These bite-size potato puffs are so irresistible, everyone will be reaching for more at your next gathering. Inspired by classic potato gnocchi, the little dough balls are made from fork-tender russet potatoes and a touch of flour and egg, to just hold everything together. After a trip to the air fryer, the potato puffs emerge with a golden-brown exterior and soft, tender interior. Serve them as an appetizer with a creamy tomato vodka sauce for dipping.
For the potato puffs: Put the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook at a steady boil, adding more water to cover the potatoes if necessary, until the potatoes can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, 40 to 50 minutes. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, make the vodka sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and a generous pinch each of salt and black pepper and continue to cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vodka and tomato sauce. Return the saucepan to medium heat and simmer, stirring often, until all the alcohol cooks off, about 7 minutes. Add the cream and cook, stirring often, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and basil. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Peel the potatoes and cut the flesh into large pieces. Pass the potato flesh through a ricer (or the large holes of a box grater) into a mound on a clean work surface and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let the potatoes cool completely.
Sprinkle the flour over the mound of potatoes. Drizzle the egg over the flour and begin to combine with a fork until everything starts to clump together. Use your hands to gently knead and fully combine the ingredients, about 2 minutes; do not overwork the dough. Gather the dough into a ball.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut the dough into 4 wedges. Working with one wedge at a time, roll the dough into a log 3/4 inch in diameter on a lightly floured surface. Use a bench scraper or knife to cut the log into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a ball between your palms. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Transfer half of the potato dough balls to the basket of a 6-quart air fryer, spacing them apart, and spray generously with olive oil cooking spray. Cook at 350 degrees F, shaking the basket halfway through, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Repeat with the remaining potato dough balls. Serve with the warm vodka sauce on the side, for dipping.
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