Monday, December 27, 2010

Gnocchi...a little bit of work, a whole lot of delicious

This is I guess another edition of the "dinners on a budget variety", but don't be put off by that. I make these all the time, and they are extremely popular chez moi and with fam and friends. Technically, I would say that this is actually a potato dumpling recipe as I don't use the traditional gnocchi roller to give it the classic gnocchi shape, but if you feel so inclined, feel free.

Just a quick note before we get into the recipe: It is easiest to get the dough all ready to go, stuff it into a disposable pastry bag, and then cut the dough with scissors as you squeeze it out directly into the boiling (salted) water (just remember to give each one a little squeeze as you cut it to give it the indentation to hold the sauce), but if you don't have a disposable pastry bag (and are too cheap to invest the $3.25 for ten of them), then it works just as well to put portions of the dough on a floured board, hand roll them into long "snakes" of dough and then cut by hand (really, by knife). That is how I will lay it out in the recipe below, but I prefer the pastry bag method. There are countless ways to serve/sauce the gnocchi once they are cooked, and we'll get into the variations and my favorites post-recipe, just don't think gnocchi covered in red sauce is the limit of these pillows of deliciousness.

Basic Gnocchi Recipe

3 large baking (Idaho) potatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds), scrubbed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 tblsp fresh chopped thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, or as needed

1)Bake potatoes at 400 degrees until tender. Then, using a kitchen towel to not hurt your hands, peel the potatoes completely.
2)Use a ricer to finely mill potatoes. If you don't have a ricer, mash them with a fork until no lumps remain.
3)Allow potatoes to cool, then form a well with them on your cutting board. Whisk together egg, salt, thyme, pepper and nutmeg. Place egg mixture in center of the well, and work into the potatoes with your hands.
4)Gradually, start adding flour & cheese into the mixture, kneading with your hands. Don't overwork the dough, or the gnocchi will get tougher. About 4 minutes should be plenty. Your hands may get a little messy, but that's part of the fun. Just scrape whatever dough is on your hands back into the dough. Note: you may not need all of the flour, just keep working it in until you have a dough that is no longer sticky to the touch.
5)Flour your work surface, and place dough on board. Flour the top of the dough, and divide into 5-6 portions. Take each portion and gently roll it into a roughly 1/2 inch thick rope (you may need to add flour as you roll to keep the dough from sticking, then cut into gnocchi. Take your thumb and make an indentation in one side of each gnocchi (this helps it hold the sauce) and place on a floured sheet.
6)To cook the gnocchi, drop into boiling salted water, and cook them for about one minute AFTER they rise to the surface. Gently stir as you do this. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into ice water as you remove them. After they are cooled, drizzle with olive oil and you can keep them refridgerated until ready to cook.

To serve the gnocchi:

1)Remove from fridge and sit them out for 1/2 hour.
2)Brown some butter in a saute pan (just over medium heat until butter starts to brown and smell sort of like baking bread), and toss gnocchi in a even layer. Brown on both sides and then do one of the following

a)serve as is with the brown butter and some shaved parmesan
b)toss with your favorite (homemade of course) marinara or pesto sauce
c)Reduce 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 3 tblsp white wine by half, add 1/4 cup of gorgonzola, fontina, or gruyere cheese. Stir until cheese is incorporated, then toss in gnocchi
d)Cook some bacon lardons until crispy, add some finely chopped scallion and sage, then toss in gnocchi..................mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

As always, play around with how to sauce the dish. These little pillows of delight are quite versatile. Serve on a bed of spinach, or toss with some pulled roasted chicken and a little jus if you want more of an entree.

PS - for a great variation, add 1/4 cup of good quality ricotta to the gnocchi dough, you will need more flour to make it come together, but it is a great addition.

Noush, I expect reports of how your gnocchi came out by the end of the weekend :)

"The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later, you're hungry again"
---George Miller---

Enjoy, and let me know how the gnocchi come out

No comments:

Post a Comment