Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gnocchi

You may remember a while back when I posted about winning the Urban Italian Cookbook.
Can you believe it has taken me this long to finally make something from this cookbook? Yes, I finally made gnocchi. I have really wanted to make them for a long time, but I had always heard how difficult they were and I was scared I would screw them up. I figured I would end up with some hard lumpy little balls. Another worry is that I think I have only had gnocchi one other time in my life, so I wasn't really sure what they were supposed to be like. I started these early on Sunday, thinking this was going to be an all day process. I was shocked, not only were they fairly simple to make, they were so quick they could also easily be one of my new regular weeknight meals. What I liked about this recipe is that it was really simple and to the point. I have seen a lot of gnocchi recipes that require rolling them with a fork and that seemed so time consuming. 
This recipe makes a lot of gnocchi. I had gnocchi covering cookie sheets and wax paper covered countertops all over my kitchen. The amazing part is that they are so light and airy, we ate nearly all of them! Yes this entire recipe between the two of us and it wasn't that hard. I cooked the first batch and we were still hungry, so I cooked a second, and then a third...
I had hoped to freeze some for later, but I barely put away one serving in the freezer. 

Gnocchi
from Urban Italian

FOR THE GNOCCHI:
4 large Idaho potatoes (about 2 pounds), scrubbed
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FOR THE SAUCE:
3 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

METHOD TO PREPARE THE GNOCCHI:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 425°.
Prick each potato several times with a fork; place them on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan large enough to hold them all in a single layer. Bake in the oven until the potatoes are tender enough to be easily pierced with a small knife, about 1 hour.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool just enough so that you can handle them, about 6 to 10 minutes. They should still be steaming when you cut them open. (If you let the potatoes get too cool, the proteins in the egg won’t bind with them, and your gnocchi will fall apart, or you’ll have to add too much flour and you’ll end up with chewy potato bullets.)
Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Discard the skins. Pass the potato flesh through a food mill or press through a ricer set over a medium bowl.
Using your hands, gently stir the beaten egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil, melted butter, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the flour in with the potato. Stir only enough to combine: anything more will overwork the dough, and your gnocchi will come out tough (like the frozen-in-a-bag variety). Work the mixture into a smooth ball; if the doughseems a little too moist for this, add a touch of flour (the moisture level in every potato is different, so every batch of gnocchi will be a bit different too). The dough should feel soft and slightly tacky but not sticky—sort of warm and sexy.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Working quickly, cut the ball of dough into inch-thick slices, using a dough cutter if you’ve got one, or a regular butter knife if you don’t.
Roll each slice between your hands to form a ball.
Using the palms of your hands, roll each ball back and forth on your work surface until it extends into a long “snake,” 14 to 16 inches long and about 3/4 inch thick. (This isn’t a precise measurement. You can make your gnocchi whatever size you want—this is just how I like ’em.) Keep adding more flour to the work surface as you go to help as you roll the dough.
Cut each snake in half and roll it out again, thinner, to the same length. Sprinkle the rolled-out snakes with flour to keep them from sticking.
Cut each snake into gnocchi-sized pieces (I like mine to be about 1 inch long), and place the pieces on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover this with a cloth or plastic wrap until you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, so they don’t dry out. Gnocchi are delicate little things; fresh ones should be cooked the day they are made, or at the very latest, the next day. Frozen and stored in an airtight container, they’ll keep for up to a month.

TO COOK THE GNOCCHI:
This step is just as important as the preparation: tender gnocchi require careful attention.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
Add the gnocchi all at once. Stir around once gently, so that the water is aerated and the dough doesn’t become glued together like one big gnoccho.
Let the gnocchi cook until they bob to the surface (about 1 to 2 minutes); wait 1 more minute and then, using a slotted spoon or spider, remove the gnocchi. (Don’t dump the gnocchi out into a colander the way you would spaghetti. All the gnocchi will crash onto each other and break.)

TO PREPARE THE SAUCE AND FINISH THE DISH:
While the water is boiling for the gnocchi, heat the tomato sauce in a pan over medium heat and roughly chop the basil.
Remove the tomato sauce from the heat. Put the gnocchi right into the sauce when you remove them from the boiling water.
Toss the gnocchi in the sauce so every piece is thoroughly coated. Add the olive oil, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and basil and mix well.
Serve as quickly as possible.

David enjoying a little bread with his gnocchi.

2 comments:

  1. boo, i found you...see what being at home with the stomach flu does to a person. even with this stomach bug your gnocchi look fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I made gnocchi once last year, and although "alright" they weren't great and I didn't go back. This recipe looks loads better though, another one for me to steal!

    ReplyDelete

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