|Gnocchi di Patate con Piselli e Gorgonzola|
Recently, it occurred to me that I've profiled not one, but two squash gnocchi dishes in addition to a ricotta gnocchi dish but I had yet to review a more common version of gnocchi: one made with potatoes. It wasn't a complete oversight because I had profiled potato gnocchi on both prior blogs, however there were several forces that had conspired together to bring this dish to fruition.
A couple of weeks ago #SundaySupper paired with OXO to preview the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. To do so, they held a Google+ hangout where Katie of Ruffles & Truffles and Isabel of Family Foodie demonstrated OXO's new poultry lifter and kitchen twine dispenser; Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen demonstrated OXO's new potato ricer and Amy of Kimchi Mom demonstrated their new mandoline. OXO also generously donated the demonstrated items to be given away via a drawing and I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE WON! During the hangout, the potato ricer was discussed as a tool for making mashed potatoes for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday but I thought that it would be perfect for this application. I'm also excited about the mandolin because it has a setting that will julienne vegetables because I've struggled with consistency in the past.
Also, have you seen the show On the Menu which airs on TNT? Contestants are home cooks that are competing to get their original dish sold at that week's featured restaurant chain in addition to a cash prize of $25,000. Well, last week's featured restaurant is Buca di Beppo. This episode was unusual because the restaurant decided to declare two final dishes as winners instead of just one. One was a gnocchi dish, but I was almost yelling at my TV watching its preparation because of some ill-advised technique that was utilized.
Speaking of technique, I employ Chef Anne Burrell's strategy to prepare potato gnocchi. The object of the game, so to speak, is to use as little flour in the gnocchi dough as possible because it's the difference between light and fluffy gnocchi and heavy and dense gnocchi. More on that later.
Demonstrate the proper way to prepare potato gnocchi and to convey my appreciation for winning the giveaway by breaking in the potato ricer.
I adapted the gnocchi method from pages 105 to 106 of Cook Like A Rock Star by Anne Burrell with Suzanne Lenzer. Food Network also has her recipe online which can be found here and I also recommend watching Chef Burrell demonstrate the dish on YouTube because she also explains why she instructs you to utilize her method. The sauce is adapted from page 82 of Lidia's Favorite Recipes by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali.
5 large russet potatoes
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 to 3 cups all-purpose flour, as needed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 ten-ounce box frozen peas, thawed
6 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1. Roast your potatoes. Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Pierce each potato on all sides with a fork, four to five times total. Place the potatoes on a aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven until they are fork tender, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Once the potatoes have finished, peel the skins from the potatoes and pass them through a potato ricer onto a parchment-lined sheet pan in an even layer. Placed the riced potatoes in the refrigerator to cool completely.
2. Prepare the gnocchi dough. Beat the eggs together with 3/4 cup parmesan cheese and 1 pinch kosher salt, then pour over the cooled riced potatoes. Cover the potatoes and egg mixture with 1 cup flour, then bring the mixture together with your hands. Continue to knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary until the dough is a homogeneous mixture and tacky, but still moist.
4. Cut the dough into individual gnocchi. Roll the dough into the shape of a log on a cutting board, then cut the log crosswise into 1 inch sections. Roll each section into the shape of a rope approximately 3/4-inch thick. Slice the ropes crosswise again into 1/2-inch pieces onto a sheet pan dusted heavily with flour in a single layer. This dish can be made ahead up to this point, because the gnocchi need to be cooked or frozen immediately. If you're freezing the gnocchi, do so on the sheet pan first, then once they're frozen transfer them to a resealable plastic bag.
5. Boil the gnocchi, prepare the sauce and finish the dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cream and chicken stock and bring to a simmer, then add the peas. Continue to reduce the sauce for an additional 5 minutes, then add the Gorgonzola. Stir until thickened, then keep warm over low heat while the gnocchi cooks. Once the water reaches a boil, add the gnocchi. Continue to boil them once they float to the top until they swell, an additional minute or two. Remove the gnocchi with a spider, toss with the sauce, serve in warmed bowls and garnish with additional Parmesan cheese.
During the On the Menu episode, I cringed when I saw the contestant use a microwave oven to cook her potatoes before ricing them. I hope I do not sound too pretentious when I note here that I've never found radiation to be very tasty. Chef Bastianich also has a potato gnocchi recipe in her book I referenced above on page 81 but I was surprised to find that she boils her potatoes before ricing them. I have been told that using wet heat to soften potatoes will ultimately lead to heavier gnocchi because the dough will absorb more flour which is the reason why I like Chef Burrell's version of roasting them, ricing them while they're hot then making the dough when they're cold.
The potato ricer performed well, but I recommend cutting your vegetables into small sizes before passing them through because the ricer is difficult to operate with large pieces. I also recommend filling the chamber up only half way for optimum performance. Ultimately, it's much easier to use than the food mill I have which I used prior to owning the ricer.
The dish itself was a success, with Mrs. Stuntman requesting I prepare it again. I wasn't very surprised by this because I saw many versions of this flavor pairing online which is probably why Chef Bastianich included it in her cookbook too.