Updated Friday, September 6th, 2013
Total Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Hands On Time: 1 hour
Yield: 8 servings
Gnocchi require time, but they're easy to make. For the best texture, the trick is to bake the potatoes until they're quite soft and lose some moisture, then work them into a dough while they're still warm.
Preheat your oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with foil. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork; set them on the sheet, and bake until soft, about 50 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the eggs.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, halve them lengthwise and scoop out the insides; discard the skins. Force the potatoes through a ricer, or mash with a potato masher (don't use an electric mixer). Lightly flour your work surface; then turn the potato mixture out into a mound. Create a well in the center and pour the eggs into the well. Add 1 cup of flour plus 1 teaspoon salt to the eggs. Use a fork to stir; then work the egg/flour mixture into the potatoes. Add another 1/2 cup of flour and knead gently until the mixture holds together. If the mixture seems very wet and sticky, add another 1/2 cup of flour.
Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Take one portion, and cover the remaining dough with plastic wrap to keep it moist. Roll the first portion out into a rope about 1/2 inch in diameter. If the dough sticks to the surface, sprinkle it with more flour. Cut the rope into equal 1/2-inch pieces, and gently roll each piece along the tines of a fork to create ridges. Repeat with the other three portions of dough. Transfer to baking sheets lined with wax paper. (To store them for later use, freeze them on their trays; then transfer them to zip-top bags and freeze for up to 4 months.)
In a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and let it cook, stirring occasionally, until it turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Add the sage leaves, remaining salt, and nutmeg; then reduce heat to low and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; then reduce to a simmer. Gently add half the gnocchi and cook until they float to the top, about 2 minutes. Remove with a strainer and drain; then transfer to the skillet with the sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.
Add olive oil to the skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Stir the gnocchi into the sauce; then add Parmesan and toasted hazelnuts. Serve warm with additional Parmesan.
To toast hazelnuts, arrange them on a baking sheet in a 350° oven until browned and fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes; then transfer to a kitchen towel and rub to remove skins.
In this issue: Summer Off the Beaten Path
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