Thursday, January 8, 2009

Second Helpings of Parsley Gnocchi in Parmesan Cream

Here is my lunch. It snowed, sleeted, rained, and hailed all day. Nature railing her worst at us. Because of this bit of environmental temper, all bets were off for my good intentions outside the house. I turned toward a recipe I had planned on taking for a spin for a few days now: Simon Hopkinson's recipe for Parsley Gnocchi in Parsley Soup as published in his second beautifully-written cookbook.

Let me tell you briefly about this book: It is startlingly well-written and conceived for a cookbook. Half-memoir and half-recipe book, it takes short and painless journeys through a handful of topics and offers three recipes only on each topic. The recipes are short, quick reads and seem quite straight-forward.

While they may be straight-forward, the two-and-a-half I have thus far attempted are long and require a great many steps - and pots. Nothing against the book or the writing which will easily tote you away to the England of Hopkinson's youth. I am only being up-front with you: This stuff will take some time. Carve out a morning or a whole afternoon.

My second recipe attempt which (unwittingly at the outset) also became my third, became so lengthy in time and process, I gave up on making the soup portion of the recipe and proceeded to make Hopkinson's cream sauce from a different gnocchi recipe in order to just finally have done with the thing, as we were all hungry for lunch. It was a pleasant right turn, I am pleased to report. As for the soup, there were so many gnocchi from this dough that we will be dining on the soup for dinner and you shall have the results of that experiment probably before you can even finish loading all the steps in process to this first feat of stove-ery.

In the meantime, should you have a snow day, parsley, cream and some patience for lengthy method, here's your snowy day project.

Parsley Gnocchi in Parmesan Cream
adapted from Second Helping of Roast Chicken, by Simon Hopkinson
Serves 4

If you are also referring to the book, this is a combination of the Parsley Gnocchi in Parsley Soup recipe and the Piedmontese Potato Gnocchi in Parmesan Cream recipe. The method to prepare this dish accompanies the photo tutorial below.

For the Gnocchi:
14 ounces of potatoes, russet or Idaho, peeled
1 egg
1/2 cup parsley leaves, finely minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 - 1 cup all purpose flour

For the Parmesan Cream Sauce:
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

First, steam the peeled potatoes over 1 inch of wildly boiling water (I had little russet potatoes on hand) until a fork easily pierces the center of a potato. Remove the steamer basket and shut the burner off. Place the steamer basket over the burner for a minute to take off a bit of water remaining on the spuds. Remove and set aside momentarily.

Remove the leaves of the parsley leaves from the stems. Use the stems for something else or discard.

Finely mince the leaves on a large cutting board. Leave on the board and spread the leaves out a bit until they form a 10 inch length or so on the board, see below:

Now, sprinkle over the kosher salt.

Place the potatoes in a food mill or ricer and mill until as fine as you are able to get them, allowing the milled potato to fall over the minced parsley and salt on the board.

Scoop the remains out of the mill and on to the top of the pile as well. Mash all the remaining pieces to minuscule with a fork until all the potato is softened and no large lumps remain. Continuing to blend with fork, get all evenly combined. Form the batter into a small mound and make a small well in the center:

Break the egg into the mound.

With a fork, beat the egg soundly inside the well.

Now sprinkle 1/2 cup flour over the top of all, reserving the remaining to use if you need it to lessen the stickiness of the dough or to flour the board for rolling out the gnocchi.

Beginning with the egg inside and working with a fork at first, then your hands, combine all the ingredients into a dough. It should only be a bit sticky once combined. If it is a little more wet, add and combine one sprinkling of flour at a time, kneading gently, until a dough much like a that for a biscuit is formed.

Separate a chunk from the dough mound of about half the size of your palm. Gently dust your board with flour and begin to roll the chunk into a long rope-like cylinder, about 3/4" in circumference.

With your knife cut the dough-ropes into 1" lengths.

With a dinner fork, hold a gnocchi at the top of the fork and using your thumb, roll the gnocchi down the length of the fork in order to form a grooved pasta roll.

As each is finished, place them on a flour dusted sheet pan. Repeat the roll/ cut/ fork process with all the remaining dough. Allow the pasta to rest at room temperature for at least an hour though longer would be best.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to boil with a bit of salt. Gently drop all the gnocchi into the pot, trying not to also pitch in the flour from the pan. Some of the pieces will rise to the top right away. Be patient, you need all of the pasta to rise to the top as below and once they do you must cook for 30 seconds longer:

Your pot should look like the above with all the pasta at the top, then cook half a minute more. This will not take long: maybe two or three minutes in total. Remove the pasta from the water.

Meanwhile, into a small sauce pan, place the cream, Parmesan, and salt. Stirring occasionally, allow to heat until the Parmesan melts and steam rises from the surface. Do not boil.

Place the pasta in a bowl and pour the Parmesan cream over. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves, grated Parmesan, and/or a little gray salt, depending on your tastes.


Tutti Chic said...

YUMMY! Thanks so much for this unbelievaable recipe! My mouth is watering~:) chris

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Oh my goodness, this looks wonderful! Thanks for the step~by~step directions, too. Hope to make this soon. looks fabulous.
xo Lidy

Toby Worthington said...

Potato gnocchi were a staple of my struggling student days in Manhattan, prepared over an electric hot plate as there wasn't an oven in that spacious loft. Some memories die hard, so I've resisted any form of gnocchi for decades...until now, seeing this recipe and the brilliant way it was analyzed.

Blushing hostess said...

Thank you to all for your kind thoughts. Always my pleasure... Be well, The Hostess