Pillowy but with a density that gives a deeply satisfying bite, potato gnocchi is one of our favorite dishes. Simple food at its most glorious, these bite-sized dumplings are made with baked starchy potatoes, all-purpose flour, eggs, and in this edition, crumbly ricotta cheese. Somehow, in the brief time it takes to combine these ingredients into a cohesive mixture, alchemy occurs. The dough is rolled out into an Italian nonna’s finger’s thickness, cut into pieces, then pressed onto the tines of a fork to create the signature, plow track-like ridges on their plump behinds that will later serve to capture sauce.
For the sauce, we’ve opted for the classic pairing of brown butter and sage. Melted butter cooks until the milk solids transform into mahogany bits that exude an impossible to resist nutty aroma. Fragrant fresh sage leaves perfume this liquid, gold-flecked sheen. Buon appetito!
Equipment: strainer, large bowl, microwave (optional) large rimmed baking sheet, pastry cutter or chef’s knife, large pot, dinner fork, slotted spoon or spider, large stainless steel skillet
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 5 ounces), plus extra for dusting counter
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves
– Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
– Place ricotta in strainer set over bowl and allow to drain while you prepare potatoes.
– Poke potatoes all over with fork. Place potatoes directly on oven rack and bake until a fork easily pierces them, about 40 minutes. For shorter oven baking, arrange potatoes on large plate and microwave for 10 minutes, turning over once halfway through cooking. Transfer to oven rack and bake for about 20 minutes.
– With oven mitts or clean dish rag, transfer potatoes to baking sheet. When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and discard skin.
– Place potatoes in ricer or food mill and process directly onto baking sheet. Spread out onto even layer and cool to room temperature, 5 to 7 minutes.
– Bring water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt.
– Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and drained ricotta. With fork, stir in 3 ½ cups potatoes (if there are leftovers, reserve for different use), then, flour, mixing just to combine.
– Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour. Transfer dough onto surface, then gently combine into a ball. Knead about 30 seconds just to combine.
– With a pastry cutter or chef’s knife, cut dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece out into a rope about ½-inch thick. Cut each rope into ¾- to 1-inch pieces.
– Press each piece against the back of the tines of a dinner fork, pressing down and rolling gently to create the signature gnocchi indentations.
– Drop gnocchi into boiling water and cook until gnocchi float to the top, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to baking sheet with slotted spoon or spider.
– Melt butter in large stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Butter will foam, and, once foam subsides, brown particles will settle to the bottom of the pan. Immediately add lemon juice, gnocchi, and sage and cook until gnocchi begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Serve.