Friday, July 23, 2010

Gnocchi, Potato

Gnocchi (nyaw-kee)-delicate little pillows cooked briefly in salted water and sauced, served as a first course in place of pasta, risotto, or soup. Oddly enough, however, I never saw Adriana make the traditional potato gnocchi, as it turned out that no one in her family cared for them. (except me)
What she did instead was a culinary feat of painstaking labour. She made the dough in much the same way as one would make potato gnocchi, but then rolled bits of it into long ropes about the thickness of your index finger, and then cut each rope into lengths of app. 2 to 4 inches. Each length was then twisted into an interesting shape. She would make rings, twists, crescents, whatever occured to her, and each shape was placed on a lightly-floured teatowel to air-dry a bit.
Then, when it was almost time to call everyone to the table, she would set to work frying these in shallow oil (not olive oil--I use Canola) until they were golden and crispy on the outside. Not your traditional gnocchi, not served with sauce but as a side dish for cutlets for example, or chicken or fish. We all loved them, and my own children did as well once I mastered the technique back home in BC.
I know it sounds daunting, but it's kind of fun, especially if the kids help.
So--once again, no specific amounts. You'll get the hang of it.
Boil 4 or 5 potatoes in their jackets. Cool them. Take the skins off. Mash them in a big bowl.
Grated Parmesan or Montasio cheese, plenty of it--probably at least 1 cup. This, and the baking powder, is what differentiates these from potato gnocchi that will get boiled instead of fried.
Two egg yolks or one whole egg and one yolk.
Mix this well, then add a teaspoon of baking powder, then white flour enough to make a pliable dough..not too stiff.
Knead it just a bit on a floured surface.
Now prepare a floured teatowel or sheet of waxed paper to receive the little gnocchi.
When it's almost time to eat, prepare a paper-towel lined plate on which to place the fried gnocchi to blot the excess oil. Fry them in batches.
Arrange on a serving platter and garnish platter with lemon wedges.
Now sit down and rest. Chances are your kids won't eat anything else.

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