Monday, June 1, 2015

Ricotta Gnocchi

Ann wanted me to make her some ricotta gnocchi yesterday after we got home from my youngest daughter's high school graduation party. Ann tasted them up at the restaurant at some point in the last 10 days or so and wanted some more. They are among the easiest gnocchi to make, my usual potato gnocchi made without flour being among the most difficult.

Ricotta gnocchi are so easy to make in fact that I had them made and the counter all cleaned up before the poaching water even came up to a simmer.

Ricotto Gnocchi; Asparagus, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Salad
I served the gnocchi pan-fried because I love the contrast between the crunchy outside and the soft creamy center. Accompanying them is a salad of asparagus, grape tomatoes, and goat cheese.

Ricotta, Pecorino Romano, Duck Egg, Olive Oil, Salt
Gnocchi is a feel thing, like making bread is a feel thing, and like making biscuits is a feel thing. There is no recipe in the world that can convey the exact recipe because there are too many variables: how big the egg is, how humid the day is, how moist or dry the flour is, how wet the ricotta is, and so forth. If you want to make these gnocchi, you're just going to have to get your hands dirty and try a couple of batches until you get the feel for it. That said, there's about a cup and a half of ricotta in this bowl with a duck egg, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and maybe a quarter cup of grated Pecorino Romano. I didn't measure anything: the whole recipe was dictated by how much ricotta I had left in the container. But try those measurements as a starting point for a small portion of gnocchi for four people.

Add Flour Until it Just Comes Together; Rest Five Minutes
Vigorously mix all the ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. Then stir in a cup or so of flour, gently, very gently. With your hands start bringing the dough together in a ball. Add little bits of flour as needed. When you have a ball such as the one above that you can just handle, let it rest for five minutes.

Roll out and Cut Gnocchi
Then cut the big ball into smaller chunks that you can roll out into logs with your hands. Cut into individual gnocchi. I use a bench knife for this. Use whatever works for you.

Poach Gnocchi in Small Batches until They Float
When your water is at a good simmer, but not a rolling boil, add the gnocchi in small batches as you see here. They will immediately sink to the bottom. In just a short while, they will start floating to the top. As the dumplings rise to the top, scoop them out with a ladle, spider, or slotted spoon. Drain well and transfer to a well-oiled sheet tray. Once all the gnocchi are poached, transfer them to the refrigerator to finish drying and to firm up.

Place on Well Oiled Sheet Tray; Chill in Refrigerator

Pan Fry
Film a hot heavy pan (here you see my black steel frying pan) with a little olive oil and add a layer of gnocchi. Turn to crisp until they are done to your liking. Enjoy!

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