Friday, February 27, 2009

Potato Gnocchi Two Ways


For February the Food Network Cooking Club Challenge gave participants three different comfort foods recipes to vote on to determine the challenge. The choices were Osso Bucco, Corn Chowder and Gnocchi. I was totally pulling for the Osso Bucco as it's forever been on my list of things to try, but alas Michael Smith's Potato Gnocchi won out. While it wasn't my first choice, I was definitely excited to try this since I do love gnocchi. The recipe as given includes Michael's recipe for a roasted tomato and olive sauce, but I decided to keep it traditional with a simple butter and sage sauce. I cut back on the gnocchi recipe by a 1/3 since I was just making this for the boy and I.

Michael Smith's Handmade Potato Gnocchi
from foodtv.ca

3 large baking potatoes (I used 2)
3 eggs, lightly whisked (I used 2)
3 cups flour (I used 2 cups)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (I used a heaping 1/4 tsp)
Sprinkled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
olive oil

1. Bake the potatoes until they’re tender when pierced with a fork, about an hour. Scoop the flesh out of potatoes and put into a large bowl.
2. While the potatoes are still a bit warm add the eggs, 2 cups of the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir and knead until a dough forms, adding more flour if it seems too sticky. You may not need all the flour called for as potato sizes and moisture content vary. It is important not to add too much flour, or the gnocchi will be too dry. (I slowly added in flour a couple Tbsp at a time to the right consistency)
3. Divide the dough into 4 even pieces and roll each piece into a 1” wide ‘snake’. Cut the long ‘snakes’ into 1” pieces. (I rolled one side of each dumpling across a fork and made a small indentation on the back side to help each piece cling to sauce better)
4. Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt it liberally. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and let them cook for 2-3 minutes, until they float to the surface. Drain well and toss with a bit of olive oil.


Butter Sage Sauce

8 Tbsps unsalted butter
1/4 cup sliced fresh sage
freshly grated parmigiano
salt & pepper to taste

1. In a small sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat. Once it's melted add in the sage and let cook until butter begins to brown, but not burn.
2. Toss gnocchi in butter sauce and serve topped with parmigiano.



These were so tasty! I will admit I tried the recipe twice because the first time I made the gnocchi in the late morning and cooked them in the evening. I left the finished dumplings on a baking sheet and they stuck, turning into an unattractive mass of dough when cooked. The second time was perfect though and I actually peeled, chunked and steamed the potatoes for my second go round. This was to save time, since I was trying during the week and didn't want to wait an hour for the potatoes to bake. I'd be interested to know if anyone has ever made and refrigerated or froze gnocchi before, because while not completely time intensive it's not something that will always be easy to make right before cooking.

After the success and ease of the standard potato gnocchi I decided it would be interesting to try to make them with sweet potatoes and whole wheat flour. This was initially in an attempt to make them healthier but also for a different take. I found that the sweet potatoes require alot more flour than a russet potato, but otherwise the recipe worked out almost exactly the same as with a white potato. I served them with a cinnamon butter and a dollop of mascarpone to play up the sweetness of the potato.


Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Gnocchi
adapted from Michael Smith's recipe
serves 2 (as a side dish)

1 large sweet potato
2 (or more) cups whole wheat flour
1 egg - lightly whisked
salt & pepper to taste
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1. Bake potato at 400F for 1 hour, or until tender. Scoop flesh out of skins into a large bowl.
2. While the potatoes are still a bit warm add the eggs, 1 cup of the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir and knead until a dough forms, adding more flour if it seems too sticky. You may not need all the flour called for as potato sizes and moisture content vary. It is important not to add too much flour, or the gnocchi will be too dry. I ended up using 2 full cups of flour.
3. Divide the dough into 2 even pieces and roll each piece into a 1” wide ‘snake’. Cut the long ‘snakes’ into 1” pieces. Roll one side of each dumpling against a fork while gently pressing one finger into the back, making a small indentation.
4. Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt it liberally. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and let them cook for 2-3 minutes, until they float to the surface. Drain well and toss with a bit of olive oil.

Cinnamon Butter

5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick
salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbsp mascarpone cheese - whipped (optional)
ground cinnamon (optional)

1. Place butter and cinnamon stick into a small saucepan. Melt butter over medium low heat. Let cook until just golden brown. Then remove from heat.
2. Remove cinnamon stick and toss with gnocchi. Serve topped with a dollop of whipped mascarpone and sprinkling of ground cinnamon.


The boy is not a huge fan of sweet potatoes and wasn't exactly looking forward to my take on gnocchi, but was pleasantly surprised when he tried them. The whole wheat flour adding a different texture to each dumpling which I found to be very enjoyable. They were served as a side dish to some leftover pork roast (stay tuned for a post on that this weekend) and some steamed broccoli. The sweet potato gnocchi went extremely well with the pork roast, especially when paring a bite of pork with a bite of gnocchi. I will be making both types of gnocchi again in the very near future. Check out the Food for Though blog on foodtv.ca (after February 28) to see how the other participants fared. Enjoy!

3 comments:

Natashya said...

It has not even been a week since I had gnocchi and you have made me want it again!
They look great, good luck on the challenge! (I won one last spring, Anna Olsen's Garlic Veggie Tart, I forget the name of it - got a Jamie Oliver book though!)

Carrie said...

I think Micheal's version looks awesome! I haven't ever made Gnocchi because it looks so difficult, I may work up the courage to try making it one of these days. Thanks for the tip about not letting the Gnocchi set out, good to know! Have fun with the challenge!

Jen H said...

Natashya - thanks for the wishes of luck. The sweet potato gnocchi are delish and you must try them!

Carrie - try the gnocchi they are so easy and yummy!