Monday, June 20, 2011

6-20-2011 Homemade Gnocci

Phenomenal, unreal, out of this world, and beyond delicious are a few ways to describe tonight's dinner. I made homemade gnocci with meatsauce, a green salad with honey mustard dresssing, steamed yellow squash, and garlic bread.

 I will admit making the gnocci was labor intensive, but very well worth it. If you do decide to give it a shot, the outstanding results will be your reward. If you are not up for the challenge or the mess, you can always buy premade gnocci and just make the meatsauce.

The gnocci (pasta potato dumplings) are like pillows of joy.  If made correctly, they will melt in your mouth.

The salad I made consisted of mixed greens, chopped tomatoes, cucumber slices, red bell pepper pieces, and carrot slices. The salad dressing on it (homemade honey mustard) was amazing, the recipe for that is below.

The recipe for this gnocci (pronounced No-Key) is a culmination of different recipes I found while researching online. Here it is:

Homemade Gnocci

2 large Russet potatoes unpeeled, must be Russets
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 c. all purpose flour + extra for dusting

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and crosswise, you will have 8 pieces. Place in a large pot filled with cold water.

Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon and remove the potatoes from the water, place them on a large cutting board. Save the water in the pot, and set aside.

Quickly peel away the skins, and discard. You can use a paring knife if they don't automatically peel off easily.

Use a fork and scrape away at the potatoes to fluffily "mash" them, you can also use a potato ricer which is even better. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, until they are no longer hot. Sprinkle with salt, approx. 1/4-1/2 tsp.

Use a pastry cutter (a.k.a. a bench scraper) and push the potatoes into a mound. Pour over the beaten egg, then the flour. Use the pastry cutter and scrape underneath and fold the potatoes with the egg and flour until it is lightly crumbled.

Gently pull the crumbly mixture together and start to very gently knead it. You want the mixture not to be too sticky, add more flour if necessary, up to 1/4 C. You want it to be moist, but not sticky.

Once a dough has formed, cut it into 8 equal pieces with a knife or pastry cutter. Roll each of these pieces into a long rope on a lightly floured surface, roll the width of your thumb. Repeat will all 8 pieces.


Now cut each rope into 3/4 inch pieces. Use the tines of a fork to create ridges by pressing each piece into the tines with your thumb, see picture. Dust with flour as necessary to prevent the gnocci from getting to sticky.

Bring the pot of potato water back to a boil. Drop in 20 gnocci at a time. Gnocci are done when they are floating at the top of the water for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon and remove the gnocci to a serving dish. Ladle on the meatsauce, recipe next.


Homemade Meatsauce

Pouring marinara sauce from a jar over cooked ground beef is convenient, but will never compare to making it like this.

1 ½ lbs ground beef
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1-28 oz. can chopped tomatoes, Italian Style
1 can tomato paste
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. onion powder
½ t. pepper
Brown meat with onion and garlic. Mix in tomatoes and paste. Add sugar, salt, oregano, onion powder, and pepper. Cook sauce covered anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours on a low simmer, stir every so often  to make sure bottom of pot isn't burning.  Add a few tablespoons of water if sauce is too thick.
Here's a close up!
Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing
1/4 C. whole grain mustard
1/4 C. vegetable oil
1/4 C. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 C. honey
1 clove garlic, minced
Place all of the above ingredients into a jar with a lid. Screw on the lid and shake until thoroughly combined.
It would not be right if I wrote a post about gnocci and didn't mention a really cool gnocci tradition they have in Argentina. On the 29th of every month it is Gnocci Day, supposedly it is good luck to eat gnocci on that day. Argentineans will place money under the plate or bowl they are eating the gnocci from, and this is so that they should become wealthy, and be lucky. I wish we had that holiday here in the U.S.!
I hope you have a nice night.
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