“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Gnocchi, Gnocchi! Who's There?

So a while back on Name This Food! I asked the question, as I always do: What's this then, eh?

Well, it was a bit of a trick question.

See, the above picture is of raw, uncooked gnocchi, which as you may know, are little dumplingy-pasta-y thingies made out of potatoes. However, these ones above are purple. Because they are made from purple potatoes, like these...

Opinion varies as to the type of potato that produces the best gnocchi. Some Italians swear by very starchy ones, others say semi-waxy, so I say go with something in the middle and you can't go far wrong. Want purple ones? Try a variety called Vitelotte.

How to make gnocchi?

I thought you'd never ask.

1kg large  potatoes, all roughly the same size
Rock salt
350g plain flour
½ tsp fine salt
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
2 small eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5 and wash the potatoes. Dry them well and prick all over, then cover the bottom of a baking tray with a layer of rock salt and arrange the potatoes on top. Bake for about an hour until completely cooked through: this will depend on the size of the potatoes, so check them regularly.

Remove from the oven, and as soon as they're cool enough to handle (be brave), peel off the skin and discard.

Scatter 250g of the flour over a clean work surface along with ½ tsp fine salt and a pinch of nutmeg, if using. Use a potato ricer, or push the potatoes through a fine sieve from elbow height, on to the flour, then make a well in the centre and add the eggs. Mix together, adding more flour if necessary, but stopping as soon as it comes together into a soft dough.

Set the dough aside while you clean the work surface and dust it with a little more flour, then return and flatten it into a square about 1.5cm thick. Divide this into 1.5cm-wide strips, then roll these into sausage shapes.

Lay the sausages side by side, and cut them into 1cm-wide segments. Dust these with flour, and roll each over the tines of a fork, pressing your thumb into the back, so you have an indentation on one side and grooves on the other. Put the finished gnocchi on a flour-dusted tray.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, then turn down to a simmer, and tip in half the gnocchi. Stir, then wait for them to rise to the surface. Count slowly to 10, then remove with a slotted spoon, and tip into whatever sauce you're using.

 OK, so... what's the best sauce to serve with gnocchi?

Try a sage-butter sauce or a Morel sauce. You could even try a basil-tomato sauce if it's creamy. But there are no hard and fast rules, except - don't drown the gnocchi. You want an even coverage, but not a pond of sauce with gnocchi swimming in it. One clever bod even came up with the idea of making gnocchi with sweet potatoes, pan frying them so they are slightly crisp, then adding a creamy gouda sauce. Mmm mm mm! http://birchbarkfarm.com/2011/11/10/sweet-potato-gouda-gnocchi/

Anyway, what's next?

Name This Food!

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