The G is Silent

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.

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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.

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Potato Gnocchi

chefgeorgehirsch.comGeorge 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.

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Gnocchi

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Gnocchi is an excellent accompaniment for meat and poultry dishes. When prepared right, they are light as pillows, like dumplings. The secret is to not 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 them, making a softer dough. Gnocchi is quite popular in the Mediterranean, with each country having their own version. I share below my version of Gnocchi which pairs well with bitter greens, like spinach.

gnochi-georgehirsch.jpg

Potato Gnocchi

Recipe Chef George Hirsch | chefgeorgehirsch.com

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 dough back 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.

Gnocchi with Spinach

recipe Chef George Hirsch | Makes four servings

 1 lb. Gnocchi

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 cups fresh spinach, washed

4 fresh plum tomatoes, split de-seeded & chopped

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Fresh ground black pepper

Heat a large pot with boiling water.

Pre heat sauté pan to medium temperature.  Add olive oil, garlic, onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach and cover, reduce heat and cook for one minute. Remove from burner until the gnocchi is cooked. 

Add Gnocchi to rapidly boiling water. Simmer, until all gnocchi float to the top. Then cook one more minute.

Remove gnocchi from water and place directly into sauté pan.  Add fresh plum tomatoes and 1 cup of water from gnocchi pot, heat gnocchi with spinach sauce for 2 minutes.

Serve Gnocchi & Spinach topped with cheese, basil and pepper.

Make ahead Tip: Place any remaining uncooked Gnocchi in a container, dust with corn meal and freeze until you are ready to boil.

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Gnocchi with Crispy Sausage & Swiss Chard

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Enjoy this warming dish made with simple, yet quality ingredients to prepare for any occasion

George’s Gnocchi with Crispy Sausage & Swiss Chard

Makes 6 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | georgehirschlifestyle

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

8 ounces Italian Sausage, cooked whole, cooled then sliced thin

4 cups Swiss Chard, Tuscan Kale, or spinach; washed, green leaves roughly chopped

8 cloves caramelized garlic

2 apples, 1 green / 1 red, chopped small

2 fresh sage leaves

1 pound gnocchi

½ cup of water from gnocchi

¼ cup Parmesan cheese or to taste

Fresh ground black pepper 

Pre heat a large sauté pan to medium high heat.

Heat a large pot of water to a boil.

To the sauté pan, add 1 Tablespoon olive oil, sliced sausage and cooked until sausage begins to crisp and brown. Remove sausage and add remaining olive oil, kale, apples and sage. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until kale and apples soften.

Meanwhile, add gnocchi to the boiling water and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Remove gnocchi with a strainer and add to the kale. Top with crispy sausage and Parmesan cheese.

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