- ½ Small Container of Ricotta Cheese (120g, drained)
- 1 ½ Tbls. (20g) Parmesan Cheese
- ½ Tbls (8g) Brown Sugar
- Salt, Pepper and a damn small pinch of Nutmeg
- 1 Tsp. (15g) Butter
- 1 Large Handfull of Fresh Sage Leaves (only about 4g in total, washed, stems removed)
- ½ Large Shallot (40g, finely diced)
- 2 ½ oz. (70g) Oyster Mushrooms
Method (Pre-heat your oven to 175˚C aka 350˚F)
- Pop the sweet potatoes into a heatproof pan and fire it into the oven for an hour, skin side-down. Take another heatproof pan (this one much smaller) and pop in the garlic cloves. Pour the oil over top and fire this one into the oven as well for about ½ hour or until the garlic has browned and the kitchen smells amazing. Set the garlic and oil aside to cool, but start work on the spuds while they are hot!
- Grab a cloth to protect your hands and get scoopin! Use either a spoon or fork and get all the flesh out of those spuds and plop ‘em into a ricer or potato mill. Squidge all that sweet potato through the finest little holes you can find (perforated steam pan instead of a ricer?) and lay it all out in a single layer on a baking pan to cool for about ten minutes.
- Now you can either do it the oldschool way from here on and just use your hands to gather, mix and knead the dough, or you can do what I did and use a mixer with a dough hook (sorry obsessive Lucky Peach guy!) it works quite well! Add the potato, ricotta, Parmesan, sugar, seasonings and ¼ of the flour to the mixing bowl and start it up on low speed. Incorporate the remaining flour in batches until a soft, smooth dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into three roughly-equal pieces. I find it’s very helpful from this point on to have a “Bench Knife” or scraper around to cut dough and gather up any nomadic flour. Roll the pieces of dough between the work surface and your palms until they form little tubes. Carefully stretch that tube into long ropes about ¼ inch thick. They should look like orange, uncooked grissini. Use your bench knife to snip off ½ inch little pillows and pile them on a floured baking pan.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop in your gnocchi. Give ‘em a stir and come back in five minutes to pull them out. Meanwhile pour a bit of the oil that you used to cook the garlic into a thick-bottomed sauté pan with the butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter has stopped fizzing add the sage in batches to the hot pan. They should crackle right away and within a minute turn bright green (or purple) and crispy. Carefully flip ‘em, sear ’em and get them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and onto a waiting piece of paper towel.
- Add the shallots, mushrooms and chopped garlic to the hot garlicky-sage butter and sauté on medium heat for two minutes. Get the gnocchi out of the boiling water, drain it and fire it directly into the hot sauté pan with the rest of the party. Keep it cooking on medium heat for four minutes and serve. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, black pepper and crispy sage leaves.
Music To Cook This To:
Esperanza Spalding – Radio Music Society