Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Sage and Shaved Chestnuts
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2009

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 (I skipped this)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

a potato ricer or a food mill fitted with fine disk

Preparation for gnocchi:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

2. 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. (Maybe you might want to cook the sweet potato a bit longer? Because it’s got more moisture than those starchy russets, so more liquid means doughier gnocchi? I’ll have to experiment, but these are my preliminary thoughts based on one attempt.)

3. Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and force through ricer into sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely. (I did mine with a fork. And in retrospect I think a ricer would have been key.)

4. Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

5. Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl.

6. Gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in center.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Repeat with remaining 5 pieces of dough.

10. 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:

1. 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. (When you first place the leaves into oil, they’ll sizzle and make happy crackling noises, and as they cook, the noises will subside. When you feel like sage has “calmed down” you can fish it out. It’s pretty much done.)

2. 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. (I omitted chestnuts because I wanted to use the fresh ones, but ’tis not yet the season for them. Next time, I promise!)

Make sauce:

1. 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:

1. 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.
2. Heat gnocchi in skillet over medium heat, stirring to coat.
3. Serve sprinkled with fried sage and chestnuts and grated cheese.

Uncooked gnocchi can be frozen (first in 1 layer on a baking sheet, then transferred to a sealable bag) up to 1 month. Do not thaw before cooking. If freezing gnocchi, you might want to half the sauce.

Serves6 (main course) to 8 (first course)

© 2023 Olga Massov