Sunday, April 3, 2011

#24 - Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

One of the greatest restaurants in the world is the Ristorante Antico Francischiello da Peppino in Massa Lubrense on the Bay of Naples. When we went there on our honeymoon, the Pennette alla Sorrentina that Johnny had raved about were no more, as they had been replaced with gnocchi instead. Those were equally delicious, and we were super excited when Nori and Gio gave us their version of the recipe.

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

From Nori and Gio, inspired by Franceschiello's
We've never made gnocchi before, so we took all the advice we could get, and the first piece we received was to use Yukon Gold potatoes. The recipe calls for 2 1/4 lbs of potatoes, which without a food scale, we approximated to be about eight medium Yukon Golds.

You're eventually going to need to have a sauce for this recipe. We made a simple sauce with tomatoes, olive oil, and basil, but you can make your own as we've just listed tomato sauce as one of the ingredients - we don't care where it came from.
One piece of advice that we did not heed was Nori's suggestion to boil the potatoes whole with their skins on. She said that when they're soft, you can peel and rice them while they're still hot. The biggest problem is just that it takes a while to boil them to where they're soft enough.

Well, we looked at the recipe for gnocchi from The Silver Spoon, which is where Nori said she learned how to make gnocchi, and we saw that it said to steam the potatoes instead of boiling.

Apparently, we don't know how to steam, because we ruined our nonstick pot when we first tried this recipe a couple days ago. We didn't have enough water in the pot, and instead of having the steam from boiling water cook the potatoes, it was toxic steam from boiling nonstick chemicals.

Now that we have personal experience with the smell, we're not so proud that America is considered a melting pot.

Anyway, undeterred, we decided to try them again, and when we made the gnocchi today, we still went with the steaming method, and it worked out fine this time.
Back to following Nori and Gio's advice, we used their potato ricer to get the steamed potatoes mashed up. The ricer is a strange machine. It makes potatoes look like rice ... we guess. More like stringy potato rice strips.

If you don't have a ricer, you can just smash up the potatoes however you would for mashed potatoes. But you won't be as cool.
When it comes to kneading the gnocchi dough, The Silver Spoon said it, Nori and Gio said it, and now we're going to say it. You don't want the dough to be too wet, and you don't want it to be too dry. Other than that, it's hard to describe what to do, but you'll know when it's right, and if something's up, add more flour until it's good.
The Silver Spoon gave some measurements for how big the rolls of dough should be and then how big the individual gnocchi should be, and we found that besides being impossible to measure quarters of an inch accurately, the sizes they recommended seemed a little on the large size. And by a little we mean extraordinarly large.

We stopped measuring and just made them the size we thought looked right, and it didn't matter at all. Both the big ones and the small ones came out tasting the same. So cut as you like.
To quote Usher, Oh, oh, oh oh. Oh oh, oh, oh oh. Oh oh, oh, oh oh, oh oh. Oh my gosh.

Dan Beck came over for dinner tonight, and he asked which of our 24 meals to date was the best, and we had a hard time thinking of one better than this one.

This was so delicious, we have nothing more to say.
If you want a nice meal that makes you feel like you're at a restaurant overlooking Capri and Mount Vesuvius, follow these steps:
  • 2 1/4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt
  • Tomato sauce
  • Basil
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmigiano cheese
  1. Peel and quarter the potatoes, and steam for 25 minutes.
  2. Using a potato ricer, squeeze the potatoes into a bowl, while hot. If you do not have a ricer, simply mash the potatoes with a masher.
  3. Stir in the flour, egg, and a generous pinch of salt.
  4. Knead the potatoes into a soft, elastic dough, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky.
  5. Shape the dough into long rolls just over 2/3 inch in diameter, and cut into 3/4 inch lengths.
  6. Press gently with the back side of a fork and roll away from you.
  7. Arrange the gnocchi on a dish towel, lightly dusted with flour.
  8. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the gnocchi.
  9. When they rise to the top of the pot, remove with a slotted spoon, and place in a bowl.
  10. Mix the cooked gnocchi with enough tomato sauce to coat, and add some torn basil leaves and the shredded mozzarella.
  11. Sauce the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking pan, and add the gnocchi.
  12. Top with the additional sauce, basil, and Parmigiano cheese.
  13. Cook in broiler for 15 minutes on high.

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