~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Potato Gnocchi...with Browned Butter Sage Sauce

Light-As-Air Potato Gnocchi...with Browned Butter Sage Sauce. I made this recipe weeks before going to Italy... wanted to get the feel for Italian cuisine early on:). But I did end up going to Rome with a list of dishes I wanted to try... wasn't expecting to try them all, but as many as I could....
I am well aware that a risotto in one place will vary from a risotto in another. The same goes for pasta and other classic Italian dishes. I suppose I wanted to see the difference from the dishes served here in the U.S. and those abroad.... I'm not sure if that's fair... fruits and vegetables always taste different abroad. In any case, my husband and I ended up trying some of the things on my list. The risotto was delicious... loved the pomodoro version! Actually the risotto was very similar to the risotto I make using a pressure cooker. But the pasta was what made our trip worthwhile.
While in Rome, we ended up stumbling upon a wonderful Michelin Star restaurant(Sora Lella) that served homemade pasta and other Roman specialty dishes. The restaurant was tucked away on a small island (Isola Tiberina) in the middle of the Tiber River. Cute little place. An experience I'll never forget... to eat among the locals and taste some amazing dishes. It was there that I also had my first encounter with homemade pasta dishes( Italian version)... including their homemade gnocchi. I found out the meaning of "al dente"... and how pasta should have that toothsome chew. Oh, I knew what al dente should be like... and I've had homemade pasta before... even made my own. But to actually experience the pasta in Italy... from those who've made pasta for generations... well, that's a different pasta!
We weren't very hungry when we stumbled upon the restaurant, but we still decided it was worth going in just to try out some of the dishes.... especially the homemade pasta. I so wanted to try dishes that weren't labeled as part of a "tourist menu". So in we went... We stuck to an appetizer of octopus salad and a couple of pasta dishes and finished the meal with their incredible tiramisu. And while we stopped at the primi piatti, the locals dining there were continuing their meal with the secondi piatti dishes. That's when we noticed the many excellent dishes coming out from the kitchen...they all looked incredible....from braised lamb and oxtails, to suckling pig and veal cheeks. It definitely wasn't a "tourist menu"... but rather a menu with locals in mind. Needless to say, we felt the need to return...and so we did...the following day. But this time around we decided to order like the locals... an antipasti, a primi piatti, a secondi piatti, and a couple of dolci fatti in casa (homemade desserts) along with a caffe to top it all off. The carne(meat) dishes were melt-in-your mouth tender and packed with so much flavor. But I loved their gnocchi di patate(potato gnocchi). So I thought to share a gnocchi recipe... different than the one I had at the restaurant(oh, if only I could replicate that at home one day).
This recipe makes gnocchi that are light and fluffy versus the firmer and chewy sort of gnocchi I ate in Rome. Below you can see a couple of the pasta dishes we ordered...thought you might enjoy seeing the dishes.... I know I know, only a food blogger would take out their camera:).

Depending on the region in Italy, the gnocchi can be made with a variety of ingredients including semolina, wheat flour, ricotta, potato, spinach, etc. And while we might have the gnocchi as a main course... the Italians will have it as a primi piatti( first course) and then move on to the secondi piatti(second course). In either case, the homemade gnocchi is worth making.... a pillowy-soft dumpling that can be served with a variety of sauces.
For this post I was concerned mostly with the gnocchi, and not so much the sauce... which is why the final photos weren't spectacular. I didn't even add the grated Parmesan/Pecorino cheese. Next time I'd love to focus on some homemade sauce to go along with the gnocchi.... but the browned butter sage sauce was quite delicious. Hope you enjoy...

Tip: Use a marinara sauce instead of the browned butter sage for another quick alternative.... or a walnut pesto sauce, or simply tossed with some olive oil and garlic/chive.
Try not to boil the gnocchi for too long, as they will get soft and absorb too much water.
~Another option is to crisp up the gnocchi in a skillet( with a bit of oil/butter)... they will get a nice crust.

You will need: adapted from Cook's Illustrated Oct/Nov 2011 issue

Potato Gnocchi
2 lbs russet potatoes
1 large egg
3/4 cup+ 1 TBS( 4oz) all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
4 quarts of water+ 1 TBS salt
Parmesan cheese, grated(optional)

1. The potatoes can be baked in a preheated 450°F oven until fork-tender, about 40 minutes or so. Let them stand just until cool enough to handle. (The hotter the potatoes are when they are peeled and riced, the lighter the gnocchi will be.)
2. Cut hot potatoes in half( or quarters). Working quickly scoop out potato flesh( or peel them) and press the potatoes through a potato ricer. Alternatively, the potatoes can be grated on a fine grater(which is what I ended up doing).
3. Spread the riced/grated potatoes into an even layer on a plate or cookie sheet..... without pressing them or compacting them. Let them cool.
4. In a small bowl, beat the egg, 1 tsp salt, and pepper together. Place the riced/grated potatoes in a bowl and pour the egg mixture over the potatoes. Gently stir with a fork to combine.
5. Sprinkle the flour and gently combine until flour evenly coats the potatoes. Place the mixture on a parchment paper( or lightly floured surface) and gently knead the dough for 1 minute...or until dough comes together. You don't want to over-knead.... the longer the dough is kneaded, the more flour it will require and the heavier it will become.
6. Form dough into a elongated shape and into 8- 10 pieces/strips. Using both hands, in a smooth back-and-forth motion gently roll each dough piece into a rope 1/2 inch thick, lightly flouring the dough if necessary.
7. Slice the ropes into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Sprinkle the pieces lightly with flour.
At this point, you can cook the gnocchi as is or you can form the ridges on the gnocchi:
Using a fork, hold the tines at a 45-degree angle to the surface...with the concave part facing up. Take each piece of dough and with a floured thumb, press the dough lightly against the tines of the fork. Roll the dough downward toward the tip of the fork.... the dough will form an indentation on one side with a ridged surface on the other. Sprinkle a little flour on the fork(or your thumb) if you notice the gnocchi sticking.
8. Place each finished gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Continue with the rest.

Cook Gnocchi:
1. Bring 4 quarts of water and 1 TBS salt to boil. Drop about half the gnocchi into the boiling water a few at a time, stirring gently and continuously with a wooden spoon. (You can use a larger pot if you want to cook all the gnocchi at the same time)
2. Cook the gnocchi, stirring gently, until tender, about 1 minute after they rise to the surface. Cook the remaining gnocchi, if necessary.
3. Remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon, draining well, and transfer to saucepan/bowl with some of the sauce. Toss and serve.
~Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.~

Browned Butter Sage Sauce...with Shallots: You can easily double the sauce.

Browned Butter Sauce
4 TBS butter
1 shallot
1 tsp fresh sage
1 1/2 tsps lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

1. Melt butter on medium heat until browned... about 1 1/2 min(or so).
2. Off heat, add shallot and sage. Stir for 1 min.
3. Stir in lemon juice and salt.
4. Cover and keep warm.


Unknown said...

I simply must try this, I LOVE Gnocchi so much and even more with a simple coating or sauce.

Andreea said...

Hi Ellie,

I'm so making these tonight :)
Thanks for sharing. I never got the right fluffyness, but these look fabulous. I'll let you know how they were.

I envy you :) for Rome. We were in Rome for 4 days last year in augsut (I blogged about it a bit). We had gorgeous weather, so we walked and walked all day long, visited most of the ''must see'' tourist attractions and we enjoyed every single meal: pizzas, pastas, gelato, gelato, gelato and again gelato (that was me mostly), antipasti etc etc

I'm glad to see you :)

Ellie said...

Jennifurla, I sure hope you like it:)! I think a simple sauce is key... especially if you want to savor the flavor of the gnocchi itself. Pure comfort food... thanks for stopping by.

Andreea, Oh, I sure hope you enjoy making the gnocchi...I know Cook's illustrated stresses the fact that amounts have to be precise....too much flour and too much kneading can get them to be tough. It's a fine line...as you don't want them to be too soft, as they can get laden with water when boiling. I think next time I'll let them sit to "dry" for a bit before cooking them.

Oh, I am so glad you had the chance to experience Rome...made me chuckle when you mentioned the gelato. We had gelato every day for a week...we skipped one day:). There were so many flavors to try! Towards the end of the week, my husband stopped trying out other flavors and kept to his 3 favorite.... coffee, tiramisu and pistachio:).
And yes, there was plenty of walking:)...on the 3rd day we opted to use the bus, tram, and metro to save our feet:)...but the exercise was good, this way we could have gelato:).
Thanks for stopping by, it was really good to hear from you... how is your daughter doing with the studying for the exams?
Need to check out your blog and see what goodies you've posted...

Andreea said...

They were great Ellie! Unfortunately I can't compare what I made with how it should really be. They were very fluffy and tasted great but I must try them in a restaurant to see if I'm getting close.

My daughter will go to a great private school. The exams are over for that step, we are both relieved.

You skiped one day of gelato?? ooohh! how could you?? :))
I ate 3 times a day 3-4 scoops each time :))) really!! It was our 1st visit to Italy, never had the real thing and as you said, way too many flavours to resist. I didn't even try :)))

I'm cooking, as everyone on daily basis, the time for blogging on the other hand is really terible this year. I'm baking bread every week, no time to blog about them either.

Have a great week-end Ellie!

Ellie said...

Andreea, I'm glad you liked the gnocchi...thanks for your feedback! I am not sure if all the restaurants make the gnocchi alike... I do know the ones I tried in Rome were almost dense and chewy.... unlike these from Cook's Illustrated. And if I wouldn't have known they had a Michelin start, I would have thought they weren't done right:). I am glad I had the opportunity to try them elsewhere to compare... I think it depends on preference...some like it fluffy, and others more dense. I think I would like to try a semolina version next time...

I am so glad your daughter gets to go to a great private school...happy for her and for you:). I am sure it was a lot of work... but it paid off.

Blogging isn't exactly the easiest...it takes a ton of work as you well know. I am glad for the recipes you post:)...

I've been baking bread myself...using my sourdough starter quite a bit. I know you were working with the fruit fermented sourdough. Haven't yet tried it myself, but have seen some wonderful looking breads using that technique.

Have a wonderful week , Andreea!

Speranta said...

Ellie,imi place foarte mult!
Aceasta reteta trebuie sa o incerc,
cred ca nu este asa de greu de preparat.Multumesc pentru reteta.

Iti doresc bucurii...

Ellie said...

Speranta, Gnocchi nu sant greu de facut... si ce imi place ca este usor de facut dupa gust. Poti sa faci gnocci cu semolina, cu ricotta si alte branzeturi...si erburi adaugate.
Oricum este alt ceva sa punem pe masa:)...Sper sa iti placa si tie!

Iti doresc o zi minunata!

Mihaela said...

These gnocchi look adorable....they are really cute..:)

Ellie said...

Thank you, Mihaela. So sweet of you... Have a wonderful Christmas. And thanks for stopping by:)....

Mihaela said...

Draga mea, multumesc de urari !
Eu, se pare ca nu mai sunt asa activa pe blog (nici inainte nu am fost..)si s-ar putea sa si il inchid....Eu sunt pe drumul spre VEGETARIANISM...Raw vegan...Ma simt bine si sper sa reusesc cat mai mult in privinta asta. Oricum , imi face placere sa te mai vizitez pe blog si poate, candva , in Montana. Cand ai drum spre Beach, opreste-te si pe la mine in North Carolina. Te pup si iti urez muuulte binecuvantari sfinte de la Tatal nostru care a facut cerurile si pamantul !

Ellie said...

Oh, Mihaela, Iti multumesc mult pentru mesaj. Sa sti ca iti simt lipsa pe blog, dar totusi te inteleg. Stiu ca trebuie sa faci ce este mai bine pentru tine si familia ta...si in privinta cu dieta. Stiu ca nu este usor de schimbat felul de a manca(mai ales pentru noi romanii:)). Iti doresc succes cu schimbarea asta...daca te simti mai bine, merita:).
Stiu ca ce postez eu sar putea sa nu iti mai aplice tie ...dar poate unele retete:)...ca si mie imi place mai mult raw, asa cat se poate:). Poate o sa ne vedem intro zi:)...
Te pup mult, si iti doresc mult har din parte Domnului Nostru ... care ne iubeste asa de mult!