Friday, September 30, 2011

Ricotta Gnocchi

A traditional Florentine pasta, Ricotta Gnocchi is the lighter, hipper cousin to northern Italy's potato gnocchi. This gnocchi cooks up as soft, mild-flavored dumplings. They make a great base for any sauce.
(Source: The Kitchn)

Ah, I finally got down to making these little Italian dumplings! I know they aren't exactly good-lookers, but that's the beauty of it. :) No one cares if they are misshapen or uneven or too thin or too fat. They are meant to be that way - rustic, imperfect ... yet delicious. Drizzle some sage and brown butter sauce over, and you get a wonderful plate of billowy, pillowy dumplings bursting with cheesy goodness. Perfetto!

Brutti ma buoni. Ugly but good.
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Making them is really easy. It only took me about 30mins from start to end, including photography! With more practice, I know I'll better my timing. ;) Aside, my poor camera ... forever in contact with grease and flour. Sigh, Mummy's gonna give you a thorough wipe right after this post.

(from Delicious Days)
Serves 2 to 4, depending on whether portions are for mains or sides

- 250g Ricotta
- 1 egg yolk (M-L)
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 30g Parmigiano (or Pecorino), freshly grated
- 50-75 g all-purpose flour, extra for dusting the dough/board

1. Discard any excess liquid that the Ricotta’s packaging may contain, then add Ricotta cheese, egg yolk, salt and freshly grated Parmigiano into a large bowl. Mix well with a wooden or regular spoon. Now add the flour and stir in briefly, just until combined* – the dough will still be quite sticky. (Of course you can add more flour at this point, but keep in mind, that the more flour you use, the denser the gnocchi become in the end. And you want them to be as light & fluffy as possible, with a velvet-like texture.)
* Note: Remember, you're not making bread, so don't knead. As long as the mixture comes together, you're done. Overwork the dough, and the gnocchi will turn out tough. Add too much flour, and you will feel like you've just had bricks for lunch.

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2. Forming these gnocchi is the slightly tricky step, this is the technique that works best for me: Generously flour a board, take a big tablespoon of the dough and scoop it onto the board. It gets dusted with flour (dust your hands generously, too!), before rolling it into a finger-thick roll. Cut it into little pillows (stick the knife’s blade into the flour to prevent it from sticking to the dough). Then place each gnoccho on a floured board or parchment paper lined baking tray. Continue quickly with the next step, otherwise they will get soggy and stick to the paper/board anyway.
* Note: For me, I used 50g flour, with 1 or 2 tbsps for dusting. Yes, very little flour, so the gnocchi was a tad sticky when I was shaping them, which was a teensy challenge because you need a very light hand when doing that. BUT they turned out really tender and airy. So I say, err on the side of stickiness. You're gonna wash your hands later, anyway. :)

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3. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a generous pinch of salt and reduce heat until the water bubbles lightly. Add the gnocchi and stir once, so they don’t stick to the bottom – then let cook until they start floating on top. Depending on their size this may take 2 to 4 minutes. Take out with a skimmer and serve immediately. Serve them either with a simple tomato sauce, browned butter with fresh sage or any kind of pesto.

4. I made a simple sage and brown butter sauce. Just gently heat about 50g of unsalted butter with chiffonade of sage. Cook till the butter has browned but not burnt - and note that all it takes is a couple of seconds to cross over from one to the other - and the sage has become crispy. The butter should have a lovely nutty aroma and flavour, with nuances of earthiness from the sage.

I made indentations using the tines of a fork, but really, I would skip this the next time.
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6. I did the extra step of browning my gnocchi so that they would be crisp on the outside. All you need to do is, after removing them from the salted water with a slotted spoon, place them in a non-stick pan (no oil needed) and let them brown nicely on both sides. Don't move them around too much. Once done, arrange them on a plate and drizzle your accompanying sauce over.

Buon appetito!

Some trivia: My first "encounter" with gnocchi was when I watched The Godfather Part III - in a scene where Andy Garcia showed Sofia Coppola how to roll those tiny pieces of dough. Gosh that was 21 years ago! I was (still am) a fan of mafia movies, and my dad took me to watch it one evening, just the 2 of us. It was only much later, when I became interested in cooking, that I realised they were making gnocchi. :)
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  1. Your gnocchi looks so good! Rustic and delicious is just how I like it.

  2. So funny you mentioned God father! lol.

    I love gnocchi, especially with sage this way.

  3. This looks perfect! I like the idea of browning the gnocchi too. Yummo!

  4. I love gnocchi especially when the size is right. Oversized gnocchis are often disgusting because it's too moreish... yours is just perfect!

  5. Perfect did a magnificent job!
    Just gorgeous!

  6. they don't look ugly at all! One to try for sure.

  7. I can't believe your dad let you see that movie when you were 2;)

    It must have been fun for you to go with him..lovely memories..I remember my first movie in a theatre The Sound Of Music..I learned so many songs off by heart.. I only remember a few bars of some..none of others and maybe 1 whole song:)

    I love movies that have food scenes in them much more now than 40 yrs ago:)
    Your gnocchi is bella..not ugly..
    You crack me up..It looks delicious.

  8. That reminds me. My first movie with my dad had to do with food too. Bruce Lee ordered plates and plates of soup from a western restaurant because he could not read the menu. It left a deep impression on me ;-)

  9. I just got hungry looking at it. It is 6 in the morning here..:-)

  10. I was just about to start looking this up! (Last week on "Up All Night" they had mentioned it.) And growing up we only made potato gnocchi, I'm really interested to see the differences. :)

  11. i made it!
    i was great.

    congrats on your blog.

  12. Hi Ju! where do you buy the ricotta in Singapore? I'm currently overseas but I want to tell my mum where to get all these gorgeous ingredients.
    P.S. made your pandan cake recipe a few days ago and it really satisfied my craving :) thanks!

    1. Hi PN, great to hear about the pandan cake. :) I bought my ricotta from Phoon Huat. I am pretty sure I have also seen it at Cold Storage (the larger outlets). Hope your mum finds it!