GNOCCHI WITH SAGE AND BUTTER
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
3 large egg yolks
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.