Today we will be making a Ricotta Spinach Gnocchi with Chicken Thighs and a Spinach, Pine Nut Brown Butter with Lemon Sauce. A truly delicious meal that the whole family will love.
Before we get started, assemble your “Mise En Place” (french term for Putting in Place). Get all the ingredients you need measured out and chopped/prepped before you start cooking. This is something that is great to get in the habit of always doing when you are cooking so that you are not scrambling to find something and inadvertently ruin what you are making or realize that you are out of something too late.
This is what you need:
2 Bags of Baby Spinach (approx 20 oz)
1 16 oz Container of Ricotta Cheese
2 Cups Shredded Fresh Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Tsp Salt (I use Sea Salt)
1 Large Egg, Lightly Beaten
1 3/4 Cups Flour
1/4 Tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
4 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
4 Tbsp Olive oil
6 Tbsp Butter
Zest of 1 Lemon (zest before you juice)
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
1/2 Cup Pine Nuts
1 Cup Chicken Stock or Broth
1 Thinly Sliced Shallot
Tools to have ready:
Have a large pot of salted water coming to boil on stove.
2 Large sauté pans ready to go.
Cookie sheet, lightly floured.
Cookie sheet, clean.
Slotted spoon, skimming tool or strainer.
So, with mise en place:
First thing we need to do is steam some spinach. You can either steam on stove using a steamer basket and boiling water or place spinach in a microwave dish covered with a dishtowel to accomplish this. Use one bag spinach which will yield about 3/4 cup when steamed. Place steamed spinach into the center of a clean dishtowel and very carefully twist to wring out all the water. Careful as it will be hot! Next, chop and set aside.
In a medium size bowl place the beaten egg, ricotta, 1 1/2 cup parmesan, chopped cooked spinach, salt, 1 tsp Buon Appetito Italian Seasoning and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Mix gently until thoroughly blended. Now add the flour and mix gently until the soft dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out on your floured counter top and work/knead in a little flour so the dough is not sticky. DO NOT OVERWORK as this will make our gnocchi really tough, not tender!
Cut the dough in half and each half into four pieces. Leaving you with eight total pieces. One piece at a time, roll out into a evenly distributed rope about a foot long. Using a non-serrated, knife cut into one-inch pieces. Sprinkle flour on the cut pieces and place on cookie sheet. You can now use a fork to make the indentations with the tines, or use your thumb. Neither is necessary but either make the gnocchi look pretty and gives the sauce a little something extra to cling to!
Gently shake off any excess flour and boil gnocchi gently in batches, careful not to overcrowd the pan, for 2-4 minutes until they float to the top. Using your slotted spoon remove and set aside on a clean cookie sheet. Repeat.
Add the olive oil to one of your sauté pans and heat to medium low. Season your chicken thighs on both sides with Buon Appetito Italian Seasoning and place in pan and cook for 6-8 minutes on each side always using a meat thermometer ensuring that it is cooked to 165º. Set aside to rest.
While gnocchi is boiling, heat the butter in your other sauté pan over medium heat until it is a light brown, add the pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice and cook for another minute. Keep a very close eye on the colors of the pine nuts and the butter because it can go from beautifully brown to burned very quickly if you are not careful. Remove browned butter and nuts in a small bowl and set aside.
Add a little of the set aside butter sauce back into the sauté pan and brown the gnocchi over medium heat about 3-4 minutes per side. Place in bowl and set aside, repeat with the remaining gnocchi.
In the same pan you just browned gnocchi, keep on medium heat and add the remaining brown butter with the pine nuts, broth, shallots and remainder of fresh spinach. Using your tongs toss this mixture as it is cooking so that the spinach wilts and cooks down. This should take 3-4 minutes. Add browned gnocchi and remaining parmesan cheese and toss again. Ready to go!
Slice the chicken and serve on the side of the gnocchi and enjoy!