It's official fall has started for me. I know we have over a month before the calender declares it so.
Schools are back in session, the nights and mornings are getting cooler, apples are ripe my garden is almost kaput.
Some of you may not be ready to let go of the beach days, big slices of juice watermelon, iced cold lemonade, the bikini.....
Me I am packing it all away pulling out the turtlenecks and wool socks. Bring it on mother nature this girl is ready for blustery cold mornings, naked trees, and wait for it....... snow.
Because I am so hurriedly trying to push summer out and fall through the door. I have switched cooking modes, no more grilling it's time for slow cooking, anything that requires using an oven, apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkin.
To kick my "fall" season a whole month early. I have had this recipe for sweet potato gnocchi burning a whole in my brain since June when I helped Mary Ann Esposito create a similar dish, for the taping of her show, Ciao Italia at King Arthur Flour.
I was quite excited to have the honor of meeting Mary Ann, be on her show, and get an signed copy of her latest cookbook. I grew up watching Ciao Italia on PBS as a kid, AND she is from NH.... so naturally she's a WICKED awesome person just for that ;)
Gnocchi is almost too easy to make, though making them look nice is a talent. I tend to have fugly looking gnocchi. But who cares if the texture is right and it tastes great right?!
I had never been a huge fan of sweet potatoes but in this dish I absolutely adored it!
The gnocchi paired with the sweet braised chicken and apples was the perfect pair, drizzled the braising liquid over the top of the gnocchi for the perfect amount of sweet/savory then topped the whole dish with fresh sage.
Braised Maple Walnut Chicken and Apples with Sweet Potato Gnocchi
For the chicken:
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into 2-3 inch pieces
2 tbs of olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 cups quality chicken stock ( I use Kitchen Basics when I don't have my own on hand)
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 tbs of corn starch
1 apple peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts ( you can also use pecans )
For the Gnocchi:
1 lb baked sweet potato Cooled
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400.
In a large saute pan add olive oil over medium high heat when it starts to get hot add chicken pieces and sear all sides. Remove chicken from pan (it's ok if it's not cooked through) set aside. Add in cider, syrup and garlic. Bring to a boil. Whisk in corn starch. When it is smooth and thick. Whisk in 1 cup of chicken stock.
Transfer chicken to an oven safe dish with your sliced apples sprinkle with your and pour sauce over the top. Bake for 1 hour. If it seems to need more liquid mix in remaining chicken stock.
Meanwhile, start your gnocchi.
Run potato through food mill or potato ricer. Transfer into a large mixing bowl. Slowly add in flour 1/4 cup at a time working it into the potato using your fingers. When the dough comes together and is no longer sticky divide into 4 pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a long rope about a 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 1/2-1 inch pieces.
Roll each piece over the tines of your fork to create ridges.
Place gnocchi on a baking sheet in one layer until ready to boil.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add in no more than 24 gnocchi at a time. When they rise to the top they are done. Remove gnocchi from water onto a prepared dish.
When the chicken is done plate along side the gnocchi topping with braising sauce/liquids. Top with fresh sage.
(Gnocchi recipe adapted from: Ciao Italia Family Classics written by Mary Ann Esposito)