During the winter months, I spend most of my free time at a friend’s organic farm chasing ducks and geese in the tidal creeks and crop fields. After a morning of fighting half frozen silt, icy water, and bone chilling wind, a rich, starchy, stick-to-your-ribs lunch next to a fire is all but required.
This historic farm has a wood stove in just about every room and also happens to grow the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had. It’s no coincidence that sweet potatoes often make it onto the post-hunt menu. And one of my favorite ways to enjoy sweet potatoes is as gnocchi. Sweet potato gnocchi are a pillowy, pasta-dumpling hybrid, perfect for soaking up rich sauces, replenishing lost calories, and bringing you back from bone cold mornings.
These sweet potato gnocchi are extremely simple with only four ingredients. The key is to not overwork the sweet potatoes or the dough. I use a ricer or food mill to press the cooked sweet potato and gently fold in the flour and other ingredients. You want to knead the dough just enough to evenly incorporate everything. If you work the dough too hard for too long, the gnocchi will be dense and heavy-textured instead of light and fluffy.
Once rolled out, gnocchi will keep well in the refrigerator for a few days or frozen for weeks. These sweet potato gnocchi pair well with just about any sauce you can imagine: creamy cheese-based sauces, savory tomato ragouts, bright herb sauces like pesto or gremolata, or with just some olive oil and parmesan. I personally like to toss them in duck demi glace and serve them with goose or duck confit, oyster mushrooms, and a dusting of parmesan.
- 1½ lbs. sweet potatoes
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- Using a fork or skewer, prick the exterior of the sweet potatoes and bake at 400°F until fork tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Alternatively, you can wrap the sweet potatoes in damp paper towels and microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Scoop out the flesh of the potato with a spoon, you should have about 2 cups.
- Next, press the sweet potato flesh through a potato ricer or a food mill.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the pressed sweet potato with parmesan cheese and salt. Add in half of the flour and knead. Add flour and continue to knead until you have a smooth and even dough, note that this may require slightly more or less than 1½ cups. The exterior should be tacky to the touch but not so sticky that it glues to your fingers.
- On a floured work surface, divide the dough into quarters, roll into ½-inch thick cylinders and cut into 1-inch segments. If you want, roll the segments on a gnocchi board or the back of a fork to put ridges on it. If not cooking immediately, lightly flour and spread out on a baking pan, cover, and refrigerate.
- To cook, add gnocchi to boiling water until gnocchi floats to the top, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain with a slotted spoon. Toss with your preferred sauce, serve immediately.