So last time, we stopped here:

Butternut squash gnocchi

It is time we finish what we started.  And when we’re done, we’ll have this:

Butternut squash gnocchi

As I had mentioned in my previous post, this dish was inspired by the butternut squash gnocchi I had for dinner at Parish Foods and Goods.  Since we have our butternut squash gnocchi ready, now we can start on the next part of our dish: the pork meatballs and the brown butter sauce.  Along with the meatballs, this dish had shreds of kale.  For garnish, we will use the seeds we scooped from the squashes – toasted and seasoned with some heat.

For the toasted butternut squash seeds:

Rinsing butternut squash seeds

Rinse off the butternut squash seeds and remove all the flesh left over from when you scooped them from the butternut squash.

Drying butternut squash seeds

Preheat the oven at 375F.  Place the seeds on a baking sheet and bake them in the oven for about 10 minutes to dry them up.

Olive oil to seeds

Remove them from the oven.  To the seeds add some olive oil, and then coat them with the following spices:

Seasoning butternut squash seeds

Chili powder, red cayenne pepper, ground cumin, and salt.  Stir them to coat all the seeds with the spices.  How much of these spices should you add?  This will really depend on your taste and your tolerance to heat – in the case of the cayenne pepper.  The bottom line is, you want to ensure all the seeds are coated with the spices.

Toasted butternut squash seeds

Put the seeds back in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring and rotating the pan after 10 minutes.  Once toasted, remove from the oven and set aside.

For the pork meatballs:

Soaking bread for meatballs

In order to keep the meatballs soft and moist, soak two pieces of bread, crusts removed, in some milk.  I used wheat bread, but white bread also works.  How much milk?  Enough for the bread to soak it up until it becomes mushy; I say about 2-3 tablespoons.  Set aside.

Pork meat for meatballs

In in a large bowl, add 1.5 lbs of ground pork meat, and add the soaked bread.

Seasoning ground pork for meatballs

Now we need to season the meat.  Add 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper, about 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, a generous pinch of salt, followed by 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese, and 1 whole egg.

Mixing in ground pork

With your hands incorporate all the ingredients.

I decided to bake the meatballs in the oven.  First, I needed to taste them and make sure they had enough seasoning.  How do you do this without eating raw meat?

Testing patty

Make a teeny, weeny patty and fry it up in some oil.  Once cooked, taste and adjust for seasoning.

Baking pork meatballs

Now that you know your meatballs will be delicious, you can go ahead and make the meatballs.  Roll some meat between the palm of your hands, and form meatballs the size of golf balls.

Bake them in a 400F degree oven for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Set aside.

While you bake the meatballs, we will get our kale ready.

For the kale:

Prepping kale

Rinse off the kale to get rid of any dirt.  Remove the thick stem: cut along both sides of the stem so you are left with the leafy greens.

Roughly chopped kale

Roughly chop the kale and put the leaves in a bowl.

Salting and massaging kale to remove bitterness

Sprinkle a hefty amount of salt and massage the kale to get rid of some of the bitterness.

Rinse off to remove the excess salt.  Set aside.

For the Brown Butter Sauce:

Melting butter for sauce

In a large skillet, melt 2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in low heat.  Low is the key; too hot and you will burn the butter.  The skillet should be large enough to hold the meatballs, the gnocchi and the kale.

Adding minced garlic

While the butter is melting, mince 2 cloves of garlic and add them to the butter.

Browning butter and garlic

With a wooden spoon stir the butter and garlic and allow it to melt until the butter achieves a golden tone.  This happens rather quickly, so keep an eye on this.  Don’t forget to always keep the temp on low.

Brown butter sauce

Once we get to the brown stage, add 2 cups of chicken stock to deglaze the pan.  Season with a bit of salt if necessary.

And like that, your brown butter sauce is done.

Putting it all together:

Adding kale to brown butter sauce

Turn the heat up slightly.  To the sauce, add all the roughly chopped kale, and stir to coat.

Adding gnocchi to brown butter sauce

Add 3-4 cups of cooked butternut squash gnocchi and stir.

Adding pork meatballs to brown butter sauce

Add the meatballs and stir one more time to incorporate all the flavors and to warm up all the ingredients.

Butternut squash gnocchi with pork meatballs, kale and brown butter sauce

Serve with the spiced butternut squash seeds as garnish, along with some grated parmesan cheese.

Butternut squash gnocchi with pork meatballs, kale and brown butter sauce, a perfect combination of flavors and textures.  You have the sweetness from the butternut squash and the pork; the savory and nutty flavor from the brown butter sauce; and the crunchy and heat factor from the toasted butternut squash seeds.  ¡Muy delicioso!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Pork Meatballs and Brown Butter Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups cooked butternut squash gnocchi
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • For the butternut squash seeds:
  • Seeds scooped from butternut squashes
  • Olive oil
  • Chili powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • For the pork meatballs:
  • 1.5 lbs ground pork
  • 2 slices of bread, crusts removed
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • For the brown butter sauce:
  • 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups no salt added/low sodium chicken stock
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

    For the butternut squash seeds:
  1. Preheat the oven at 375F.
  2. Rinse off the seeds and remove any flesh and strands left from the butternut squashes.
  3. Place the seeds on a baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes to dry them up.
  4. Remove the seeds from the oven and coat them with olive oil and season with the remaining spices.
  5. Place them in the oven for 20 minutes, rotating and stirring after 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  7. For the pork meatballs:
  8. Soak the pieces of bread in the milk until mushy.
  9. In a bowl, add the ground pork and the soaked bread.
  10. Season with the pepper, nutmeg, salt and parmesan cheese. Add the egg.
  11. With your hands, incorporate all the ingredients into the meat.
  12. To test for seasoning, form a small patty and pan fry in some oil. Adjust for seasoning if necessary.
  13. Form meatballs the size of golf balls and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake in a 400F oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Set aside
  14. For the kale:
  15. Rinse the kale to remove dirt.
  16. Remove the stalks by cutting along the stalk. Roughly chop the leaves and place them in a bowl.
  17. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and massage the kale until wilted. This will remove some of the bitterness.
  18. Rinse off the excess salt from the leaves and set aside.
  19. For the brown butter sauce:
  20. In a large skillet on low heat, melt 2-3 tbsp of unsalted butter.
  21. Add the minced garlic and stir to coat.
  22. Continue cooking in low heat until the butter begins to turn golden brown.
  23. Immediately, add the chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Season with salt if necessary.
  24. Assembling the dish:
  25. Slightly increase the temperature of the skillet. Add the kale to the brown butter sauce and stir until coated.
  26. Add the cooked gnocchi and the meatballs. Still until all the ingredients are incorporated and warmed up.
  27. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and toasted butternut squash seeds.
http://www.tstastybits.com/2012/01/butternut-squash-gnocchi-with-pork-meatballs-kale-and-brown-butter-sauce/