What is the worst that can happen if I make gnocchi?

This day was a day to try something new. Why not? The American Republican Party has gone to the Dark Side, Greenland is being devoured by algae, the Great Barrier Reef is almost exterminated, the Gulf of Mexico is filled with liquid dinosaurs, and I think Canada is still on fire. What is the worst that can happen if I make gnocchi?

I have been thinking about sweet potato gnocchi since I saw my first Primordia Chanterelles. They are beautiful. I become lost following the shading of yellows and umber. The scent is rich the way good butter is rich, revealing a spectrum of flavors with a deep breath. The shapes of the gnocchi and the shapes of the chanterelles seem like they would marry well.

I have never made gnocchi before, but I have made some bangin' linguine, and I am comfortable working with a variety of dough. What is the worst that can happen? I end up with little dough balls that the chickens will devour. Somebody will be happy, and I will inevitably learn something.

I have three different styles of gnocchi I want to try. Tonight, Number 1: Organic Japanese Sweet Potatoes and Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and Romano. Japanese sweet potatoes are stickier, paler, and sweeter than American sweet potatoes. I am familiar with them from Japanese desserts, and thought the contrast with the chanterelles, with butter and wine underneath it all, would be interesting. I also wondered if the combination would produce a lighter gnocchi, especially with the use of pastry flour instead of all purpose flour.

The dough is very easy to make, and as long as you remember not to handle it too much, it will be very light. I paired it with the chanterelles, corn off the cob, tart yellow apple, and toasted pine nuts with shallots and fresh sage in brown butter, stock, and Blair Pinot Gris. Topped it with some extra Romano.

It was very good. Bug said so, and it was. I have two more gnocchi recipes to try, but I think I might have to try an American sweet potato soufflé with chanterelles sautéed in Valley Milkhouse cultured butter, shallots and Blair vineyard Riesling first. %^) I am pursuing some taste I have never even had, but did not find it tonight. 

Wanamakers carries the potatoes I used. You can find their listing on the 'Landmarks' page.

Japanese Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sautéed Chanterelles, Corn off the cob, Tart Apple, Toasted Pine Nuts, Shallots, and Sage in Brown Butter & Blair Pinot Gris 

Japanese Sweet Potato Gnocchi

1.5 lbs Japanese Sweet Potatoes

.5 lbs Russet Potatoes

1 tbl Olive Oil

1.5 tsp Kosher salt

1 Large Egg

2 tbl Honey (I love Thyme Honey)

1/4 c Romano (or more, whatever...just not too much more: 2-3 tbls more would be fine)

1.5-2.5 c Whole Wheat Pastry Flour


1 Pint (4-5oz/130g) Chanterelle Mushrooms, ends snipped 

I Tart Apple, peeled, diced, and mixed with the juice of one lemon

3/4 c Corn off the Cob, cooked, mixed with zest of one lemon

3 tbl Toasted Pine Nuts

Fresh Sage to preference, I use a whole handful, probably 1/2 c. I love Fresh Sage.

3 tbl Diced Shallots

4 tbl good butter for 2tbl, 2tbl use

1/4 c Good White Wine

1/4-1/2 c Good Stock

Oven at 425: Drizzle oil over potatoes to coat. Rub salt and pepper over skin. Roast potatoes. I throw mine in a covered dish. 

While potatoes are cooking, grab a small glass of that nice white wine you have for the sauce, to be certain it is ok to cook with. Never cook with wine you do not want to drink. Unless you are making jello shots. Then it really does not matter. After that:

Melt 2 tbl of butter in a small pan and add chanterelles. After they begin to soften, add a splash of wine. My best guess is 1/4 cup, but I have honestly never measured when cooking with wine.

Primordia Chaterelles

After the wine has cooked down to just a simmering coating of butter and wine in the pan, add 1/4-1/2 c of stock. If your chanterelles are just foraged fresh you should only need 1/4 c. If they are older and firmer, 1/2 c. Start with 1/4 c and add as needed until the mushrooms are tender and shiny. The butter and the wine and the stock cooks down and gets brought up into the mushrooms while coating every bit of them and you have these succulent little flavor bombs. So Good. Anyway, take the pan off heat and let the mushrooms rest.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise when done, and cool enough to handle. Scoop out flesh. I loved writing that. "Scoop out flesh." Yeah.

In a large bowl: Mash well, or use a ricer. I like to mash them in my hands, I can get everything incorporated, and catch all the lumps. Plus, I do not have a ricer. They kind of freak me out.

Add the olive oil, salt, egg, honey, and a few grinds of pepper. Mix well. I use a fork, but I am sure you could use your hands if you wanted to keep that going. 

Add the flour a half cup at a go. When it starts to resemble dough, add needed flour heaping tablespoon at a time. The dough will be finished when it is firm, but not sticky, to the touch. The flour will vary depending on humidity, moisture level of your flour, and actual size of your egg. I have used two small eggs in place of one large for pasta.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface.

At this point, fill up a large pot and put to the boil. I use my 8qt enamel cast iron dutch oven for pasta. It seems to come back up to temperature quicker when doing multiple small batch fresh pasta.

Divide the dough into eight equal parts. I pat mine into a round and slice it like a pie. Then I usually weigh it, But, I did not do that tonight. I was in 'relax' mode.

Roll the dough into ropes a scant half inch and cut, on an angle, into half inch pieces.

Lay the raw gnocchi out on a baking sheet: one level, not touching.

In a large sauce pan, melt 2 tbl butter. Add the shallots and fresh sage. Cook until the sage has crisped around the edges, then add the chanterelles, apple, corn, and toasted pine nuts. You can add another splash of wine, and another tablespoon of butter, if you like. It really won't hurt it. Set on low. You want this to stay warm so the flavors marry while you cook the gnocchi, but you do not want it to cook any more. The corn will get starchy, the apples will get mushy, and, well, you just don't want it to cook any more. Stir this mixture while waiting for each batch of dumplings to float to the surface.

With the water at a low boil, drop the gnocchi into the water in small batches. I did five for this recipe. Remove the dumplings when they rise and float on the surface. Place the cooked gnocchi on a large platter or another baking sheet while you are cooking each additional batch, keeping only a single layer. Let the water come back up to a bubble before placing the next batch in.

When all the pillows are cooked, raise the heat on the veg, add the gnocchi to the pan with at least 1/2 c cooking water. Toss the gnocchi in the pan until they are well coated and most of the pasta water has cooked down. 

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and additional Romano. And another glass of that nice white wine.

Japanese Sweet Potato Gnocchi