Today, as many of you know, is the Chicago Marathon. Runners from all over the country woke bright and early and set off on a course across the Windy City. Good for you, I say!
Today, as many of you don't know, I had my own marathon...in my kitchen (no surprises there). While scores of toned athletes were burning off thousands of calories, I was in my kitchen turning thousands of calories into tasty autumnal treats. Don't laugh, I've been training every bit as hard as those runners, and I have the ill-fitting jeans to prove it. I've given up sleep and a social life in order to spend upwards of 25 hours a week in intense training. I've lost blood (darn paring knife) and shed tears (dumb onions). The only difference I can see is that after all that work, instead of crossing a finish line, I tucked into a big bowl of sweet potato gnocchi with fried sage and brown butter with a side of brussel sprouts braised in white wine and thyme, followed by pumpkin pie with walnut brown sugar topping, and vanilla sweet brown rice pudding. And after that very last bite, I did indeed feel as though I had just run a marathon.
Most normal people don't spend the first three hours of their Saturday morning browsing the farmers market. And most normal people don't then come home and spend the next 7 hours cooking dinner (with breaks along the way for breakfast and lunch, of course). But then again, most normal people don't love food so much that they read blogs about what other people are eating, so I feel as though I'm in good company here. And that's why I'm going to share this recipe for homemade sweet potato gnocchi with you. Even though it takes a painstakingly-long time to form each and every last gnocchi, you fine folks might just be crazy enough to try it. By the way, I recommend that you do. It goes even faster and tastes even better if you have some friends helping you. Nothing is more delightful than spending a chilly fall day in your kitchen, rolling gnocchi with a friend.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Sage and Chestnuts
Adapted from the October 2009 issue of Gourmet
1.25 lb russet or idaho potatoes
.75 lbs. sweet potato
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling the gnocchi
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sage leaves
1/3 whole chestnuts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
Step one: Bake potatoes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pierce potatoes in several places and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Peel and cool potatoes, and then mash them until no lumps remain. Allow potatoes to cool completely.
Step three: Make dough. Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Mound potatoes in the middle of a floured sheet pan, and form a well in the center. Pour egg mixture inside, and knead until incorporated. Knead in cheese and 1.5 cups of flour. Add more flour if necessary and knead until the you have a smooth and slightly sticky ball of dough.
Step four: Form the gnocchi. Cut the ball of dough into 6 equal pieces. Form each piece into a rope about 1/2 in. thick, and cut rope into 1/2 in thick pieces. Roll each piece into a small ball and lightly dust with flour. Roll each ball down the tines of a fork, so that you have a slightly-cylindrical and grooved gnocchi. Place each on a baking sheet.
Step six: Make the sauce. Add butter to the skillet (without discarding the oil) with about 1/2 tsp salt and cook until golden brown, about two minutes. Remove from heat.
Step seven: Boil gnocchi. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Boil half of gnocchi at a time, adding to the water and stirring. Cook until they begin to pop up to the surface, about three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the skillet and coat with the butter sauce. Heat all gnocchi in a skillet over medium heat, stirring so that it's evenly coated.
Step eight: Serve. Place a portion of gnocchi in a bowl. Top with a few sage leaves and a sprinkling of chestnuts. Add more grated cheese if desired.