Friday, October 22, 2010

How to really impress a dinner date...!

It's true.

I spent a year in Italy watching Mauro make gnocchi at least twice a week; Potatoes, flour, egg yolks, salt. It is so simple and easy. Made simply without a special shape or design they were just cut from the roll of dough and Every time they were cooked it was like the perfect potato pillow, never mushy or chewy.

The best way to judge a good Italian restaurant in my mind is by the gnocchi. Such a simple thing yet so many times you are amazed at how they are chewy, to big, one big blob. There a few places that hit the nail on the head. Love what you are doing. That is the secret.

I had a few days off and wanted gnocchi. I didn't want to drive into town and get the only great gnocchi you can buy in general so I decided that I would do it myself! I have a good Italian cook book and some knowledge from watching some Italian chefs in the kitchen. The ratios were easy, about 2 pounds potatoes, 1-1 1/2 cup flour, 2 egg yolks, 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese (give or take) and salt.

You bake the potatoes for about an hour. You let them cool so you can peel and then mill or grate with a cheese grater. You don't just mash them because you want the potatoes to have no lumps.... You the add the egg yolks, 1 cup of flour, cheese and salt... You want to mix the dough thoroughly but not to much. The dough should be firm with a tiny bit of stickiness (It cannot be to sticky or you will get a bowl of mush after boiling). The more flour you add you have a greater chance of chewy gnocchi.

Take dough out of bowl and cut into about 6-10 equal sized pieces. Sprinkle flour on your counter and a little it of flour on a cookie sheet. Roll the dough into a snake, depending on the thickness you want your gnocchi to be. Then cut into equal sized "pillows." Once you cut the pieces put onto the cookie tray. Continue this same process for each of the large pieces. Cook immediately or refrigerate. Do not freeze until completely cooled or they will freeze to the tray and each other.
When you cook these you do so in a very large pot of heavily salted water. Add the salt to the boiling water. You do not put the salt in the cold water because it lowers the boiling temperature. Add Gnocchi and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Do not over cook or once again they will turn into mush.

My favorite way to eat these is with fresh tomatoes, garlic and olive. Another very traditional way is with pesto. Different regions in Italy served them baked, big, or with cream sauce, and with meat sauce is another way to serve them as well.

The response I got was better then the packaged ones. "Bomb-diggity!"

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