Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Worth the Effort: Ricotta Gnocchi

Sometimes, you just have to go that extra step. I have two recipes (coming up this week on the blog, I'll have Peking Pork, which hands-down was the best Chinese Food recipe I've made, because it came closest to being like what you order in a restaurant) and then this YUMMY Ricotta Gnocchi.

My kids loved it SO much, they were eating it FROM THE PAN before I even finished the dish off. I couldn't keep their little paws away from these. Truth be told, I was having a hard time resisting, too. ;-) Seriously, look at those little buggers. Don't they look like pillows of yum?

Since these take some time and effort (it's not hard, it's just time, that's all), I made them when I was roasting chicken (I actually roasted two chickens, one for that night, one for later, to make homemade stock for Chicken Noodle Soup, a request from my teen daughter, who has been bugging me to make it for weeks). So pick a night when you know you'll be in the kitchen anyway (in my case, basting the chicken--the one chicken for that night was the Autumn Roast Chicken from the Betty Crocker cookbook).

Ricotta Gnocchi

2 cups ricotta cheese (I used low-fat, and it worked out fine)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated and divided (don't use that stuff in a can, use the real stuff...a tip, you can shred this in a Braun hand blender kind of thing, with the small food processer attachment)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 stick butter

In a large bowl, stir together ricotta, eggs, 1 cup of the cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add flour until a soft, wet dough forms. It'll be sticky, but that's okay.

Start six quarts of water on the stove, in a pasta pot. Get it boiling, then add three tablespoons of salt.

Shape dough on a floured breadboard, with floured hands, into two 1-inch thick ropes. They'll be about 18 inches long, so you'll need a big breadboard. Using a floured knife (just dip your knife into the flour ;-), cut into one-inch pieces and lay pieces, not touching, on floured parchment paper.

Add gnocchi, a little at a time, to the boiling water, stirring occassionaly. Cook for about 4 minutes, until cooked through. You can cut them and taste to see if they're done, but I found that once they all pop to the top, it takes about 1 more minute of cooking and they're done. Remove them with a slotted spoon or spider, and place in a colander.

Place the butter in a large saucepan and cook it over medium-low heat for about ten minutes (while you're cooking the gnocchi). When the gnocchi are done in the pasta water, fry them in the butter until they're golden brown, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and serve.

I really loved these and wished I'd made more . They were well worth the effort, and next time, I think I'll get the kids involved, especially since they liked them so much.

Coming up this week: Orange Beef and Broccoli, Peking Pork, Pad Thai (we had an Asian theme again at my house!), and Apple-Feta Salad. Not sure yet what else is on my menu ;-)


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