I’m thinking gnocchi…

I first came across this incredible dish while working in a french restaurant while I was still in culinary school. Potatoes, eggs, flour, cheese blended, kneaded, formed into the perfect vehicles for whatever kind of sauce you’re using. 

Up until last night, I thought I made a pretty fair gnocchi. Then I had the Pesto Gnocchi at my favorite area restaurant, Amy’s Bakery & Bistro in Scottsdale. (www.amysbakingco.com).  Feather-light with just enough tooth to give them substance, these seemed to float above the sauce as if they were yeast raised.

Asking Amy for her recipe would be untoward (tempted though I was), so I went to the cookbooks in search of one to replace my own…it’s time to update my game. I’m trying this one first:

Gnocchi Parisienne

Serves 6

1C water

5T unsalted butter

1/3C whole milk

2 1/2t kosher salt

1 1/2t Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4t Piment d’Espelette or sweet paprika

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

2C all-purpose flour

5 large eggs

5 oz. Gruyère cheese, finely shredded, about 2 cups

2T snipped chives

3/4C heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 400F. Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil.

In a medium saucepan, combine the 1C water with the butter, milk, salt, mustard, garlic, paprika and nutmeg and bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture boils, add the flour all at once.  Beat the dough with a wooden spoon over moderate heat until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the side of the pan. Cook, stirring to dry out the dough, about 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Beat the eggs into the dough one at a time, beating until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in 2C of the Gruyère and the chives.

Set a bowl of ice water near the stove. Using a large spatula, transfer the gnocchi dough to a piping bag fitted with a 3/4″ rough tip. Carefully hold the bag over the pot of gently boiling water and press out the dough, using a small, sharp knife to cut into one inch lengths before it drops into the pot. Simmer the gnocchi for 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the ice water bath to stop to cooking. Drain the gnocchi and transfer to paper towels; pat dry.

In a 9-by-9-inch baking dish, arrange the gnocchi in a single layer. Pour the cream on top; sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Gruyère. Bake the gnocchi for 20 minutes, until the cream has thickened slightly and the tops are browned. Served hot.

Make ahead: The gnocchi can be prepared through step 4 and chilled for up to 1 day.

Recipe: Barbara Lynch, www.barbaralynch.com as published in “Best of the Best Cook Book Recipes”, Food & Wine, American Express Publishing Corporation, 2010

Photo: inspiredbites.blogspot.com

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. All rights reserved (c) 2011

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