Fred Foster’s Chestnut Gnocchi 

Chestnut gnocchi

Ideal for a cozy autumnal evening’s supper, this hearty gnocchi dish from Fred Foster of Borough Market’s Turnips uses the addition of chestnut flour for a super-tasty twist

“Adding chestnut flour (see note at the bottom) to these potato gnocchi makes them super-tasty. You can serve them simply with the Parmesan cream sauce, or, for a more substantial meal, with roasted butternut squash and a butternut squash sauce.”

Serves 4 

For the gnocchi:

• 200g (7oz) fine table salt 
• 4 Agria potatoes, pricked all over 
• 10–12 sweet chestnuts 
• 30g (1oz) Parmesan, grated, plus extra to season the squash and to serve 
• 1 egg 
• 60g (2¼oz) chestnut flour 
• 40g (1½oz) “00” flour, plus extra for rolling out 
• 1–2 tbsp olive oil
• salt and freshly ground black pepper 
• microchickweed, to garnish (optional) 

For the Parmesan cream sauce:
• 100ml (3½fl oz) vegetable stock 
• 1 garlic clove, crushed 
• 1 thyme sprig
• 150ml (5fl oz) double (heavy) cream 
• 60g (2oz) Parmesan, grated 
• 40g (1½oz) butter, cold and diced 

For the roasted squash and squash sauce (optional): 
• 1 butternut squash, peeled and deseeded 
• 2–3 tbsp olive oil 
• 2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked 
• 50ml (1¾fl oz) double (heavy) cream 
• 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Scatter the salt on to a small baking tray and place the potatoes on top (this will help to draw out water from the potatoes as they bake).
2 Bake the potatoes on the top shelf for 45–60 minutes, or until they are completely soft inside. 
3 While the potatoes are baking, score the chestnuts and roast them in the oven for about 25 minutes, until they are soft and split open. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and crumble them. Set them aside. 
4 If you are using the squash, cut the top part into chunky dice and the bottom part into 1cm (½in) cubes. Toss the larger pieces with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the thyme, season with salt and pepper and roast the pieces in a baking tray on a shelf beneath the potatoes for 30 minutes, until tender. Keep warm.
5 Tip the smaller pieces into a saucepan with the shallot and garlic and the remaining oil. Sweat over a low heat for 10 minutes, until very soft.
6 Add the cream and heat gently for 2 minutes, then blitz it to a smooth sauce. Season with Parmesan and reheat before serving (in place of the Parmesan cream sauce). 
7 Scoop the cooked potato flesh into a fine-mesh sieve and push it through into a bowl. Add the egg, both flours and the 30g (1oz) of Parmesan and combine, but don’t overwork.
8 On a floured surface, roll the mixture into a long “rope” as thick as your thumb and cut it into 1.5cm (5∕8in) pieces. 
9 Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Boil the gnocchi for about 2 minutes, until they float to the surface. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked gnocchi into a bowl of iced water to cool and firm up. Drain, then heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
10 Add the gnocchi and pan-fry until golden. Remove from the pan and keep warm. 
11 To make the Parmesan cream sauce, using the gnocchi pan, pour in the stock, add the garlic and thyme and bring to a boil, then reduce by half. Add the cream, bring to a boil and reduce by a third.
12 Remove the thyme sprig, add the Parmesan and stir over a low heat. Gradually add the butter, stirring until smooth and emulsified. Season to taste. 
13 Spoon your chosen sauce into bowls and top with the gnocchi (and roasted squash, if using). Scatter with the chestnuts and extra Parmesan and garnish with microchickweed, if you like.

For the Chestnut Flour
Makes about 500g (1lb 2oz)

• 2kg (4lb 8oz) sweet chestnuts

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Using a small, sharp knife, score a cross on the rounded side of each chestnut. Don’t be tempted to skip this step otherwise the nuts can and will explode in the oven. Arrange the chestnuts in a large baking tray in a single layer and bake them for about 25 minutes, until they split open.
2 Remove the chestnuts from the oven and leave them in the tray for a few minutes until they are cool enough to handle. Then, peel the nuts and throw away the skins. If they cool to much and harden so that they are difficult to peel, pop the nuts into the microwave for a few seconds and try again.
3 Roughly chop the peeled chestnuts, then set about drying them. This is easiest if you have a dehydrator, taking about 2 days. Failing that, finely chop the nuts, tip them on to a baking tray and pop them into the oven on its lowest setting for 6–8 hours.
4 Tip the dried nuts into a food processor and blitz them until they are very finely ground. Sift the ground nuts to remove any large pieces and whizz these a second time, repeating until you have created some top level flour.

Recipe courtesy of Fred Foster, extracted from Turnips’ Edible Almanac (published 6th October 2022 by DK).

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