Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Sardinian Salvation

Gnocchetti Sardi con Pollo, Salvia, Pomodoro e Zucca
Sardinian Gnocchi with Chicken, Sage, Tomato & Pumpkin

On a cold Tuesday evening, tired and worn-out from a long day and needing comfort, freezing cold as I was I delved into my fridge to find my salvation in the form of a hunk o' pumpkin, a humble chicken breast, a few sage leaves and a tube of tomato paste. These, along with a couple of handfuls of little Sardinian gnocchi turned into a delicious supper in but 20 minutes... and that my friends, is was indeed a very good thing!

I decided to boil the chicken breast and the pasta together, so that the broth would gain a richness of flavor- and then used that in turn to make the sauce... a pretty good idea for getting a lot of good flavor into this dish in a short amount of time. You could use the same method to prepare any pasta you may prefer- read on and and find out!

This was so easy to make! I started off by bringing my pasta water to the boil and adding the chicken breast and the gnocchi at the same time. As they do tend to take a full 15 minutes to cook this was fine, but if you decide to use a pasta with a shorter cooking time, I would recommend boiling the chicken for 10 minutes first and adding the pasta when you take the chicken back out. That's right... after 10 minutes, I took out the chicken breast- and brutal as it may sound- banged it a few times with a rolling pin! Yes indeed! I borrowed this method from the Chinese recipe called (funnily enough), "bang-bang chicken", which is usually made from left over chicken, which once banged down flat, can be then plucked apart easily- and that is what I did this evening. This gives a more tender result than dicing or slicing- and is a lot more fun too!

So whilst the gnocchi continued simmering in the chicken broth, I sautéed the chicken pieces with some crushed garlic, grated pumpkin, finely sliced green onion and 2-3 finely chopped
sage leaves. After 3-4 minutes, I then added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, salt, pepper and grated nutmeg, stirred everything together thoroughly and after a minute or so, added the gnocchi, with enough of the broth to cover them. And let them simmer away for the remaining cooking time with the chicken and pumpkin. So, yes, it too about 20 minutes in all, but by that time, all of the broth had reduced down with the tomato to form a rich sauce, with all of the flavor of the sage and chicken. The reason I love these Sardinian gnocchi for this kind of dish, is that they do not overcook- they become silky-smooth tasting and wonderfully bitesome and chewy... as I often like to say- try them... you'll like them! And with a sprinkle of coarsely ground black pepper and grated Parmesan cheese I have no doubt that you will! How about you?

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