Sweet Potato Gnocchi & Sage Browned Butter Sauce

Sweet potato gnocchi with browned butter and sage.
Sweet potato gnocchi with browned butter and sage.
Sweet potato gnocchi with browned butter and sage.

The posts have been few and far between, but with good reason: Paul and I recently moved! We’ve got our first “grown-up” place: a two-bedroom condo in West Chester (a suburb of Cincinnati). I’m in love with the hardwood floors, and the kitchen, though small, is serving my needs just fine (but I will always have a special place in my heart for that old gas range at our house in Clifton!!).

My kitchen!
My kitchen!
Our kitchen table.
Our kitchen table.

While Paul is out of town this weekend, I’m pleased to bring you the very first blog post from our new place. This recipe also marks a brief return to my “dinners for one” method of cooking! Sometimes it’s nice to just make a little batch of something special all for yourself.

My gnocchi didn’t turn out perfectly, but they made for a warm, comfort-food dinner on a cold night.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
& Browned Butter Sage Sauce

Serves 1

Ingredients

For the Gnocchi

  • 1 sweet potato (small, medium or large–just base it on how hungry you are!)
  • about 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, depending on the size of the potato
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of nutmeg, optional
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional

For the Sauce

  • about 2 tbsp butter
  • 5-6 sage leaves, fresh or whole dried

Steps

  1. Wash the sweet potato and pierce all over with a fork. Wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave until cooked through, about 6 minutes depending on the size of the potato. Check it halfway through and adjust accordingly.
    Pierce the sweet potato with a fork or knife all over.
    Pierce the sweet potato with a fork or knife all over.

    Alternatively, wash and pierce the potato, wrap it in foil, and bake at 400F for about an hour until tender.

  2. Remove the flesh from the potato (discard the skin), add the seasonings and mash with a fork or potato masher. You can also use a ricer if you have one.
    When the potato is cooked, I just cut it in half...
    When the potato is cooked, I just cut it in half…
    ...and scoop out the insides.
    …and scoop out the insides.

    Mash the sweet potato and seasonings together.
    Mash the sweet potato and seasonings together.
  3. Add flour a little at a time until a soft dough forms; the amount you need will vary based on the size of the potato and how moist it is. (Microwaved potatoes seem to have less moisture than oven-roasted ones.) Use as little flour as possible to create a manageable dough.
    Add the flour a little at a time. Start with about half the amount and work your way up.
    Add the flour a little at a time. Start with about half the amount and work your way up.

    I use the same roll test here that I used with my ricotta gnocchi: http://whateverpieces.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/ricotta-gnocchi/
    I use the same roll test here that I used with my ricotta gnocchi.
  4. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into three or four equal parts. Roll each part into a log about 1 inch in diameter and cut into pieces. Roll the pieces along the tines of a fork to form ridges, if desired.
    Divide the dough and roll each piece into a long rope.
    Divide the dough and roll each piece into a long rope.
    Cut the gnocchi with a knife dusted with flour.
    Cut the gnocchi with a knife dusted with flour.
    If you want, roll the gnocchi down the tines fork. I only did a few tonight.
    If you want, roll the gnocchi down the tines fork. I only did a few like this tonight.

    Gnocchi ready to go!
    Gnocchi ready to go!
  5. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and boil until they float (I usually add 5 or 6 at a time so that they float in stages).
  6. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Cut the butter into several equal-sized pieces and melt it in a pan over medium-low heat. Cook and stir constantly for a few minutes as the butter foams, and wait for the foam to subside. Add the sage leaves. Continue to stir until the butter browns and gives off a nutty aroma.
    Cutting the butter into equal pieces first ensures that it all melts at the same rate.
    Cutting the butter into equal pieces first ensures that it all melts at the same rate.
    After it melts, the butter will foam.
    After it melts, the butter will foam.
    Add the sage when the foam begins to subside. Continue to cook and stir until the butter is browned and smells nutty.
    Add the sage when the foam begins to subside. Continue to cook and stir until the butter is browned and smells nutty.

    About browning butter: Most cooking resources recommend browning butter in a light pan, like a stainless steel saute pan, so that you can easily see the browning. For this recipe, though, I find that cast iron holds the heat better and resists fluctuations when I add each batch of gnocchi (this little 8-inch skillet came from my great aunt’s house and it’s the perfect size for a one-person meal!). I depend on the smell of the butter to tell me when it’s browned, rather than its appearance. Do it however makes you comfortable!

  7. As the gnocchi float, remove them from a pot with a slotted spoon and move them straight into the butter sauce. They may spatter a bit when the water clinging to the gnocchi hits the fat in the pan, so be careful. Continue to add the gnocchi as they float and saute them until crisp and golden.
    Remove the gnocchi from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add them straight to the browned butter.
    Remove the gnocchi from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add them straight to the browned butter.

    Try to remove the gnocchi from the pot as soon as they float–I got distracted and mine overcooked. As a result, they were falling apart in the frying pan:

    This is what happens when they boil for too long.
    This is what happens when they boil for too long.

    I compensated by frying them for a long time to help them hold together and get some crispy pieces, but that meant that most of the browned butter was gone or absorbed by the time I got to eat them! (The photo of the nice-looking gnocchi is from a previous preparation.)

    For a demonstration of how it’s supposed to work, check out Gordon Ramsay’s similar technique in this episode of his Ultimate Cookery Course.

  8. Remove gnocchi to a bowl and pour the butter sauce over and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

    Finished gnocchi. They're looking a little ragged, but are still delicious!
    Finished gnocchi. They’re looking a little ragged, but are still delicious!

This is a rich, warm winter dish that feels fancy but is really pretty simple! The browned butter elevates the simple gnocchi, and the touch of sage is the perfect complement to the sweet potato. It’s also easy to scale up for more people, since it’s really more of a method than a recipe; just use about one sweet potato per person and go from there.

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