Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Hazelnut Brown Butter Sauce

This was our first course last Thanksgiving, followed by a roast of pork. Sensational. The gnocchi were very light and delicious. The addition of locally sourced hazelnuts found at our Farmer’s Markets makes for an outstanding dish.

1 ¼ lbs. russet (baking) potatoes
1 (3/4 lb.) sweet potato, not the orange ones
1 large egg
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano + more for serving
1 ½ – 2 cups unbleached flour+ extra for dusting

Special Equipment: Potato ricer (great for making mashed potatoes too, they come out really fluffy).

Make the Gnocchi:

Preheat oven to 450F with rack in the middle.

Pierce potatoes in several places with a fork, then bake on a rimmed baking pan until just tender, testing after 30 minutes.
Cool potatoes slightly, then peel & force through a potato ricer onto a rimmed baking pan, gently spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely. Lightly flour 2 rimmed baking pans.

Beat together egg, nutmeg, salt & ½ tsp. pepper in a small bowl. Place potatoes onto a slightly floured surface, using a pastry scraper. Make a well in the middle, then pour egg mixture into the well; knead into potatoes. Knead in cheese and 1 ½ cups of flour, knead, adding more flour as necessary until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Dust top lightly with a bit of flour.

Rolling and Cutting the Gnocchi:

Cut dough into 6 pieces. Form 1 piece into a ½” thick rope on the lightly floured surface. Cut rope into ½” pieces. Place gnocchi onto lightly floured rimmed baking sheets; continue rolling & cutting the remaining 5 pieces of dough. (If you are so inclined, you can roll the gnocchi down over the back of fork tines, pressing with your thumb to make ridges). Let me say, right now, I do not bother, it’s kind of tricky!  But you can make a little indentation with your finger to capture the sauce.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp of salt. Working in 2 batches, add half the gnocchi. Cook until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a “spider” or slotted spoon to the warm butter, hazelnut sauce & repeat with the remaining gnocchi. Heat the gnocchi over medium heat stirring gently to coat. Serve in warmed bowls, topping each serving with some of the hazelnuts from the sauce & the reserved sage, finishing with grated Parmigiano. Yummy!

Make The Sauce:

½ cup butter
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted lightly & skinned**
½ cup sage leaves, not packed

In a small skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. EVO until hot. Toss in the sage leaves, stirring until they turn just a shade lighter & crisp, about 30 seconds. Transfer to paper towels to drain & season lightly with salt. Set aside. You can do this step well ahead.
In a skillet cook butter with hazelnuts over moderate heat until butter begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat. Season sauce with salt & freshly ground black pepper & keep warm.

**Uncooked gnocchi can be placed onto a baking parchment lined rimmed baking pan & frozen. When frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. Do not thaw before cooking. Nice to have in the freezer!

**To see how to toast & skin the hazelnuts, please go to Toasting Nuts.

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