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