Pumpkin Gnocchi with Beer-Can Chicken and White Wine Herb Sauce

I am so excited to share this recipe with you!!  We made this last night for dinner, and it was a perfect fall Sunday meal!  We cooked this idea up (pun intended) while driving home from Virginia Beach yesterday morning after attending one of my best friends' amazing wedding!  Mr H.P and I tend to pass the time in the car by creating new recipes to try for dinner, and this one did not disappoint!  (I also think up new recipes while running... I get bored, what can I say?!) 

Anyway, I say this recipe is a good Sunday recipe because it does take some prep work.  But, if you have someone to help you in the kitchen, it does not take long at all.  Mr. H.P was in charge of the chicken, and I made the gnocchi and sauce, so it took us about an hour active cooking time total.  However, if you are the only one cooking this dinner, feel free to forego the Beer-Can Chicken and substitute grilled chicken breast or even a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  We did love how tender and moist the beer-can chicken was in this meal though, so if you have time, by all means go for it!

Beer-Can Chicken
1 whole roaster chicken (about 3 lbs)
2 tablespoons chipotles in adobo sauce
1 large handful of fresh herbs (we used sage, thyme, and scallions)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 12oz can of beer
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

(This made a pretty large batch for just the 2 of us, so we ended up freezing about half of the gnocchi for a quick weekday meal)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups flour

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups good vegetable stock
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper

First, prepare the chicken.  Preheat your grill or oven to 350 degrees F.  Rinse the chicken with water and clean out the inside.  Combine the chipotle, herbs, and olive oil in a food processor and puree.  Season with salt and pepper.  Rub the mixture all over the outside of the chicken.  Carefully cut the top off a can of beer using a can opener.  Pour about 1/3 of the beer out, and place the chopped garlic inside the beer can.  Carefully place the chicken over top of the can of beer.  (We now have a beer-can chicken stand, such as this one, which is helpful, but not necessary.)  We then place the chicken and can combo on a pan to cook so all of the juices don't make such a mess!   We cooked the chicken on the grill for 90 minutes, until the juices ran clear (Oven and grill cooking times should be about the same).  We also sprayed the chicken with cooking spray every 30 minutes to get a nice crisp skin.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the gnocchi.  Combine the pumpkin, ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, nutmeg, salt, pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon in a bowl and stir well to combine.  Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring only until combined.  Do not over-stir.  The dough should be smooth and dry enough to roll out, but you want to use as little flour as possible so the gnocchi stay soft and pillowy.  Add more flour 1/4 cup at a time if needed.

Separate the the gnocchi dough into 4 equal portions, and using your hands, roll out each piece into a long rope. 

Cut the rope into equal-sized pieces and shape the gnocchi using the back of a fork.  (This was the hardest part for me. Just do the best you can. Ideally, you just want to have ridges on the gnocchi to help hold the sauce.)  Flour your working surface and fork as needed to prevent sticking. 

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a little olive oil and salt to the boiling water.  Cook the gnocchi in batches -- you don't want to overcrowd the pot.  After about 1 minute when the gnocchi float to the top, they are cooked.  Remove the cooked gnocchi from the pot and drain.  Drizzle with a little olive oil to keep from sticking while you complete the remaining batches.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan over medium-high heat.  Add the flour and cook until combined.  Then add the white wine and vegetable stock and let reduce for about 20 minutes until it is the consistency of a light gravy.  Stir occasionally.  Add the sage and thyme leaves during the last few minutes of cooking, and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Carve the chicken and gently shred the larger pieces into more bite-sized pieces.  Combine the chicken and gnocchi in the pan with the sauce and stir to combine.  Serve with more grated Parmesan and fresh sage on top if desired. 

Hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did!