The biggest challenge so far in doing this project is trying to find recipes that are authentic to a given region. Culture, traditions, and food are so intertwined between areas that for most recipes, several regions make a claim for it. So, keep in mind that any of the recipes that I attribute to a specific region may in fact be traditional in another nearby region as well.
That definitely goes for gnocchi. Gnocchi is eaten all over Italy, but I'm cooking it during my Piemonte week because the area not only relies heavily on gnocchi and risotto rather than pasta, but because it has a traditional mushroom sauce that is served with gnocchi. The great part about gnocchi though is that you can do a thousand different things with it. I made the mushroom sauce for my husband, but for myself I added just a simple marinara sauce and parmigiano reggiano cheese. You could also eat gnocchi with a pesto sauce, just some olive oil and cheese, a meat sauce, an alfredo sauce, or anything else you can think of. Making the gnocchi from scratch is a challenge, and takes some practice to perfect in terms of technique, (I'm going to need a couple more tries to get it right) but it's totally worth it.
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup egg, slightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
- Fill a large pot with cold water and add salt. Place the potatoes (with the skin still on) in the pot. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until a fork can pierce them easily (about 40-50 minutes).
- Remove the potatoes from the water and peel each. You may want to use a kitchen towel to hold the potatoes if they are too hot. Mash the potatoes by either putting them through a potato ricer or by running the tines of a fork down the side of the potato. Don't over mash the potatoes. You just want them to be a fluffy potato base to work with.
- Spread the potatoes over a cutting board and let the potatoes cool for about 10 minutes.
- Using either a bowl or the cutting board, pull the potatoes into a soft mound and drizzle with the beaten egg. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the flour over the top. Fold the mixture onto itself until the egg and flour are well incorporated.
- Lightly knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky. Don't be afraid of adding more flour. If there isn't enough flour, the gnocchi will come out sticky and mushy.
- Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Gently roll each piece into a long, snake shaped piece about the thickness of your thumb.
- Cut the pieces ever 3/4 inch. Set aside and dust with a little more flour until ready to cook.
This is what the potatoes should look like after going through the ricer.
This is the gnocchi after the dough has been rolled and cut.
Gnocchi in Mushroom Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps minced
1/2 cup shallots, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups beef stock
- Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add the mushrooms, garlic and shallots. Saute about 10 minutes.
- Add stock. Simmer until slightly reduced, about 8 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the gnocchi. Bring a pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Drop the gnocchi into the water in batches, about 20 at a time. The gnocchi are done when they float up to the surface (this is when the gnocchi stay at the surface, not when they are being pushed up to the surface momentarily by the boiling water).
- Plate the gnocchi and spoon sauce over top.
(Ryan likes to overdo it with the sauce)
Here is my plate of gnocchi with some marinara sauce and parmigiano cheese:
As usual, I made more than Ryan and I could even think about eating. So, I ended up freezing about half the gnocchi to use another time. To freeze gnocchi, spread it out on a cookie sheet and then put the cookie sheet in the freezer for about 10 minutes, just until the gnocchi start to freeze. Then, put them into a plastic bag or tupperware container and freeze. To cook, just drop the frozen gnocchi into boiling water as you would fresh gnocchi.
Ryan's rating of Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce: 4. And believe me, it really is going to be a fight for the leftovers on this one!