01.10.09: dinner party (my first attempt at gnocchi).

It’s difficult to find a food that Michael doesn’t even like a little; even rarer that he finds a classic Italian or Italian-American dish that he can’t enjoy even a little, like lasagna.  Gnocchi, though, was that food, and when I found an article in a winter issue of Fine Cooking that I learned the reason:  mass-produced American gnocchi (or even those imported from Italy) cannot even begin to compare to the beauty that is the classic Northern Italian potato delicacy, and I was determined to prove to him that we could recreate the heavenly pillows I ate with a ragu of wild boar.  It was one cold, snowy Saturday that I managed to do this, and the results were fabulous:

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Potato Gnocchi...waiting to be boiled.

The key to great gnocchi is using russet potatoes and using a potato ricer, which can run anywhere from $10 at IKEA (our particular model) to $50 for a fancy one you can get at a restaurant supply store.  It also requires only as much flour as needed to turn the potato mass into a dough (with the assistance of an egg), and a lot of space to roll out and cut the rods of dumplings.

Two of our best friends came by for dinner prior to a snowy boys’ night out downtown, while L and I drank martinis and watched Mad Men, and we all had the perfect base to do as we pleased, because the gnocchi, served with a homemade sausage ragu, was incredibly satisfying and the culinary equivalent to having a hot water bottle against one’s stomach:

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Potato Gnocchi in Sausage Ragu

Suffice it to say, there were no leftovers.

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2 comments
  1. michael said:

    Erroneous! There are TONS of examples of Italo-American foods that I do not enjoy. When’s the last time I ate manicotti?

  2. diana said:

    Manicotti (which was my birthday food of choice as a child,I will have you know) is the American cousin of Cannelloni, which involves the same ingredients, basically, but oh so differently prepared. Here in Piemonte, Cannelloni are normally sheets of homemade egg /Tipo 00 flour pasta, filled with a mixture of very little ricotta salata, fresh herbs, chopped pork and beef, salt and pepper. They are then rolled and covered with bechemel and a very light tomato sauce and baked.

    Emphasis here on very little cheese, very light tomato sauce. These two directives make manicotti and cannelloni almost complete opposites.

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