Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Fresh Sage

Last year I had the opportunity to go to Yountville, CA (Napa) for several days.   While I was there I had dinner at Michael Chiarello’s restaurant called Bottegga.  I choose the Gnocchi since it was the only vegetarian dish on our preselected menu.  I had tasted it before, but it had been the store-bought frozen kind and tasted like a watered down, chewy piece of an old biscuit.  YUM … insert sarcasm!

The gnocchi arrived looking like what I had remembered, although an amazing presentation came along with it.  I took my fork and knife and went in for my first bite.  The instant the gnocchi touched my mouth I knew something was different.  I literally didn’t chew … it just melted in my mouth like the cotton candy of my childhood.  It was awesome and literally resembled little marshmallows.  I devoured my meal.   Honestly, being a vegetarian, it’s not that often that I get an AMAZING meal.

So, I knew I would have to try to make Gnocchi.  Over the course of several months I would pull gnocchi recipes from magazines and online resources.  My heart knew that I would have to try the one from the restaurant in Napa, Botegga’s, first.

MOMENT OF TRUTH!!!  What I failed to realize after all my research on Botegga’s website was that the kind of Gnocchi I had WASN’T POTATO!  I mean, this recipe is really good and the sage brown butter is awesome, but it was NOT even close to what I had in Yountville.  After two attempts, it dawned on me that maybe the menu we had at the restaurant was different because we were a larger group.  VIOLA!  It was RICOTTA GNOCCHI (WHO KNEW?) with a red sauce.  Oh yea … haha … go ahead and laugh … because my poor family will still be eating potato gnocchi for months since each recipe makes about 50!

Here is the POTATO GNOCCHI and the Brown Butter Sage recipe from Michael Chiarello’s. Click here!

Mise En Place: Preheat Convection Oven to 375

Please note that this recipe makes a TON.  You could easily half the recipe or freeze the extra’s for SEVERAL meals! 

  • 2 lbs russet potatoes (about 5-6) You’ll want to weigh them if you can.
  • 1 c coarse kosher salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c fresh grated parmesan
  • 1/2 t salt
  • pinch of ground pepper
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

On a baking sheet, pour about 1 cup of kosher salt in the middle of the sheet so it mounds up to about a 1/2 inch.  Set your potatoes on the salt and bake for about an hour.  (Please forgive the salt on top, I had just washed them and they were still wet!)

Supposedly you put the potatoes on the salt so that you don’t get a hard spot on the bottom. (No idea at all why that is important since you only want the inside of the potato anyway.)  Once the potatoes have softened similar to  a baked potato, remove from the oven.

As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to touch, cut them lengthwise and scoop out the flesh into a food mill or ricer. (I don’t think you could use a masher, as you really need the potatoes smooth.)

In a large bowl, gently combine the processed potatoes, egg yolks, grated parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg with a fork. Add a cup of flour and lightly mix the flour into your potato mixture.  Once it’s pulled together, you can dump it out onto a  floured work surface and begin to gently knead it.

If it feels sticky, add another 1/4 c of flour, but the less flour you add, the less dense the gnocchi will be.

Once it’s combined, roll the dough into a log that is about 3 inches wide – cut into 8 pieces.

Working quickly, (you don’t want the dough to get too warm)  roll each section into a 1/2 inch wide log, dust the flour off with a pastry brush.

Then cut each piece to about 1/2 inch long. (At this point you can freeze them by first placing them on a parchment lined and lightly floured baking sheet.  After freezing them for at least 4 hours,  place in a freezer bag.  No need to defrost when you are ready to use them, just follow the directions below.)

If you want to be fancy prior to freezing, you can press each little gnocchi by using the back of a fork to give it ridges.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil and place about 15 pieces in the pot (more or less dependent on the size of your pot and the amount you need to serve).  Let them rise to the surface and then cook an additional 2 minutes.  Serve promptly.

While my water was heating up for a boil, I started on the sauce below.

Brown Butter Sage Sauce:
4T unsalted butter (this is a lot of butter, I halved it when I made it again)

10 fresh sage leaves (don’t bother if you don’t have fresh … it won’t taste the same)

1/2 lemon juice

1/4 c grated fresh parmesan

In a small sauce pan melt the butter on medium heat, stir occasionally until it starts to turn a light brown color – this will give the butter a nutty flavor (4-6 minutes).

Once it changes color, remove from the burner and stir in the sage leaves.  NOTE TO SELF: make sure your sage is completely dry before putting it into super hot BUTTER!  When I made this I had just walked out to my garden and clipped some sage leaves. I rinsed them off and then started to cut the leaves into the pan … when suddenly it SPIT HOT BUTTER BACK AT ME.  Took me about 30 seconds to realize that my sage was still wet from washing it off.  Lesson learned!

Personally, I like the leaves whole, but you can also slice them into smaller pieces if you prefer.  Keep warm until you are ready to serve. When you are ready to plate the gnocchi, drizzle the warm sage butter on top, add a small squeeze of lemon and grate a good  parmesan for your garnish.


This was really good, and I do love that because it makes so many I can have it ready in the freezer on a night that I don’t want to spend time making a side.

Cook on and don’t lite YOURSELF on FIRE!


PS:  Some pictures were taken by my son, this one was his favorite!

3 Replies to “Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Fresh Sage”

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