If you missed it, click on the logo below to hear my broadcast on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
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.
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:
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 the potatoes: pass them through a ricer.
Form thin coils–the thinner the coil, the smaller and more delicate the gnocchi will be.
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.