I am the first to admit that my strength’s in the kitchen are centered around the sweet stuff. Last time I cooked fish it was a disaster! But I do try and sometimes I actually succeed and this was definitely one of those times. In the penultimate edition of Gourmet quite a few things caught my eye and have been added to my “to cook” list but this was the first I decided to tackle. I had been wanting to try gnocchi for quite a while both because i’ve never eaten it and wanted to try making it. It also seemed like a perfect autumn dish what with the main ingredients being gnocchi sage and chestnut – cant really get much more on season than that in my mind. I cooked this for my parents and it went down very well, it is definitely going in my “will cook again” selection. The one thing that made this more difficult than it should have been was the fact I don’t have a potato ricer. I decided that rather than buying (even a really cheap) one decided to try and pass the potato through a colander. It took forever and my arm got a great work-out. I will shortly be buying a ricer and would not suggest you try to do as I did, but I strongly encourage you to try this recipe.
1 1/4 lb russet (baking potatoes)
1 (3/4-lb) sweet potato
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for serving
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sage leaves (from 1 bunch)
1/3 cup bottled roasted chestnuts, very thinly sliced with an adjustable-blade slicer or a sharp vegetable peeler
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 450F/232C with a rack in the middle.
2. Pierce the russet and sweet potatoes in several places with a fork, then bake in 4-sided sheet pan until just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and force through ricer into sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely.
3. Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
4. Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl.
5. Gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in the center. Pour egg mixture into well, then knead into potatoes. Knead in the cheese and flour, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Dust top lightly with some of the flour
6. Cut dough into 6 pieces. Form 1 piece of dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rope on a lightly floured surface. Cut rope into 1/2-inch pieces. Gently roll each piece ball and lightly dust with flour. Repeat with remaining flour.
7. Turn a fork over and hold at a 45 degree angle, with tips of tines touching work surface. Working with 1 at a time, roll gnocchi down fork tines, pressing with your thumb, to make ridges on one side. Transfer gnocchi as formed to baking sheets.
8. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmer. Fry the sage leaves in 3 batches, stirring, until they turn just a shade lighter and crisp (they will continue to crisp as they cool) about 30 seconds a batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt.
9. Repeat in the exact same way with the chestnuts, cooking them till golden and crisp for 30 seconds, reserve the oil.
10. Add the butter to the oil with 1/2 tsp salt and cook until golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
11. Add half of the gnocchi to a pasta pot of well-salted water and stir. Cook until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the pan with the sauce. Continue until all the gnocchi is cooked. Heat the gnocchi in the pan over medium heat stirring to coat.
12. Serve sprinkled with fried sage, chestnuts and grated cheese.
Note: Uncooked gnocchi can be frozen (first in 1 layer on a baking sheet then transferred to a sealable bag) up to a month. Do not thaw before cooking.