I hope you and your loved ones had a very Merry Christmas! I can’t believe it has already come and gone. The older I get the more it flies by! And the more I cherish time with family and friends. Sipping wine and singing carols by the crackling fire on the patio. Long, drawn-out dinners full of intriguing conversation. And of course, the reason for it all, celebrating Christ’s birth. What sweet, sweet memories.
This year my older brother elucidated the importance of certain Jones Christmas traditions as he almost burst into tears upon hearing that no, we would not be having Rosie’s tamales for Christmas Eve dinner. (Rosie’s is a restaurant here in Austin known for its tamales. I’ve had better….”but it’s a tradition!”)
So you’re just going to kill a tradition that we have kept for 20 years? What, are we going to stop going to church and watching Christmas Vacation, too?
Ok, perhaps I hyperbolize. But honestly, I just figured a lot of us were sick of tamales already (my dad bought upward of 20 dozen weeks earlier) and they weren’t even that good anyways. They were tired tamales. We needed something fresh and new. So the ladies of the house gave them the boot and I made butternut squash gnocchi with sage brown butter and prosciutto. Damn good. I’m talking melt-in-your-mouth good. Maybe even good enough to replace a diehard tradition? Well, we’ll see about that! ¡Buen provecho!
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Prosciutto and Sage Brown Butter
(Adapted from bonappetit)
Servings: 4-6 as a main course, 8-10 as a side
1 butternut squash (~1 lb) (or 2 cups butternut squash purée)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
~2 cups flour (preferably 00 flour, but all-purpose is ok)
4 thick slices of prosciutto (prosciutto ends) or pancetta, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
8-10 sage leaves (plus more for garnish)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 425. Microwave whole squash for about 2 minutes, flipping halfway, to soften it and make it easier to cut. Cut the top part of (with the stem) and then cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, then rub/brush/drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle salt and pepper. Roast (meat side up) for about an hour (or, better yet, buy it already cut up and cut the time and labor in half). Cool slightly. Scoop the meat into a food processor or blender and purée. If you are using a blender, you might need to add a splash of water to get it going.
Mix squash, egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Gradually add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and then adding more if it is still really sticky. Set out on a floured surface and gently knead for about a minute. You might need to keep adding flour at this point, but be careful not to overwork the dough.
Then, divide into 8 portions and roll out each portion into long, 1/2-inch thick ropes. Cut rope crosswise into 1 inch pieces. Use the back of a fork to make a little imprint, then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate. (This can be done ahead!) Repeat with remaining dough.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet until golden brown. Add sage and turn off the heat. Then, when water boils, cook gnocchi for about 10-12 minutes. Drain, then toss in sage butter. Add chopped prosciutto or pancetta. Top with parmesan. Garnish with fresh sage. Serve hot.