Saturday, September 14, 2013

Gnocchi

Gnocchi served in very classical Italian style - with Pomodoro sauce and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top. It's a good way to satisfy craving for something authentically Italian.

Blog's Category: DK Challenges, International, Vegetarian




Intro

September's Gnocchi challenge at The Daring Kitchen has opened something new in me I didn't know about before. Really, I didn't know that I'm such a big Italian cuisine fan until I cooked these gnocchi. I admit - I never made gnocchi before, but whatever I tried out in a restaurants or bought in a store, called "gnocchi", never excited me much. Nevertheless, as my Ukrainian potato dumplings stays not too far from concept of gnocchi, I didn't have much trouble cooking gnocchi for a first time.

After thorough research on a subject, I decided to take the classic route of cooking basic gnocchi and serving them with Pomodoro tomato sauce made of famous Sun Marzano tomatoes. As a base for the sauce recipe, I took a recipe from Italian cookbook writer Marcella Hazan. Interestingly enough, the recipe does not include salt. Whether it's mistake or purposely omitted, I obediently didn't put any salt in my sauce. The entire recipe, although simple, is somewhat strange but trust me, stick to it, and you will end up with the best tomato sauce ever.

Honestly, I hate dealing with anything involving flour flying around my kitchen and wooden pin particularly. Every time I do this I promise myself never come back to this recipe. In case with gnocchi, I'm not so sure anymore - resulting dish is so tempting now that I may be cooking gnocchi pretty soon.. again.


What is it?

It's Italian style potato dumplings served with different sauces and toppings, from pesto, tomato sauces and cheeses to a more elaborate sauces including mushrooms and so on. Recipe below is "basic classic" - gnocchi topped with simple Pomodoro sauce and quality parmesan cheese.


Taste Description

In my humble opinion of non-Italian (though a big fan of Mediterranean cuisine in general), this gnocchi served with this sauce and this cheese, resembles itself quintessential taste of Italian cuisine. 
You will taste light tones of potato in a tender buttery nuggets of gnocchi.
Sugar in a sauce, merged with light natural acidity of san-marzano tomatoes, gives to the sauce fruity undertones. This fruitiness is amplified beautifully by absence of salt in a sauce (surprise!). 
Powerful parmigiano-regiano and fresh parsley bring whole lot of additional taste and flavor to a "party". All these create unforgettable pleasure you will crave again right the next day.



How to Serve

Serve hot or warm, right away. 

Keep in mind that, left uncooked, gnocchi will change their color to grey-ish and lose their shape in a fridge unless you freeze them. I prefer to cook all my gnocchi right after making them. 

FYI: my cooked gnocchi with all the toppings (I managed to save some for the next day) were still amazing the next day when I rewarmed them in a microwave.



Gnocchi



Gnocchi
  • 5 large Idaho potatoes 
  • 1.5 c + more flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
Sauce
  • 1 28 oz can of whole San-Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp sugar
Topping
  • shaved Parmisiano-Regiano
  • freshly grated black pepper
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped

Sauce

- Make sauce first: place all sauce ingredients into small pot, bring to a boil then turn heat down and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Done!

Gnocchi

 - Microwave (or bake) potato until soft throughout when pierced with knife. If cooking in a microwave, calculate cooking time allowing 4 minutes per potato. Add 1/2 cup of water on a cooking plate.

- Let potato to cool down just until you can handle it and peel them.

- Using ricer or fine grater, grate/mash potato onto the generously floured surface (large bowl) were you'll be making dough.

- Make dough: break egg on a top of potato, sprinkle 1 tsp of salt over and 1 cup of flour. Mix all up and kneed a dough by adding remaining 0.5 c of flour until you get soft pliable dough. Don't kneed for a too long. 

- Make gnocchi: divide dough into 8 wedges. Working one by one, roll each wedge into 2/3 " wide ropes and cut it into 1/2" pieces. Using fork or gnocchi maker roll each piece into small ribbed, cup shaped little dumplings (see pictures below).

- Divide into three batches. Cook in batches: throw the batch into a boiling water; then turn heat down as soon as water starts boiling again to keep water barely boiling (or even not boiling just yet). Gnocchi cooks quickly - they are ready when all of them rise from the bottom to a top.

- With a wide slotted spoon, fish all gnocchi out into a large serving plate, drizzle with good olive oil to prevent them sticking together, shake a little bit and then spoon sauce on a top. Top with parsley, black pepper and shaved parmisiano-regiano. Enjoy!



Notes

- Have your sauce (it can be prepared the day before), shaved cheese, finely chopped parsley and grated pepper ready before you start on making gnocchi.

- I cooked my potatoes in a microwave - they come out just right consistency - fully cooked, a bit dry exactly the way I needed them to be.


- Do not keep your uncooked gnocchi (or dough for gnocchi) in a fridge - it will get dark and runny. It's better to cook all your gnocchi right away. Leftovers of cooked gnocchi (with or without sauce) will keep in your fridge for a few days. Rewarmed in a microwaved they are still yummy.


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IN PICTURES


Real San-Marzano tomato are grown on fertile volcanic soil in Italy. Supposedly they are better than regular tomatoes (should be! - price for the can of them is 3 times higher than for plain tomatoes; the lowest I found is 3.99!) I'll make Pomodoro sauce using regular tomatoes and will tell you if there will be any difference ;)


I love-love-love the simplicity of this sauce, it's mild though very bold-flavored taste. Also I will try to make it next time with olive oil instead of butter. I'm curious how it will play...

To save time, I microwaved my potatoes. They come out exactly the way I need -on a dry side, fluffy after I grated them on a fine grater.








Final dough has to be soft, somewhat wet inside.



On a right, the ideal shape for gnocchi.





For one batch I added shallot butter I had at a time, for another - a little olive oil. Olive oil wins!

I made my pomodoro sauce the day before and reheated just before use. Yummmmmm



..I wish I had it for my lunch today...

Blog-checking lines: Todd, who is The Daring Kitchen’s AWESOME webmaster and an amazing cook, is our September Daring Cooks’ host! Todd challenged us to make light and fluffy potato Gnocchi and encouraged us to flavor the lil pillows of goodness and go wild with a sauce to top them with!

4 comments:

  1. You did a beautiful job shaping those!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tomato...parmiggiano... home made gnocchi.. what else??
    I love the shape of your gnocchi, very very well done !!!!
    (And you use real Italian tomatoes, that's nice)

    ReplyDelete
  3. G'day LOVE your step by step photos, true!
    Congrats about completing the challenge and based on your photo, I could go for some of this now too!
    Cheers! Joanne
    Viewed as Part of The Daring Kitchen Cooks Challenge Sept 2013

    ReplyDelete

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