My story with gnocchi begins a couple years back. As I was watching my way through the Good Eats series, I was intriguted by these little dumplings that Alton was making from potatoes and butternut squash. Being someone who did not eat squash before it was pretty bold to give this recipe a go. I did and it became an instant classic in our family. Every fall we make up several batches, freezing some for later enjoyment. The butternut squash worked so well, why not try another vegetable. I have seen a lot of people make gnocchi out of sweet potatoes. That was something I really desired to try. Except I didn't really want to use just any old sweet potato - I wanted to use the Stokes Purple Sweet Potato. Just the excitement about creating something with such vivid color was enough, using the best sweet potato this family has ever had was enough put this idea at the top of my to do list.
I like these sweets because they are not sweet. The purple color means tons of good things for our bodies. They also tend to be drier than other sweet potato varieties which makes this the dough for gnocchi easier to deal with. If your potatoes are really moist that just means you will need to add more and more flour. Stokes Purple are grown in California (Frieda's) and North Carolina (Stokes Foods)
Typically when I serve gnocchi as a main dish I do so with a tomato sauce. But let's face it if the above photo had a red sauce on top of a purple dumpling it just wouldn't look that great. Now a white sauce. That's a different story. So I made a basic white cheese sauce containing Parmesan and Brick cheeses. To me, brick cheese is a more flavorful version of mozzarella. I use it in any recipe calling for mozzarella. Not all places carry it so you might have to just settle for mozzarella, although provolone would be nice too
One of the challenges of this recipe is getting the dough together. The problem lies in that the amount of cooked potatoes varies a lot on the size of the potato. The best thing to do is weigh out the cooked potatoes when done. You use about 15 ounces of each type for a total of 30. Getting that exact amount will make it a lot easier for you to get the dough to come together. The first time I did this with Alton's recipe I didn't have the weight amounts, so I had to add a lot of flour to get the dough to come together. It was a mess. In Alton's first Good Eats book he gave the weight amounts making my life easier.
For the gnocchi
For the cheese sauce
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese
- 6 oz Brick Provolone, or Mozzarella cheese
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups whole milk
- kosher salt and white pepper to taste
Preparing the potatoes
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Clean and pierce your Russets. Bake for 1 hour or until a fork can go through it. Set aside to cool.
- While the potatoes are cooking, peel and cube your Purple Sweet Potato. Place into a steamer basket inside a pot with enough water to just not touch the sweet potatoes. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, then down to a simmer. Cook until they can be mashed with a fork, 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
Preparing the dough
- Weigh out 15 ounces of each potato, if you don't have exact, make sure you just have 30 ounces of combined potato.
- Combine the Russets and the Purple sweet potatoes together in a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher to combine. Add the salt, egg, and nutmeg, stir to combine. Now add in the flour. Mix together until a dough forms. Once it gets started I like to put it onto my work surface and knead it until a ball of dough is formed. You may need to add more flour.
- Cut the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a log. Using a bench scrapper or a knife, cut into equal bite sized pieces.
Cooking the gnocchi
- Fill a large pot with water. Bring to a boil. Add about a cup of gnocchi at a time, don't overcrowd.
- Once the gnocchi float to the surface, they are done. Strain and remember until finished with all of them.
Preparing the cheese sauce
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add in the flour, salt, and white pepper.
- Then add in the milk. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. After that minute remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese.
Finishing the gnocchi
- Add a combo of butter and oil to coat the bottom of a frying pan. Heat the pan over high heat. Add the gnocchi a couple handfuls at a time, again don't crowd them. Add in some of the sage.
- Cook until the gnocchi has browned about 2-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and finish the rest of them. I do it in 3 batches.
- Lightly sauce the gnocchi and serve.