Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January 23: Potato Gnocchi With Sage and Brown Butter

I love that my son is developing an eclectic palate. He eats more stuff than either my husband or I do. In fact, the only weird thing he hates is guacamole. Want to see a kid who appears to have been poisoned? Sneak a spoonful of guacamole into his food. Weird.

He particularly loves this, especially with a piece of deli rotisserie chicken and steamed broccoli or cauliflower. And it really is just incredibly easy, with minimal prep time and effort. Just the sight of me getting out a box of Potato Buds (and yes, I really do make these with instant mashed potatoes; it makes this into a weeknight dinner as opposed to an all-day Sunday project) is enough to send him into happy convulsions on the kitchen floor. These remind me a little bit of spaetzel, which my grandmother used to make when I was young, but I like the slightly more adult touch of the brown butter, which tastes nutty and sweet and rich, along with the satisfying element that the potato brings.

This may not be a popular opinion, but I love how easy it is to use rubbed sage in this recipe. The effort of locating and chopping a big handful of sage for a Tuesday-night dinner is really sort of counterintuitive to me, especially when there are places like Penzey's where you can find very good quality dried herbs. There are a few exceptions to this rule--I never used dried parsley, basil, cilantro, or chives, for example--but I am okay with dried sage, especially because the fresh version of this plant has to be treated with some care and cooked well--when raw it tastes a little cottony.

Serves 4 generously.

Potato Gnocchi with Sage and Brown Butter

1 cup dry potato flakes
1 cup boiling water
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage, or 2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
1 small clove of garlic, pressed or minced
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Place potato flakes in a medium-size bowl. Pour in boiling water; stir until blended. Let cool.

2. Stir in egg, salt, and pepper. Blend in enough flour to make a fairly stiff dough. Turn dough out on a well floured board. Knead lightly.

3. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a long thin roll, the thickness of a breadstick. With a knife dipped in flour, cut into bite-size pieces. Roll each down the back of the tines of a fork, applying enough pressure to leave shallow ridges.

4. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook, stirring, until butter is a toasty brown, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sage and stir. Cook until garlic is lightly browned and sticky. Do not burn. Reduce heat to low.

4. Place gnocchi in boiling water. As the gnocchi rise to the top of the pot, remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to the skillet. Toss with butter. Taste for salt and pepper, serve immediately with parmesan cheese.

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