Culinary Class

How To Make Gnocchi

By: Erin Byers Murray
Kindred's gnocchi with turkey sugo
Images courtesy of Blake Pope

At his eponymous Davidson, North Carolina, restaurant, Kindred, chef Joe Kindred doesn’t put a label on the concept but does admit to leaning into Italian dishes and techniques—just take one bite of his lamb sugo over paccheri pasta, and you’ll swear you’ve traveled to the Tuscan countryside. This time of year, he’s often looking for ways to blend those techniques with more regional inspiration, and around Thanksgiving, that means finding creative uses for turkey.

            “One chef I worked with taught me how to make a Tuscan sugo, which instead of a sauce that’s enriched with butter or cream—which would mask the natural flavors—is more like a broth that’s been reinforced with a vegetable sofrito,” he says. And nothing soaks up a good sugo like classic potato gnocchi. “It’s like a really good chicken and dumplings that’s been cheffed up,” he says.

            The dish requires multiple steps, most important of which is starting with a smoked turkey—and Kindred insists on stuffing it before it goes on the smoker. “I’d never smoked a turkey before meeting my wife Katy’s dad, who does an amazing version on just your basic Weber,” he says. The stuffing goes into the cavity for smoking and is scooped out before the turkey is broken down. “The best part is that you get these really smoky, crispy outer bits.”

            For the sugo, Kindred says, “it’s all about layering and building those flavors.” He starts with a sofrito of vegetables and aromatics, plus the smoky carcass. After removing the bone from the broth, he uses a food mill to rice together the vegetables and broth, which thickens the sugo. “An Italian chef might freak out, but we do cheat a little by adding butter to ours,” he admits. Meanwhile, he’s made the gnocchi in advance, freezing them until it’s time to go into the boiling pasta water, which he says makes them super light and airy.

            Altogether, the finished dish of gnocchi smothered in sugo is a warm, comforting hug after a long few days of cooking. “It’s supposed to taste like Grandma’s turkey pot pie, with that smoky turkey being the star of the show,” he says.

Joe Kindred serves this dish alongside sliced smoked turkey and stuffing, but you can also use the recipe as a vehicle for leftover turkey. Find his recipes for smoked turkey and Thanksgiving stuffing here.

Smoked Turkey Breast, Gnocchi with Peas and Sherry, and Stuffing heading-plus-icon

For the gnocchi:
  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • plus more for dusting
For the turkey sugo
  • 1 whole smoked turkey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 white onion
  • cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 6 stalks of celery
  • cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 7 carrots
  • cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 9 garlic cloves
  • peeled
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (Kindred prefers San Marzano)
  • ½ cup Amontillado sherry
  • 64 ounces (2 boxes) chicken broth
  • 1 bouquet garni with thyme
  • sage
  • and rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon whole tellicherry peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
To finish
  • 2 cups turkey sugo
  • 3 cups frozen gnocchi
  • ¼ cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 cups picked turkey meat
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano
  • grated
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
special equipment: Cheesecloth and butcher’s twine

Make the gnocchi

gnocchi ingredients

Step 1

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes in oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until fork tender.

potatoes going into the mixer

Step 2

Remove potatoes and cut lengthwise to release steam. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a food mill on the lowest setting, rice potatoes without skins.

eggs being cut into the potatoes for gnocchi

Step 3

Using a bench scraper, cut egg yolks and salt into warm potatoes. Sprinkle 1 cup flour on top of potato mixture and cut it in with a chopping motion.

gnocchi dough forming

Step 4

Continue folding and gathering until mixture forms a soft dough. Gradually add remaining ¼ cup of flour as needed until dough feels hydrated and can be shaped into a dough ball.

rolling out gnocchi dough

Step 5

Clean workspace with bench scraper and dust two sheet pans with flour. Take about ⅕ of the dough, roll it into a ¾-inch rope, and cut 1-inch long gnocchi using bench scraper.

gnocchi dough on a sheet pan

Step 6

Transfer gnocchi to floured sheet pans. Repeat until all dough is cut, then freeze gnocchi on sheet trays.

Make the turkey sugo

turkey ready to be carved

Step 1

Remove and discard skin from turkey.* Carve out both turkey breasts and reserve.** Pick dark meat off bones and reserve for finishing. Set aside bones and scraps.

olive oil being poured into a pot

Step 2

In an 8-quart pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and garlic and sweat down until deeply caramelized. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized.

sugo cooking in a pot

Step 3

Deglaze pot with sherry, scraping up any bits from the bottom. Add chicken broth, turkey bones, and scraps. Bring to a gentle boil.

making a sachet with cheesecloth

Step 4

Make a sachet by placing herbs, peppercorns, and bay leaves in cheesecloth and tying it with butcher's twine; add to pot. Simmer sugo for 3 hours until vegetables are very soft.

sugo being poured

Step 5

Remove from heat, discard bones, and use a food mill to rice vegetables and broth into a mixing bowl.

Finish the dish

sugo in a sauce pan

Step 1

In a tall-sided sauté pan, bring turkey sugo to a gentle boil.

gnocchi falling into a sauce pan

Step 2

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add frozen gnocchi. Once half of gnocchi are floating, use a slotted spoon to transfer all gnocchi to sugo.

completed gnocchi

Step 3

Cook until sauce thickens and gnocchi are cooked through, stirring frequently. Add peas and turkey meat and cook until warmed through. Add herbs, cheese, butter, salt, and pepper. Toss together and serve immediately.

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