Like many of you, I was upset to hear that Gourmet magazine has been cancelled. I mean, not upset like fetch me a pint of ice cream upset. But upset like, whyyy? Why must the things I like continuously be cancelled? So when I had this bunch of fresh sage and I didn’t know what to do with it, I gave Gourmet.com a whirl, while I still could, and just entered “sage” in the search box. AND THIS IS WHAT IT GAVE ME, because it is a beautiful beautiful magazine that loves me very much and wants me to be happy.
I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never made gnocchi before. I envisioned complicatedness. For the past however many years I’ve been eating gnocchi (with the exception of a handful of times I’ve eaten them at restaurants), they’ve come from the Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle. God bless that aisle. Those gnocchi, simmered in a frying pan for a few minutes and then inhaled completely even though the bag says serves 4 or whatever, used to be my standard. Sure I knew better gnocchi existed, but not in my HOUSE. Better gnocchi was this far off concept, in some stainless steel restaurant kitchen where surely there was a gnocchi-making-machine installed.
I never brought it to the kitch. Which, turns out, was a huge mistake. Huge. Massive mistake. Because gnocchi? They’re the kind of things that can make a girl forget pain. Homemade gnocchi is like medical marijuana. As soon as you have some (i imagine) everything just feels lovely and you don’t remember why it was you thought you were hurting in the first place.
I didn’t even have a potato ricer. I pushed 4 potatoes through a SIEVE. Yes, sieve of Mortal Enemy Sieve. Me and a spatula. We pushed potato flesh. Through a sieve. For about 45 minutes.
I kneaded dough. I rolled out dough into many ropes. I cut out what seemed like millions of pieces of dough. I rolled them into individual balls. I smushed the balls with the tines of a fork. I went through all these PROCESSES. I boiled them. I scooped them out with a spoon. I sauteed them in butter. I grated some cheese over them.
And, oh my god, y’all. These little fluffy pillows of wonder. They’re all I ever need. I am certain that I was put on this earth to eventually figure out how to make these. So thank you, Gourmet, for this most generous going-away present. I owe you. If you still existed I would subscribe to you. But as it is, just know that my hat is off to your general direction. Well played.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Sage and Shaved Chestnuts
from Gourmet, RIP
Serves 6 (main course) to 8 (first course) <-now this is just a lie. it served me thrice. but i guess sometimes i eat like 2 people.
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 omitted the chestnuts, but i’m sure they’re lovely)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
EQUIPMENT: a potato ricer or a food mill fitted with fine disk
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.
Add butter to oil in skillet with 1/2 tsp salt and cook until golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
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.
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.
Chestnuts can be sliced 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
Sauce and topping can be halved; make full recipe of gnocchi and freeze half of it.