Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi (never again)

When I finally convinced the boy I was dating during my freshman year of college to take me out to a nice dinner, he took me to a pasta restaurant (ew) and ordered gnocchi. We broke up a week later. I have had very few positive experiences with the petite potato pillows since. However, after salivating over the sweet potato with fried sage from the penultimate Gourmet Magazine, I was determined to give it a whirl…I mean they made it look so good.

The opportunity presented itself in Telluride, Colorado, where I found myself spending new years with some very old and dear friends. My fellow food-loving friend Isabel and I decided to make a new years fest for the families and the gnocchi were to be the star. We also made Mama Agata’s “famous lemon chicken” which was entirely delicious. Ohh…and a lemon pound cake that kind of fell apart but was quite delicious.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi from Gourmet Magazine

Serves 6

  • 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
  • Equipment:

    a potato ricer or a food mill fitted with fine disk

Make gnocchi:

  • Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.
  • Pierce russet and sweet potatoes in several places with a fork, then bake in a 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.
  • Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
  • Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl.
  • Gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in center.
  • Pour egg mixture into well, then knead into potatoes. Knead in cheese and 11/2 cups flour, then knead, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Dust top lightly with some of flour.
  • 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 into a ball and lightly dust with flour.
  • Repeat with remaining 5 pieces of dough.
  • 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 1 side. Transfer gnocchi as formed to baking sheets.

Fry sage leaves and chestnuts:

  • Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Fry 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 per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt.
  • Fry chestnuts in 3 batches, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 30 seconds per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt. Reserve oil in skillet.

Make sauce:

  • Add butter to oil in skillet with 1/2 tsp salt and cook until golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cook gnocchi:

  • Add half of gnocchi to a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water and stir. Cook until they float to surface, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to skillet with butter sauce. Cook remaining gnocchi in same manner, transferring to skillet as cooked.
  • Heat gnocchi in skillet over medium heat, stirring to coat.
  • Serve sprinkled with fried sage and chestnuts and grated cheese.
So…here’s the deal. We didn’t have a food ricer (does anyone?) so I used good old fashioned elbow grease (that’s disgusting by the way) to mash the potatoes. Making the dough took hours…rolling them into balls took forever…and our gnocchi were just plain UGLY. At first taste…well, they tasted like soggy flowered sweet potatoes. I was ready to give up, but Isabel insisted they would be better with butter and sage. Well, she was right! They actually came out really really well (five hours later). And by the way…the chicken was TO DIE FOR!

4 thoughts on “Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi (never again)

  1. If you really fry them hard in butter until they get really brown and crispy on the outside, gnocchi is a totally different animal. Seriously, the crust that forms after a fried (still boiled first – then air dried) gnocchi encounters hot butter or oil is something special. Otherwise gnocchi is doughy sludge. So how you prepare them really makes the difference between perfect texture and the worst texture ever. Try it! Don’t give up on the gnocchi!

  2. I LOVE gnocchi! and sweet potatoes! I have made ricotta gnocchi (same problem, didnt have a ricer so I skipped out on making the potato version until I get one) and was somewhat satisfied but I still think I prefer the potato versions. Yours turned out to be a beautiful dish though! 🙂

  3. Hi, Ally!
    I LOVE gnocchi as well! It’s rather divine…

    I had to chuckle when I read about the potato ricer… Funny enough, I actually do have one! 😀 I also have a food mill, which would work if you don’t have a ricer. Actually it would work better, since you don’t have to peel the potatoes first and you can do more at a time. So, I would recommend one of those over a ricer! Or you can buy both, whichever!! Lol (I am somewhat addicted to all things kitchen… I was at the hospital yesterday, where they were having a book fair, and was immediately stopped in my tracks when I saw cookbooks! I already have an entire bookshelf full of them, but one can never have too much knowledge… ;-))

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