Sweet Potato or Squash Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

Introduction

Thanksgiving and Christmas are times to celebrate but they can also be used to innovate in the kitchen. I am happy to be constrained by “traditional” ingredients as long as I am free to choose what to do with them.

The reason for scare quotes: traditional = old bad habit, constraint and enemy of innovation; I have little time for it.

I came up with this dish for a Thanksgiving dinner in Atlanta a couple of years ago. We had sent our guests a wide list of ingredients and asked them to choose the flavours that they most associated with Thanksgiving, celebration and autumn/fall. This dish, one of many small courses that we served, was a result of their choices.

I had wanted to do something with sweet potato that showed it in a different light. The dish is equally good with sweet potato or squash, but look for a Potimarron or Hokkaido squash, they are less moist which is essential.

Tips

I prefer to make gnocchi without eggs, because they are more delicate and less rubbery. Adding an egg will make the dough easier to handle, so feel free to use it.

Use a potato ricer or food mill with the fine disk fitted. It will yield an even consistency which yields a good dough.

You can use all sweet potato or squash, but a baking potato contains less moisture, which is good for a light dough and it compliments the flavours well.

Gorgonzola needs to be fresh, i.e. a pale creamy white and at room temperature (which can take 4 hours) for this dish, but let me warn you the smell can be overpowering so place it in a sealed container.

Gnocchi

Ingredients

Measures available: Metric  Imperial  U.S.

For the Gnocchi

  • 400g sweet potato or squash (see Introduction above)
  • 200g floury baking potato (or 200g more of the above)
  • 200-250g plain flour
  • 1½ teaspoons of salt
  • 1 egg (optional see Tips above)

Gorgonzola Sauce

  • 120g Gorgonzola (see Tips above)
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 60ml whole milk
  • 120ml single cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated parmesan to serve

For the Gnocchi

  • 13 oz sweet potato or squash (see Introduction above)
  • 7 oz floury baking potato (or 7 oz more of the above)
  • 7-9 oz plain\all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons of salt
  • 1 egg (optional see Tips above)

Gorgonzola Sauce

  • 4 oz Gorgonzola (see Tips above)
  • 1 oz unsalted butter
  • 2 fl oz whole milk
  • 4 fl oz single\pouring cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated parmesan to serve

For the Gnocchi

  • 13 oz\3 cups sweet potato or squash (see Introduction above)
  • 7oz\1¼ cups russet potato (or more of the above)
  • 1½-2 cups all-purpose flour flour
  • 1½ teaspoons of salt
  • 1 egg (optional see Tips above)

Gorgonzola Sauce

  • ½ cup Gorgonzola, crumbled (see Tips above)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup light or pouring cream
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated parmesan to serve

Tools of the Trade

  • A potato ricer or a food mill with the fine blade fitted
  • A slotted draining spoon

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C\425°F\gas mark 7 (reduce temperature by 10% if using a fan oven).

Clean and dry the potato and sweet potato, with a sharp knife make deep slits in them and bake in the oven until tender, 40-50 minutes. Allow them cool until just warm, then peel.

If using squash cut them into large chunks and bake as above. Allow them to cool and then separate them from the tougher outer skin.

Process the potato and sweet potato or squash in the potato ricer or food mill, then place in a bowl, stir in the salt and allow to cool completely.

If using, beat the egg and add it to the cooled mixture. Now add the flour, a tablespoon at a time, and using your fingers lightly combine the mixture until you have a rough slightly sticky dough. The amount of flour required will vary depending on the moisture of the other ingredients. Adding too much flour makes them chewy.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it gently for a minute or two, dust with flour as necessary. The resultant dough should be light, smooth and just a little sticky.

Divide the dough into pieces about the size of a small orange. Take each piece and with lightly floured hands, work the dough into a rope about 2cm\¾ inch thick. Cut the rope into 2cm\¾ inch pieces.

You can cook the gnocchi at this stage, but they won't hold the sauce very well. To achieve the shape as seen above take each piece and gently press it against the tines of a fork. I find the easiest way to do this is to use my thumb to simply move the gnocchi from one end of the fork to the other. You may need to experiment with one or two, but you'll soon get the knack.

Heat the gorgonzola, butter and milk in a pan over a gentle heat and stir. The mixture will melt and thicken. Season to taste. Add the cream, stir to incorporate and keep the sauce warmed while you cook the gnocchi.

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling water, as for pasta, but season it lightly with salt. Drop the gnocchi into the water and stir gently. After a couple of minutes they will come bobbing to the surface. Don't leave them bobbing on the surface for more than 30 seconds. Scoop them out of the water and transfer to the warmed sauce. Toss to ensure they are thoroughly coated and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Suggestion

Chop up 8 fresh sage leaves and add to the Gorgonzola sauce.