Thursday, February 18, 2010

Potato Gnocchi - Italy

The second dumpling we are going to explore is the potato gnocchi from Italy. “Gnocchi” (pronounced “NYOH-kee”) is an Italian word that means “lump” or “knot”, which probably refers to their shape. This type of gnocchi is very simple and usually has only four ingredients: potato, flour, eggs, and salt. (Some resources use the whole egg and some use only the yolk, so you decide.) It is believed that gnocchi has been prepared for thousands of years, since the time of the Roman Empire. Consequently, gnocchi may be the ancestor for many of the other types of dumplings. There are many variations of gnocchi – you can make it with potatoes, bread crumbs, semolina or vegetables and serve it in various sauces, butter, or cheese. Take a trip to Italy and enjoy potato gnocchi!

Helpful Hints! (‘Cause we all need them every once in a while)
To make the best possible dough for gnocchi it is important to use potatoes that have a lower moisture content, russet. If you don’t have russets, something like Yukon Gold will also work. This recipe calls for 1 ¼ cup of flour. You may need to use more or less depending on the moisture content of your potatoes.

Potato Gnocchi

Serves 4 to 6 (about 10 gnocchi)

2 pounds russet potatoes
½ teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks, beaten
1¼ cup all-purpose flour

Preparing the Dough:

1. Peel the potatoes so there are no visible discolorations. Cut each one into chunks. Place potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning.
2. Add potatoes to the saucepan and cover with water. Cover. Bring potatoes to a boil and cook until they are fork tender.
3. Drain the water; put the pan back on the stove. Leave the heat on for another 2 minutes to dry the potatoes out. Turn off the heat, add the salt and mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher until smooth. 4. Put the potatoes in a large bowl, and allow them to cool for 15 minutes.
5. Pour the beaten egg yolks over the cooled potatoes and mix well. Then sprinkle 1 cup of flour on top.
6. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to gently mix the ingredients together until combined.
7. Using your hands, knead dough until it holds together. It may be a little sticky. If it’s too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, as needed.
8. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each portion into a 10 inch long “rope”.
9. Cut the rope into 1 inch pieces.
10. On each piece, use or fingertip to make a small indentation in the center of each gnocchi. This helps it to retain any sauce you may serve with it.

 Cooking the Gnocchi
1. Bring another pot of water to a gentle boil.
2. Add one quarter of the gnocchi at a time to the boiling water. When the gnocchi floats to the top they are done. Use a slotted spoon to collect them and transfer to a plate.
3. Continue cooking the gnocchi in batches until they are all cooked.
4. Serve immediately with sauce or see the sautéed variation below.

Making Ahead
If you’d like to make gnocchi ahead of time, toss the cooked gnocchi with olive oil and refrigerate for up to 2 days. You can also freeze uncooked gnocchi in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Transfer to an airtight container. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to eat them, cook them the same as the unfrozen gnocchi.

Sautéed Gnocchi
1. Once the gnocchi has been cooked, you can sauté it in 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Over medium-high heat, sauté one quarter of the gnocchi at a time for about 2 minutes or until they develop a golden-brown crust. Sauce Time! We have three different types of sauces for your gnocchi. Pick your favorite or try them all! (We did)!

Pesto Alfredo

Serves 4 to 6.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 cup grated Romano cheese
1½ Tablespoon basil pesto
½ Tablespoon pine nuts
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil – this happens quickly. Add pesto and pine nuts and cook for 1 minute. Watch carefully, the pesto will burn.
2. Pour the cream into the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cheese, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Serve over cooked gnocchi.

Garlic Cream

Serves 4 to 6.

1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup butter
3 to 4 Tablespoons flour

1. Chop the onion and thinly slice the garlic.

2. Add the butter to a large sauté pan, cook the onion over medium heat until browned. Add the garlic.

3. Stir in the flour a little at a time until smooth and let it brown slightly. Slowly add the cream, stirring constantly. Heat this until it’s thickened. Pour over gnocchi and serve.

Marinara Sauce

Serves 4 to 6.

1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 can (28 ounce) whole or diced tomatoes (not drained)
2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté the onion until it’s translucent. Add the garlic and let it cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Simmer the ingredients together for 20 minutes. Toss with gnocchi and enjoy!

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