Esquire (UK) - - EATS -

For four Make no mis­take, this is a clas­sic, and with very good rea­son. Ital­ian cook­ing has cer­tain foun­da­tion blocks on which the whole canon is built, and if you dare to mess with those, the re­sult can be dis­as­trous. One of the rea­sons this dish is so revered is that it’s a sort-of triple-whammy com­bi­na­tion of com­fort: pasta, pota­toes and but­ter. I defy any­one not to be se­duced by the aro­mas, flavour and mouth­feel af­forded by well-made gnocchi in a sim­ple but­ter and sage sauce. If you’re feel­ing am­bi­tious, gen­tly score the in­di­vid­ual gnocchi with the tines of a fork be­fore cook­ing. This cre­ates tiny ridges which help them re­tain a lit­tle more of the but­tery sauce at the ta­ble. De­li­cious.

800g floury pota­toes, not too large 200g “00” flour, plus more for dust­ing Fine salt

1 nut­meg

3 large egg yolks

100g but­ter

1 shal­lot, peeled and very finely sliced Flaky sea salt

1 clove of gar­lic, peeled and very finely sliced

A large hand­ful of sage leaves, stalks re­moved

A small glass of white wine

120g Parme­san, grated

Freshly ground black pep­per 1. Bring a large pan of salted wa­ter to the boil and cook the pota­toes, whole, for about 20mins, un­til a skewer can be pushed eas­ily into the cen­tre with­out too much re­sis­tance. Drain them, then, when they are cool enough to han­dle, peel and put into a potato ricer. Squeeze di­rectly and evenly on to a floured work sur­face. Dis­card the skins. 2. Sea­son the re­main­ing flour with a good pinch or two of fine salt, sift it over the pota­toes and grate about half the nut­meg evenly over the flour. Cre­ate a well in the mid­dle, a lit­tle bit like a shal­low vol­cano, and add the egg yolks. Use a fork to bring the flour and potato mix into the mid­dle, then work into a soft dough, knead­ing a lit­tle un­til smooth. 3. Roll the dough with your hands and di­vide into 4 equal pieces. Cre­ate 4 long sausage shapes, about 1cm thick, then, us­ing a blunt knife, sub­di­vide each sausage into 2cm sec­tions. You should have cre­ated about 28 lit­tle rec­tan­gu­lar dumplings. If there are more, save them for later. 4. In a very large, deep-sided fry­ing pan, melt the but­ter over a medium heat and gen­tly sauté the shal­lots with a good pinch of flaky sea salt for 5mins, un­til soft and translu­cent but not browned. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, bring a large saucepan of salted wa­ter to the boil. Add the gar­lic and sage leaves to the fry­ing pan and sauté for another minute or two, un­til the leaves are just start­ing to crisp. Pour in the wine.

5. When the wa­ter is boil­ing, drop in the dumplings. You may need to do this in batches. When they float to the top it means they are ready. Re­move them with a slot­ted spoon and trans­fer them to the fry­ing pan of sage and but­ter. Stir sev­eral times and re­move from the heat.

6. Scat­ter most of the Parme­san over the gnocchi and turn over once. Trans­fer to four warmed plates, equally distribut­ing all the but­tery sauce. Fin­ish with a twist of black pep­per and the re­main­ing Parme­san.

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