I’ve been busy lately. Really darned busy. I’m loving all this work and these rehearsals (the show’s this weekend… eeek!) But… this means I got the very first Daring Cooks challenge done half an hour before midnight. On the reveal date. Oops.
I’ve wanted to try gnocchi for a while, but… I’m easily intimidated by foods. Especially if I’ve never made them and they seem even the least bit challenging. And this one certainly did seem so. But ignoring my complete fail at making homemade ricotta for the gnocchi, it actually wasn’t that difficult. All you have to do is mix everything together, form the little blobs of gnocchi, roll them in flour, then boil them, mix with the sauce, and serve. Easy as pie. (Ignore, of course, my past difficulties with making pie.)
And how did I like them? Well. Plain, the gnocchi seemed very, very bland. With just butter, it was a little better, but still needed some sort of oomph. But as some beautifully browned sauteed onions to the sauce, and OH… that hits the spot.
- 1 pound fresh ricotta
- 2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
- about 1/4 teaspoon salt
- all-purpose flour for forming the gnocchi
- 8 tablespoons butter, sliced
- 2 teaspoons water
- 2 large sweet onions
- Line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels and place the ricotta in a sieve. Cover it and let it drain for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Place the drained ricotta in a large bowl and mash it with a rubber spatula or a large spoon.
- Add the lightly beaten eggs to the mashed ricotta.
- Melt the tablespoon of butter and add it to the ricotta mixture.
- Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the salt.
- Beat all the ingredients together very well. You should end up with a soft and fluffy batter with no streaks (everything should be mixed in very well).
- Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. When it boils, salt the water generously and keep it at a simmer.
- In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of all-purpose flour that’s 1/2 an inch deep.
- With a spatula, scrape the ricotta mixture away from the sides of the bowl and form a large mass in the center of your bowl.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter and then holding the spoon at an angle, use your finger tip to gently push the ball of dough from the spoon into the bed of flour.
- At this point you can either shake the dish or pan gently to ensure that the flour covers the gnocchi or use your fingers to very gently dust the gnocchi with flour. Gently pick up the gnocchi and cradle it in your hand rolling it to form it in an oval as best as you can, at no point should you squeeze it. What you’re looking for is an oval lump of sorts that’s dusted in flour and plump.
- Gently place your gnocchi in the simmering water. It will sink and then bob to the top. From the time that it bobs to the surface, you want to cook the gnocchi until it’s just firm. This could take 3 to 5 minutes.
- If your gnocchi begins to fall apart, this means that the ricotta cheese was probably still too wet. You can remedy this by beating a teaspoon of egg white into your gnocchi batter. If your gnocchi batter was fluffy but the sample comes out heavy, add a teaspoon of beaten egg to the batter and beat that in. Test a second gnocchi to ensure success.
- Form the rest of your gnocchi. You can put 4 to 6 gnocchi in the bed of flour at a time. But don’t overcrowd your bed of flour or you may damage your gnocchi as you coat them.
- Have a sheet pan ready to rest the formed gnocchi on. Line the sheet pan with wax or parchment paper and dust it with flour.
- Store the gnocchi in the refrigerator for an hour prior to cooking to allow them to firm up.
- Have a large skillet ready to go. Place the butter and water for the sauce in the skillet and set aside.
- In the largest pan or pot that you have (make sure it’s wide), bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil (you can use as much as 3 quarts of water if your pot permits). You need a wide pot or pan so that your gnocchi won’t bump into each other and damage each other.
- Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.
- Drop the gnocchi into the water one by one. Once they float to the top, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes (as in the case with the test gnocchi).
- While the gnocchi cook, place the skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Swirl it gently a few times as it melts. As soon as it melts and is incorporated with the water, turn off the heat. Your gnocchi should be cooked by now.
- With a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water and gently drop into the butter sauce. Carefully roll in the sauce until coated. Serve immediately.