Gnocchi, pronounced n-yo-key. This dish reminds me of one of my favorite places on earth - Castelletto di Montebenchi, the heart of this small medieval city in the Tuscany Region. One of my chef friends, Antonio from Northern Italy makes the best gnocchi ever! When I can't connect with Antonio, I just make my own.
Gnocchi are excellent accompaniments for meat and poultry dishes. When prepared right they are light as pillows. The secret is not to over mix the dough and to use just the right amount of flour. There are so many ways to make gnocchi, I prefer to bake the potatoes instead of steaming to make a softer dough.
chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle
2 pounds russets (baking potatoes)
Approximately 2 cups flour (variable)
1 large egg
A pinch of sea salt
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake potatoes until easily pierced with a fork or a paring knife will easy slip through potatoes. Cool slightly, then peel the potatoes.
Mash them while they’re still warm (a potato ricer or food mill works best). Season the potatoes with a pinch of salt and slowly knead in enough flour to obtain a fairly firm, smooth, non-sticky dough; exactly how much flour depends on the moisture from the potatoes. Add the egg, and enough flour so the dough does not stick to your hands.
Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes, as it will resemble regular pasta dough. Divide the dough into four pieces.
Roll the dough out into a rope shape about 2/3 of an inch thick, cut the rope into one-inch pieces, and gently score the pieces crosswise with a fork to obtain slight ridges. With your finger, gently roll the pressed doughback off the fork. This may take a little practice. If the dough sticks to the fork, dip the fork in flour before you press the dough against it. Making this shape will help the gnocchi grab on to the tasty sauce it’s served with.
Cook the gnocchi in abundant salted boiling water, removing them with a slotted spoon a minute or two after they rise to the surface. Drain them well and serve them with a few leaves of sage, melted unsalted butter and Parmesan, or meat sauce, or pesto sauce.
Serve immediately while they are full of steam. The gnocchi are wonderfully light when hot. Once they cool off they become dense like a tire without air.
Make ahead Tip: Place any remaining uncooked Gnocchi in a container, dust with corn meal and freeze until you are ready to boil.
George's Spicy Tomato Sauce
Makes 4 cups |chefgeorgehirsch.com
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped pancetta
10 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/2 chopped onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup prosciutto, chopped fine
2 cups canned plum San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
1/4 cup dry white wine
2-4 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
10-12 fresh basil leaves, lightly torn
Grated Parmesan cheese
Heat a saucepan and heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook until it becomes light brown. Add the garlic, onion and prosciutto and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, white wine, hot pepper flakes, basil and black pepper, stir well and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. You can regulate the spiciness of the dish by adding more or less hot pepper flakes.