I bought that one giant sweet potato… I don’t remember when…. and I remember even less for what….. So, it was just sitting there on the counter…. waiting to be used…. for who knows what…. I did find something, but it didn’t hold my fancy…. (mostly because it was a) sweet and b) big, and I didn’t want to eat a lot of it all by myself…) I know I wanted the sweet potato to go into something savoury… When it comes to sweet potato and pumpkin/squash, there are limits to their use in desserts for my taste… DEFINITELY no marshmallows are EVER coming close to my sweet potatoes! They are staying as far away on a stick by a campfire, thank you very much.
There were ideas for home-made pasta, something like ravioli, filled with some sweet potato filling…. there is a recipe I’ve made before from Mark Bittman about pasta for which, thankfully, I don’t need a pasta maker…. but then since I was thinking of pasta and things Italian…. gnocchi came to mind…. At around the same time, that very same Mark Bittman came up with an article for gnocchi in different colours that he worked on with Mario Batali. Then, I also found an old recipe/attempt by David Lebovitz at exact sweet potato gnocchi. The recipe is a few years old and he even says it how “unsuccessful” (more like tricky, I’d say) it was, and just looking at the pictures, I don’t want this to come off as bad, but they looked exactly like I would’ve made them! Not someone who has kitchen and cooking and baking experience like he does! So, it was a heart-warming pleasure reading about his troubles to mangle and knead this terribly (oh you will curse the day you were born) sticky mess to something malleable.
I would say that my recipe is inspired by those both, because I followed neither. 🙂 I have a few photos, but I would just like to say here how hard it was taking them, because as I said, you will curse the devil that got into your head, made you get up from your seat and put your hands in this stickiness. I would also like to use this opportunity to apologize for not having measured the flour. At all. I couldn’t. I just kept adding more and more and kneading until it came together, for about an hour! Yah! AN HOUR! David (and Mario Batali too) give weight measurements for the flour, but it all depends on your potatoes. And the vegetable mix you are introducing.
See, you need for starters starchy potatoes. I’ve made gnocchi before with purely potatoes and they were way easier to make. Sweet potatoes are so incredibly wet! So right then and there, you would need more flour than normally. Plus, I doubt my potatoes were starchy. I tried doing David’s ratio of sweet potato to regular potato, but I gave up on it, cause my scale’s not that specific and besides, I’m not cooking medicine, it’s gnocchi for crying out loud! I had more regular potato than David and if my sticky mess was giving me a headache, I can only imagine the hell he went through 😦 I had grand ideas of adding different kinds of flours in the gnocchi… yah, that didn’t happen. I had dough so far up my hands, that it was difficult to get that bit of flour I did use out of the bag without putting raw dough inside the unused flour!
David was saying something that if you overwork the dough or if you add too much flour, then they will be gummy…. I froze the over one hundred gnocchi that this yielded (!) but I tasted a few before freezing them, and I don’t know if they’re gummy…. I mean, Mario said add flour up until when you can roll this into a log and cut the pieces… and as much as I also don’t like adding a lot of flour, there was just not rolling this! I mean, sure, I could have floured my hands and dropped off knödel in boiling water…. but then that is not gnocchi… I even had the patience, (after than one hour, if you can imagine…. oh did I say, I started this at 21h on a Saturday?! No life, remember?) to roll them against the tins of a fork to make the traditional indentations! If you find the NY Times video, you can see how Mario shows to roll them. Of course it is too easy for him to say. Mine are not as special or perfect, but I did notice that if you place the cut piece of gnocchi with one of the sticky sides on the tins and then roll, it will create the marks more easily, than if you place it on the floured side (floured, being from the work surface)
Lastly, I took the purist route and did what Mario said, to NOT add an egg because it makes the final product heavier. Since I was adding flour like mad, I think there was no need to add to the heaviness. It might make matters easier, that one egg… but oh well….
550 gr sweet potato
300 gr potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1 – 1 1/2 tbsp grated parmesan
!. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
2. When the oven’s heated up, bake your potatoes for about 40 mins, till they’re soft.
3. When done and cool enough to handle, peel their skins off and either run them through a potato ricer or grate them with an old fashioned grater (which is what I had and did).
4. The salt and parmesan, you can pretty much add at any point, but start adding the flour to the potatoes. I’d suggest working on your counter or whatever work surface you use, because as much as I like to start off in a big bowl, this is so sticky, it would been more difficult in a bowl. Also, this is the first time I realized why that metal scraper/scooper is actually a practical thing! I used a metal spatula to collect the stuck up potato mix of the work surface. (no need to place this on a floured work surface, cause this thing sticks so much, alllll the way until the end!)
5. You will see that there will be a point juuuuust before it comes together, that it starts to stick that bit less to the counter. That is when I collected everything with a spatula, tried moving it away, floured the surface, rerolled it back on the surface and came together like a charm! In an instant! That is why even if I do give you a quantity for the flour, I don’t know how much you will need. As David says, start off with too little flour, rather than too much. It is safe to say I started off with WAAAAY too little hahaha so I added basically
tablespoon by tablespoon handful by handful. (the other thing about having added too much flour is that they’re supposed to be light as little clouds…. I don’t know how “cloudy” mine are, but I know that when I was cutting them and handling them with the fork, they seemed pretty soft and plushy, so I must’ve been doing something right!)
6. I made the dough in one long log, then cut the log into 4 so I could then roll those into smaller, thinner logs. I discovered that I should’ve cut it in 8. My first batch were too large 🙂 Make the long logs and cut pieces the size of your thumb nail.
7. Optional: roll them against the tins of a fork, and either cook in boiling, salted water for about 5 mins. until they float to the surface, or reserve and freeze.
And that’s it! You can now enjoy them with the sauce of your choice. Brown butter and sage, tomato, ham and cream, carbonara, alfredo, you name it 🙂
P.S. This post is already too big, will do the recipes in other posts, I’d like to try them in different ways, there certainly are enough of them!