Welcome to Comfort Food Week! This week, I have three recipes designed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, even though it might be cold and sad and disgusting outside. Part one is here.
It’s sort of an unspoken secret in the food world that, on a basic level, food that chefs make is better in part because they have the balls not to go light on the fat.
Let me back up. Flavor is essentially made up of three components: fat, salt and acid. There’s an umami factor too, like the flavor found in dried mushrooms, but those are the building blocks. If you dish seems a little tepid, probably something is off in the fat/salt/acid balance — and that’s why adding butter to salty, acidic tomato sauce is a genius call.
The theory here is that home cooks rarely have the temerity to throw a stick of butter into a pan and fry something in it. A chef does, because she knows that extra fat is going to make all of the difference to her dish.
At least, that’s what I told myself when I melted half a stick of butter in a pan to make this dish. There’s nothing wrong with butter, I told myself. Nothing wrong with butter. Fat is good for your brain. And your soul. Clearly.
The gnocchi turned out perfectly, of course, beautiful little pillows of slightly sweet gluten-free pasta with a perfectly crunchy golden outside. The slightly astringent note from the rosemary kept everything from getting too heavy, and the salt in the dough and in the Parmesan cheese balanced everything nicely.
Speaking of which, maybe a little fat will bring balance to your life and diet this week. Winter means not being afraid to stock up a little for the cold times ahead, so long as you’re feeding your body good, nourishing food. So embrace the butter, my friends.
I know it’s cheating a little to use a gluten-free flour mix here, but I intended this recipe to be easy to throw together. Feel free to experiment with other flours if you have the time and inclination. You can also sub in wheat flour if you are not gluten free.
- 1 large sweet potato
- I large egg
- 1 Tbsp freshly minced rosemary
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/4-1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix
- 4 Tbsp butter
- Parmesan cheese and thyme for serving
- Microwave or roast the sweet potato until it is very tender. This will take about six or seven minutes in a microwave, or about an hour to an hour and a half in a 325 degree oven. Once cooked, let cool, then remove from skin and mash very well.
- Put a large pot of water on to boil.
- In a stand mixer, combine the sweet potatoes with the egg and beat until well-combined. Add rosemary and salt. Stir in flour, starting with the lesser amount and adding more just until the dough is not sticky.
- Dump dough out onto a countertop. Divide into eight equal pieces and roll each piece into ropes of dough that are about 1 inch in diameter. Cut ropes into little pieces approximately one inch in length. Press each piece with the tines of a fork.
- By now, your water is probably boiling. Drop gnocchi in in batches. Cook for two to three minutes, or for about a minute and a half after they start floating. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain. If they seem to be very, very sticky, then rinse a bit with cold water. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.
- When all gnocchi are cooked, melt that butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring, until both sides are golden brown.
- Serve with Parmesan cheese and a little fresh thyme sprinkled over the top. Winter is coming.