When I lived in Perth, Australia I had a friend that lived way on the other side of the country near Canberra. For those of you who don’t know, Australia is huge so when I say way on the other side of the country I mean wayyyy on the other side of the country. It takes roughly about four hours to fly from Perth to Canberra.
Anyway this friend, we’ll call him Geoff (because that’s his name) really liked to putter around in the kitchen, not just the barbie like most Aussie men (oooh, got my funny pants on today!). One day he posted on facebook that he made his wife a gorgeous dish of sweet potato gnocchi with burned butter sage. That had my attention right away and I was impressed that the dude can COOK!
So I’ve been thinking about this dish on and off for about 3 years now. I’ve made regular gnocchi and it turned out quite well (pre-blog days) but with all those great sweet potatoes in the shops these days I knew it was finally time to give this beautiful and impressive dish a go.
Ingredients: 3 medium sweet potatoes, approximately 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and pepper, 1/4 cup butter, fresh sage.
I bought three sweet potatoes of roughly the same size, poked some holes in them and roasted them in the oven until I could stick a fork easily into their centres. Then as quickly as I could (dinner was a rush job as football was about to start!) I peeled the steaming skin off my fingers, I mean…potatoes and cut them into chunks.
Then I got out my shiny new food mill and mushed the sweet potatoes into fine, fluffy bits. Actually, I managed to get hubby to do the dirty work while I attempted to take an action shot.
With all of the sweet potatoes dumped out onto the counter, I kneaded in flour until the mixture became a cohesive dough. Since I started with three good sized sweet potatoes I may have used around 1 1/2 cups of flour. I did also add some freshly grated pepper and salt to the mixture. Keep your work surface well floured and you shouldn’t have any sticky dough problems.
Next, I divided the dough into four and rolled each bit into a long rope about 2 cm wide. If you like your gnocchi a bit smaller, make the ropes a bit thinner.
For the next step I enlisted the help of kid number 2. I figured she would be a good hand model while I took the action shots. She’s also pretty smart so she caught on right away to the gnocchi shaping. My kids all really love gnocchi so this wasn’t too much trouble for her. We started reminiscing about when her grandparents took all three kids to a nice Italian restaurant and grandpa ordered the ‘gah-naw-chi’. Oh, they were slightly embarrassed but made sure to wait until the server was gone to correct grandpa’s pronunciation. Now every time we have gnocchi the story gets retold and we all have a chuckle at grandpa’s expense.
To shape the gnocchi, she rolled the piece of dough in her hands until it was an oval shape, then used a fork to indent one side. The ridges created by the fork help to hold the sauce on the gnocchi.
Despite the huge amount of gnocchi to be made, kid number 2 disappeared after her slight guest appearance. It took me a while to finish the rest of them but the good thing is that this recipe made enough for two meals and gnocchi freezes well.
And after all of that at least the ‘sauce’ was really quick and effortless. I added 1/4 cup of butter to the pan and heated it until the little flecks of milk solids turned all brown and caramel-ly. Somewhere in there I threw in a handful of fresh sage leaves so they would be nice and crispy. After the gnocchi had boiled and become buoyant I scooped them out of the water and into the burned butter.