Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gnocchi with Thyme Butter Sauce

Yesterday, the Queen of Quirky tweeted that she was making gnocchi. FROM SCRATCH, y'all. I've never made gnocchi from scratch before! And why not? I love me some gnocchi, and that stuff isn't very cheap. It comes in itty bitty packages too, so you need two to make a decent meal. Forget that!

Needless to say, when she posted a link to the recipe, I was all over it.

First, you need two pounds of potatoes.

Yes, I weighed them, because I'm a nerd like that. I also happen to really love my little food scale. I bought it for Weight Watchers, and now use it to measure flour for baking. I know.

Go ahead and poke your taters then bake them until they're fork tender.

Go ahead and cut them into halves or quarters lengthwise so that they'll cool faster.

When they're cool enough to handle, but still warm (according to the recipe you want to work with warm potatoes) scoop them from their skins. I just used a big soup spoon to do it.

Either put them through a potato ricer, or give them a good mashing manually, followed by a fork fluffing.

Before I forget - put a big pot of water to boil. Once it comes to a boil toss in a handful of salt. I read somewhere that the water to boil pasta should be "salty as the sea." You want to be sure to put the salt in AFTER it's boiling if you don't want the lovely white spots on the bottom of your pot like I have. Oops.

Back to your potatoes - add two egg yolks, a generous pinch of salt, and 1 1/2 cups (188 g) all purpose flour.

Use your hands to mix that all together until it forms a pretty good ball.

Working with a small amount at a time, roll the dough out into long thin logs. Cut into pieces about 3/4" long, and make an indentation in each piece with your thumb.

Put them on a baking sheet that has been lined with waxed paper and/or sprinkled with flour while you work. After you've gotten them all made, place them into your pot of salted boiling water. Wait for them to float to the surface, then boil for another minute.

I had to do this in two batches. After I pulled them out of the water with my spider, I set them back on the baking sheet until I was done with the sauce. I was just sort of winging it at this point and trying to use up stuff I already had in the house.

Ah, sauce. What better way to start pasta sauce than with garlic? Take three cloves, peel them, and put them through your garlic press. Next, get out a large saute pan and set on medium heat.

Isn't it PURTY? Don't you know those nice folks at All Clad sent us a bigger version of the 2 quart pan we got to test out (see my review here)for the d5 release. This one is three quarts and the same size as my original All Clad saute pan, which means I'll be able to get a lot more use from it. It totally made my day when the UPS man dropped it off the other day - it's just fantastic! I've been itching to make something slightly more interesting than the home fries I made in it yesterday. :)

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in your pan.

Once it's melted, toss in the garlic.

Let the garlic cook for a few minutes until it and the butter starts to brown slightly. Add 1 tsp fresh thyme and give it a good stir.

I had some cooked chicken breast leftover from dinner two nights ago, so I chopped it up and tossed that in the pan as well. If you didn't eat meat though I'm sure you could just skip that step!

I sauteed that for a couple of minutes so that the chicken would have a chance to take on the flavors of the thyme and garlic.

Go ahead and toss in your gnocchi and give it a good stir - gently! You just want them to get all nice and coated in the butter.

Finally, sprinkle on some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. I probably used somewhere between 1/4 cup and a 1/2 cup here. I didn't measure - just took the Microplane and my chunk of cheese and grated until it looked good. Mix in all that cheesy goodness and you're done!

Yes, those are celery tops used as a garnish. They were the only leafy green thing I could find in the fridge besides baby bok choy. I wasn't thinking those would look very nice, so celery tops it was.

Ah, and now for the Things I Learned portion of the program...

Although the recipe states that you can mash the potatoes by hand if you don't have a potato ricer, I will not be making this again until I get one. My gnocchi was LUMPY. You couldn't really tell in the finished product (unless you directly bit into a large piece) but it made the rolling out of the dough a pain.

For that matter, let's add that you should bake your potatoes in the OVEN and not in the MICROWAVE like some lazy butt (me) did. My potatoes got sort of dehydrated and gluey, and some parts were a bit tough about the edges. That may have also contributed to my lumps.

I bake a LOT. Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows that. A lot of recipes call for separated eggs, but then I feel bad for wasting the unused part. Sometimes I would feed the yolks to the dogs. I read somewhere that you could freeze leftover yolks and whites for later use, so I decided to try that.

Let me tell you - NEVER AGAIN. The entire consistency of the yolk changed once it thawed. It was a very thick, almost gelatinous, mass. I added a little water to it to try to thin it out, but I don't think it helped. As a result, my dough was very crumbly and I had to add more water to it so that it would be okay for rolling out. I did this by wetting my hands and then working the dough so that I was adding as little water as possible.

The frozen herbs, I'm happy to report, worked just fine. I let my little 1 tsp cube defrost, then squeezed the water from it. When it came time to add it to my sauce, it was a little clump, but the butter and a quick stir with the back of my spoon and it was okay.

The finished product was good - in fact, it was a LOT better than I thought it was going to be, due to the lumps/yolks/water issues. It was also VERY filling. I couldn't finish that portion that I served for myself.

My husband, however, was a different story! :)

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Blogger Wendy said...

yummy!! I'm trying this this weekend....Thanks!

7:50 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I was planning on cooking sweet and sour pork tonight but instead I will be trying this recipe! Thanks for the anticipated fun and yummy meal! I'll keep you posted on how mine turns out.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you tried it too! I highly recommend a ricer. I think it helped mine be light and fluffy tasting. But yours looked prettier by far. I'm so bad at making things look pretty!

11:23 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

That looks tasty...I have been wanting to make homemade gnocchi for awhile doesn't really seem too difficult! I don't have a potato ricer, but I have a spaetzle maker...I might have to try it with that!

3:01 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Gnice! (Sorry, I just couldn't resist - I'm a big dork)

too funny - my verification word is "shisl". your gnocchi looks delish, fo shisl! (see, told you i'm a big dork)

8:03 PM  
Blogger Samara Link said...

you're kind of a bad ass for all this handmade cooking you're doing. that's awesome. glad to hear freezing leftover herbs worked. i will absolutely be trying that. i hate it when i buy some and only use it for one recipe. thanks for the tip!

2:36 PM  

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