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Potato Gnocchi with Pancetta in King Oyster & Squash Sauce

I have a bit of a history with gnocchi. It often seems that the two of us don't get along, and the gnocchi started it. Gnocchi, you see, is one of those things that is only good when it's amazing, like a Bloody Mary. (And unless your bloody looks like this, it's just not worth it, am I right?)

When I uncovered Frank's obsession with gnocchi, of course my immediate reaction was to buy a cheaply made ricer and potatoes, then rush home to get started. Let's just say it didn't end well...for the ricer, for my nerves, or for Frank's hope of devouring homemade gnocchi that evening. One $14 busted ricer (are we sensing a theme here?) and 60 cents worth of potatoes later, it was going to be pasta that night instead. Thankfully, my man knew me well enough by then to keep his eyes on the Yankees until dinner was ready rather than glance over at our open kitchen.

Luckily since that evening I've fallen upon a potato-less recipe courtesy of Giada, and it's a perfect meal for summer - lemony, tangy, and all things Giada-y. But we're still waiting for snow to melt outdoors and popsicles to freeze indoors. So it was time to try this potato business again.

Rather than use actual potatoes, I had a bit of potato flour lying around to test out. Somehow I managed to pull together the dough, not dissimiliar to a pasta dough, and quickly rolled out the classic gnocchi shape. The dough was very sticky, and my little guys were lumpy, but Friday was a taxing day and I wasn't about to start over at 10pm.

Onto the sauce. You may have heard that bacon makes everything better. Well, it's true. I'm sure it's even been scientifically proven. But...pancetta also makes everything better! When I asked the guy at the grocery counter for it, he held up the end of a slab, indicating that he would sliver off the herby, salty, who-knows-what-else fatty end. No no, my friend, I'll take it! I want those yummy little bits. I chopped up the pancetta, threw it into a pan with a bit of olive oil to crisp up, then removed from the pan, leaving the oil. A finely diced shallot then went in along with the cubed butternut squash. Seasoned with salt and pepper, I left the vegetables to soften and then added in unsalted chicken stock.

Once the stock was absorbed, I temporarily transferred the mixture to a bowl to puree with my hand mixer. Normally I would have left as is and used my hand blender, but we all know what happened to that. Back into the pan, I added a little more stock, chopped king oyster mushrooms, sage and parsley, and more salt and pepper. Just a touch of cream and a couple of leftover pecorino slices from our cheeseboard earlier, this was looking okay.

I had also prepared this salad, and once the gnocchi were boiled, I mixed them into the sauce to coat along with the pancetta. We sat down to eat and Frank very kindly told me the gnocchi were great, but he couldn't fool me. They were fine. Certainly I have room for improvement, but at least this time they arrived on the table in tandem with ingedients that just go so classically well together. Oh, and the salad? Ridiculous! Hazelnuts = my new favorite salad addition.

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