Feb 212014

If you missed it, click on the logo below to hear my broadcast on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Julia della Croce on National Public Radio

The lead:

For 27 years, Julia made her gnocchi with sweet potatoes, mixing an American staple into the classic recipe. “Here I was, one foot in the new world and one foot in Italy, where my family is from, and they seemed perfect for gnocchi. Why not?” And in all that time, her dumplings were sweet, served with a hazelnut butter sauce, and — most importantly — a lovely shade of orange.

This is one way I serve them–American style–alongside roasted duck. The orange sauce is classic Italian, but spiked with my own garden currants that I’d frozen for a winter day. A bright dish such as this with its memory of summer brings such cheer to the table.

6 gnocchi with duck

An antidote to winter blues: purple and golden sweet potato gnocchi, served alongside roasted duck. The condimento: sweet-and-tart orange and currant sauce made with berries from my garden.

I hope you enjoy the interview. Some answers to listener questions:

What variety of potato is best?: I reiterate: use sweet potatoes that are dry, not oozing moisture. Buy them a week or two in advance and leave them out on a countertop to dry out somewhat. Cook them as I describe, at a very low temperature, for a long roast (never boil–this would draw water into the potatoes). Very dry varieties, like the purple “sweets” I discovered, are ideal because their water content is so low. The drier the potato, the lighter the gnocchi will be.

Precisely how much flour should I use?: I give guidelines in the recipe, but this will depend entirely on the moisture content of the potatoes.

Illustrated fine points:

"Roasting them, slow and easy, for maximum water evaporation. Covington variety, left; Red Garnet, right.

Two different varieties of orange “sweets.” Roasting them, slow and easy, for maximum water evaporation. Covington variety, left; Red Garnet, right.

The easiest way to puree: pass them through a ricer.

The easiest way to puree the potatoes: pass them through a ricer.

Form thin coils--the thinner the coil, the smaller and more delicate the gnocchi will be.

Form thin coils–the thinner the coil, the smaller and more delicate the gnocchi will be.

5 gnocchi on towels

My daughter Gabriella and I are arranging the formed gnocchi onto lightly floured kitchen towels to prevent them from touching, and sticking to each other. My daughter, Celina, is taking the pictures.

About the Stokes purple sweet potatoes, look for them in specialty markets in late August when the new crop will be harvested.

I might also add that I haven’t abandoned the classic potato gnocchi of the Italians. I adore them, too. For the back story about my “found” recipe, continue reading here.

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  4 Responses to “Julia’s Sweet Potato Gnocchi Recipe Airs on NPR”

  1. here’s the NPR interview,

  2. I followed this recipe precisely and when I dropped my lovely, tender purple gnocchi into the boiling water, they disintegrated! Wasted produce and time. Was there by chance a missing ingredient, an egg perhaps?

    • Hello Anne, I’m very sorry that you’ve had this problem with the purple sweet potato gnocchi and you are not alone. Another reader wrote and told me the same thing, and I as well found this year’s purple potatoes to be problematic. I am going to go back to the drawing board with this and figure out what the problems is and work on developing a more reliable formula. Yes, adding egg or white white will help.I will post an update when I have an answer for you. Please accept my apologies. If you will send me your address by private email, I would like to send you something to make up for your troubles. You can write to me at julia@juliadellacroce.com. Thanks so much for writing.

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