Monday, April 15, 2013

Gnocchi with Sage Butter

     If you take the time to make the homemade gnocchi from my previous post, this simple dish is a perfect vehicle to show off your hard work. A rich coating of butterperfectly complements the gnocchi's soft, melting texture and the flavour of the sage is a perfect match for the potato pasta.

 Gnocchi works well with simple sauces, and this one is about as simple as it gets. It only has 3 ingredients: sage, butter & water. What  makes the difference between a good butter sauce and a great one is technique. Like in a beurre blanc, the base of this sauce is a beurre monté. To make a beurre monté, you gently melt butter in a hot liquid one cube at a time so that it doesn't break and become greasy. In a beurre blanc you would typically use reduced white wine or vinegar. For this sauce I simply use some of the water that the gnocchi was cooked in. 

       To give the dish an extra bit of texture, I fry some sage leaves for garnish. The crispness of the fried sage brings a nice counterbalance to the soft gnocchi and makes for an elegant presentation. Sage holds ups well to frying and the process helps bring out its earthy flavour. Fried sage leaves are a great garnish for all kinds of dishes, particularly poultry.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time 15 minutes. Serves 5.


2 lbs (900g) homemade gnocchi
1 bunch fresh sage
1/4 lbs (115g) cold butter, cubed 

2 cups vegetable oil (for frying)

1. Heat the vegetable oil to 300F in a small pot equipped with a deep fry thermometer. Cut half the leaves from the bunch of sage, choosing a mix of both the biggest and the smallest leaves. Fry the sage a few leaves at a time until they are crisp and have almost stopped bubbling. Transfer the fried sage to a baking tray lined with paper towel and set aside to dry. 

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and then cook the gnocchi until it floats to the top of the pot. If you are using frozen gnocchi, don't defrost it first - add it to the boiling water while it is still frozen. Fresh gnocchi will be ready in about 3 minutes, frozen gnocchi will take about 2 minutes more. Strain the gnocchi and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Toss the gnocchi with a knob of butter and keep it in a warm place while you make the sauce. 

3. Finely chop the remaining sage. In a large pot or frying pan, gently heat the reserved cooking water to the temperature of hot coffee. Tilt the pan so that the water collects in one side and whisk in the cold butter, one cube at a time.  Add the sage and let the sauce rest for 5 minutes to allow the flavour to infuse. 

4. Add the cooked gnocchi to the butter sauce and toss over gentle heat for 2 minutes. Divide the gnocchi among 5 bowls and top with fried sage.