Potato gnocchi with butter and sage sauce

Adapted from Lidia's Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali

Serves 6.

FOR THE GNOCCHI:

2 1/4 pounds Idaho or russet potatoes (about 3 medium-large potatoes)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch of freshly ground white pepper

2 large eggs, beaten

3 cups unbleached flour, plus more as needed

FOR THE SAGE BUTTER:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

10 fresh sage leaves

1 cup very hot water from the cooking pot of your pasta of choice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1 cup freshly grated parmesan

 

1. Boil the potatoes in their skins until easily pierced with a paring knife, about 35 to 40 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and rice the potatoes, and set them aside to cool completely, spreading them loosely to expose as much surface as possible to air.

2. On a cool, preferably marble work surface, gather the cold potatoes into a mound, forming a well in the center. Stir the teaspoon of salt and the white pepper into the beaten eggs, and pour the mixture into the well. Work the potatoes and eggs together with both hands, gradually adding 3 cups of the flour and scraping the dough up from the work surface with a bench scraper as often as necessary. (Incorporation of the ingredients should take no longer than 10 minutes – the longer you work it, the more flour it will require and the heavier the gnocchi will become.)

3. Sprinkle flour over a sheet pan – this is where you'll set the finished gnocchi. Dust the dough, your hands, and the work surface lightly with flour, and cut the dough into six equal parts. (Continue to dust as long as the dough feels sticky.) Using both hands, roll each piece of dough into a rope 1/2 inch thick, then slice the ropes at 1/2 inch intervals. Roll the balls of dough off the tines of a fork, making an indentation with your thumb as you roll, while leaving ridges from the tines of the fork on the other side. Rest them on the floured sheet pan as you make the remaining gnocchi. 

4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil to cook the gnocchi.

5. When the water is near boiling, make the sauce: Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until melted and just foaming. Gently lay the sage leaves in the pan, and heat until they crisp up, about a minute. 

6. Ladle in 1 cup hot or boiling pasta water; stir the sauce, and simmer for about 2 minutes, to reduce the liquid by half. Grind the black pepper directly into the sauce.  Keep the sauce hot over very low heat while you boil the gnocchi.

7. Shake excess flour from the gnocchi and add to the boiling water (don't crowd them; cook in batches if neccessary). Once the gnocchi rise to the surface, cook an additional 2 minutes. When they're nearly done, bring the sauce to a simmer. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon or small strainer and transfer directly to the sauce; toss the gnocchi in it gently to coat. Remove from heat and toss in the cheese just before serving.