If potatoes had a hero, it would be Antoine-Augustin Parmentier. Born in France in 1737, he is most remembered for being a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source for humans in France and throughout Europe.
While serving as a French Army pharmacist during the Seven Years’ War, he was captured by the Prussians and imprisoned. Forced to eat potatoes, known to him at that point only has hog feed, he began to experiment and see the value to this small stubby root.
As a way to get the public interested in the vegetable, he conducted a series of publicity stunts, including hosting dinners at which potato dishes featured prominently and guests included luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier, giving bouquets of potato blossoms to the King and Queen, and surrounding his potato patch at Sablons with armed guards to suggest valuable goods — then instructing them to accept any and all bribes from civilians and withdrawing them at night so the greedy crowd could “steal” the potatoes.
I guess you could say his techniques worked, as potatoes are not only acceptable, and as more than just hog feed, but are a staple in kitchens around the world. Today’s recipe will show you how Italians make quick work out of a bag of spuds!
6 large baking potatoes (about 3 ½ pounds), scrubbed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt + salt for boiling water
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
Brown Butter Sage Sauce:
¼ cup butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 sage leaves*
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
* Click here to learn how to clean sage.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15-20 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, and peel. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then mash the potatoes with a fork, masher, or in a ricer. Place the mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and stir in the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Knead in enough flour to make a soft dough. If the dough is too dry, add some more oil, too moist, add some more flour.
On a floured surface, roll dough into a long rope. Cut the rope into ½ inch pieces. Take each piece and roll it against the back of fork, along the tines. This will give you’re the classic ribbed shape of the gnocchi dumpling.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi, one by one, and cook until they float to the top, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, remove any foam that rises off of the butter. Let the butter start to get a little colour to it. Remove it from the heat, and add the olive oi. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the garlic, and cook until the garlic has softened and is beginning to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the sage and salt for a few seconds, and then add the cooked gnocchi. Toss gently with ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and the pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese to serve.