Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Homemade Gnochhi

One of my favourite (though rather labour intensive) things to make is gnocchi...those soft Italian pillows comprised of potato, flour and egg. Cheap, filling and delicious, they are the perfect food for a cold winter's night, especially when paired with red wine. In this instance, red wine was not only served in glasses, but was an integral part of the sauce, used to caramelize onions, its flavours intensified as the sugars cooked down.

When I make gnocchi, I do not use a recipe. To me, it's all about texture. Boil a few potatoes, then mash them down. You should try to bring out the starch as much as possible. Then add one or two eggs, depending on how many people you're serving, and enough flour to make the dough non-sticky and workable with the hands. Once this is done, create longish ropes out of the dough and start cutting pieces off. If you're picky about shape, you can roll these individual pieces in the palm of your hand. If you're even pickier, you can use a fork to make press marks.

For the sauce, I caramelized quite a few onions, cooking them at a high temperature, adding wine and water in small dollops, then bringing the temperature down in order to slowly finish them off. To finish the sauce off, I added roasted garlic, fresh basil and Italian sausage, though the latter is definitely optional. I often make a similar, vegetarian, recipe with cheese instead of sausage. Things like roasted bell peppers can also be delicious. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano to finish it off.

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