There are numerous kinds of potato dumplings but the ones I eat more often are the Italian gnocchi. I was introduced to them by an Italian in university who was rightly very proud of his heritage. He showed me how to make them and I’ve since fine tuned what I saw him do to my recipe below. I think he would be quite pleased with my plate of gnocchi.

I like to colour my dough but I always leave one portion uncoloured so I can taste the potatoes! In my feature image, the black ones were dyed with squid ink. There was no ‘squidy’ taste at all. Below, the purple were dyed with purple sweet potato powder, green came from spinach powder and orange from carrot powder.


Here they are with a Sage Butter Sauce.

Gnocchi Potato Dumplings

Prep: 30 – 45 minutes 
Cook: ~ 1 to 1.5 minutes per batch
Inactive:
Level: Intermediate
Serves: ~2 – 3
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? Best freshly made. If not, keep uncooked dumplings well separated, cover loosely and refrigerate.  Use with 24 hours. Once cooked, it must be served immediately.

Ingredients

~13.75oz (~390g) starchy potatoes (fluffy in texture and generally with a thicker skin. Has to be great for making mash potatoes). Example: Russet potatoes, King Edward, Maris Piper*
~5.64oz (~160g) waxy potatoes (denser in texture and generally with a thinner skin. Has to be great for salads, boiling). Example: Nadine, Charlotte, Fingerlings, New Potatoes)*
2 egg yolks
~1/2 – 3/4 cup all-purpose/plain flour to form dough & for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
* Starchy potatoes will give the dumplings its lightness. Waxy potatoes have a richer taste with a more yellow hue. As the latter is denser, a lesser amount is used so that it does not weigh down the dumplings. If you must use only one kind of potato, make it all starchy.

To colour dumplings (optional)
Use vegetable powders
Use vegetable juices
Use food colouring (which I avoid)
Suggestions: Beetroot, carrot, spinach, purple sweet potato, squid ink (it won’t impart any ‘squidy taste’)

Sage Butter Sauce*
Handful of sage fresh sage leaves**
~4 oz (113g) butter
Handful of grated parmesan
salt and black pepper to taste
* Other sauces to try: tomato based, pesto, cheese (gorgonzola is nice), …
** Plenty of alternatives besides traditional sage. I have used fresh lemongrass (smashed), tarragon, oregano, lavender (too floral for my taste), …

Method

Use a potato ricer. It makes the finest mash. Please buy one if you do not have one. They are inexpensive. Once you have tried it and taste mash made with a potato ricer, you will never go back to a fork to mash potatoes.

1. Steam the potatoes in their skins. Do not boil them as that just makes the potatoes more water logged. The ‘drier’ the potatoes the lighter the dumplings. You can also microwave or bake your potatoes in their skins.
2. When potatoes are cooked through, (test with a skewer – it should pierce through easily), peel the skins off whilst they are still warm. Wear gloves or use a fork and knife to help you.
3. Push the still hot/warm potatoes through a potato ricer and let if fall onto a large baking tray. I like to use my silicon mat instead.
4. Use 2 bench scrappers to lightly distribute the mash into a layer. You will also be using the bench scrappers to fold and incorporate eggs yolks and flour. Keep in mind: the less you handle the potato/potato dough, the lighter the dumpling. We aren’t making bread – do not knead.
5. Break up the egg yolks, and drizzle it in a thin stream all over the mash. Sprinkle the salt.
6. Use the bench scrappers to incorporate yolks into mash. Think of ‘slashing and folding’ to incorporate yolks into potato.  The image below shows the stage at which I was happy with the distribution of the egg yolks (just before flour is added).


7. Once you have the yolks evenly distributed, sift in the flour, a little at a time. How much flour?
8. As little as possible! Enough to form a dough. Better for it to be a tiny bit sticky than bone dry. You can always dust flour over a sticky dough to work on it. On the other hand, if you have worked in too much flour, it could lead to ‘floury’ instead of ‘potato’ tasting dumplings. There is also a higher chance that the dumplings will turn out heavy instead of light.
9. Once you have a dough formed, divide into 4 equal dough. If you intend to colour the dough, please read through bottom paragraph ‘To colour‘ before proceeding to Step 10.
10. Roll one into a log, ~3/4″ (2cm) in diameter. Use the bench scrapper to slice off ~3/4″ (2cm) pieces. Place them on a floured vessel (example: plate, baking tray). Dust the tops.  Follow through with the remaining 3 dough.
11. If not using immediately, I place them in the refrigerator after covering it lightly with plastic wrap.

To colour 
1. I always leave at least one out of the 4 dough uncoloured. That’s the best way to taste the potatoes!
2. To colour, flatten one dough and make a small indentation. Colouring goes into that indentation. With the help of the bench scrapper, work in the colour. Sift in more flour if it becomes too sticky to handle.
3. Follow through as outlined in Step 10 above.

Sage Butter Sauce
1. Five minutes before you start on this sauce, get the pot of water boiling (paragraph below), as the cooked dumplings should preferably go straight from pot into a warm Sage Butter Sauce.
2. Place butter and sage into a large saucepan. Turn on heat to medium. The idea is to infuse the butter with sage.
3. Once butter has melted, reduce heat to low to keep warm while you wait for dumplings to be cooked.

To cook dumplings
1. Boil a large pot of water. Once water comes to a boil, adjust heat to medium-high, water should still be boiling. Add enough salt to make the water almost as salty as the sea.
2. When water reboils, add enough dumplings to the water. Do not overcrowd the pot.
3. As the dumplings are cut so small, it will take only 1 minute or maybe 1.5 minutes for them to float to the surface. Remove immediately into the saucepan of butter.
4. Keep in mind that if you do not take the dumplings out of the water as soon as they float, they will start to fall apart.
5. If the butter sauce is not ready for the dumplings, transfer dumplings onto a plate that has been drizzled with a bit of butter or olive oil to avoid sticking.

Bringing it together
1. Toss the dumplings gently in the saucepan of butter. Choose to remove the sage leaves or not. Taste. Then, add parmesan, salt and black pepper to suit your taste.
2. Transfer onto serving plate(s), sprinkle with a touch of parmesan. Serve quickly.

Tips


To ‘ridge’ or ‘not to ridge’ the dough?
(1) Easy answer. If you have time, ‘ridge’ them. Roll each dumpling over a fork to get those little grooves. I happen to have that little paddle board (image above) for making those ridge marks so I use it when I feel like it.  I picked it up whilst I was in Bangkok. I’m quite sure the Thais didn’t make it for gnocchi but it works great and cost almost nothing.
(2) Do the ridges help to trap the sauces though? Well, of course they do but a spoon to help scoop up sauce and gnocchi into mouth also works just as well (if not better).

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