Sometimes it's just easy to make my 'go-to' recipes, because I don't even have to think. And since I seem to share a brain with the baby occupying my womb--sometimes it is totally necessary not to have to think if it means getting dinner on the table, period.
But yesterday was different. I grabbed a stack of neglected Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines and flipped through them. I was immediately drawn to the sweet potato gnocchi. I bit my lip, looked at the clock, and started calculating 'time'. How much time do I have...and how much time does this stuff take? And ......am I INSANE?
Rewind a few years ago when I attempted to make gnocchi. Me: so naive and excited to do it. I spent 2 hours preparing it....only to end the night crying on my kitchen floor like a baby when the little gnocchi's completely dissolved in the pot while cooking into a wet mashed potato mess. (I know this seen may seem familiar to MANY of you, especially if you saw "Julie and Julia". I was in tears of laughter during the seen where Julia was crying on her kitchen floor after dropping a chicken...because that has been me. Several times.)
I am not oblivious to mishaps in the kitchen. But, I can't live in fear of trying things that I have failed. And I certainly cannot live in fear of making homemade pasta forever. To be honest, I have been telling myself for months to try it again. Ever since we were in Italy this past May I've been craving homemade gnocchi. (Its basically what I ordered at every restaurant in every flavor, shape, size)
Sweet potato gnocchi, Lake Maggiore, Italy
So I reasoned with myself. SOMEONE knows how to make gnocchi. Not EVERY recipe is going to be a bust or it wouldn't get published. Besides what did I really have to lose, if its a total disaster, I would just order a pizza.
The reality of gnocchi:
1. It's very cheap to make--potatoes, flour, and egg...'nuff said.
2. It's very much like playing with play-dough. Who doesn't like to play with their food?
3. Surprisingly it doesn't make a huge mess--it can be contained to a sheet pan.
4. Once rolled, uncooked gnocchi can be frozen for later use--for a SUPER quick dinner.
5. IT'S NOT THAT HARD!!!
The gnocchi verdict:
The end result was a perfectly moist tender gnocchi. The hint of sage and nutmeg was the perfect fall flavor. And chestnut? Wonderful. Its something I have never tried and amazed I have waited this long. (Although I did have 3 people at my local market hunting them down for me).
My personal tips:
1. Keep an eye on the boiling pot of gnocchi. Mine didn't need 3 minutes to cook, it probably took half that time. Just wait for them to float to the top. Then scoop them out.
2. Use a good quality unsalted butter. If you can find an unsalted European butter such as Plugura, Irish butter etc, the taste will be so much better. The butter sauce is the star of the show--so be sure to use a good quality ingredient. (Always buy unsalted butter--salted butter as a general rule is a lesser quality product. Companies use the salt to mask impurities in the butter and taste. You can always add salt later).
3. I added a tablespoon of cream...just for added flavor.
Check out this fool proof recipe from Gourmet. I am so sad to see the magazine close!
Process of gnocchi: