We were invited over to cook in our friends newly remodeled kitchen last night, so I decided to make my favorite “pasta” dish, Gnocchi alla Ciociaria. I found this recipe year’s ago as part of Mario Batali’s Molto Mario show on Food Network. It is not something you would want to make every night, but I usually bring it out for friends as it is such a wonderful meal.
Gnocchi is one of the easiest pastas to make, but provides lots of “hands-on” fun. Our friend’s kitchen has a near-commerical stove and a huge expanse of granite counter which was perfect for pasta making. I was quite in “hog heaven” to be able to cook there. Everything is so much easier when you have the proper equipment and plenty of space. We are already planning another evening to make traditional rolled pasta here. I am certainly looking forward too it.
Recipe copyright 2000, Mario Batali. All Rights Reserved.
Prep Time:5 minInactive Prep Time: — Cook Time:2 hr 50 min
1 pound russet potatoes
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, diced Finely chopped bacon works in a pinch
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, soaked until tender I don’t include these for personal preference
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
4 sweet Italian sausage links, removed from casing
1 cup red wine
1 (16-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Freshly grated pecorino romano
Place the whole potatoes in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook at a low boil until they are soft, about 45 minutes. While still warm, peel the potatoes and pass them through a vegetable mill onto a clean pasta board.
Bring about 6 quarts to a boil. Set up an ice bath with 6 cups ice water and 6 cups water nearby.
Make a well in the center of the potatoes and sprinkle all over with the flour. Break the egg into the center of the well, add the salt, and, using a fork, stir into the flour and potatoes as if you were making pasta. Once the egg is mixed in, bring the dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes, until ball is dry to the touch.
Divide the dough into 2 large balls. Roll each ball into 3/4 inch-diameter ropes and cut the ropes into 1-inch-long pieces. Flick the pieces off of a fork or along the concave side of a cheese grater to score the sides. Drop the dough pieces into the boiling water and cook until they float to the surface, about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the gnocchi to the ice bath. Meanwhile, continue with the remaining dough, forming ropes, cutting 1-inch pieces, and flicking them off a fork. Continue until all the gnocchi have been cooked and allow them to sit several minutes in the ice bath.
Drain the gnocchi and transfer to a mixing bowl. Toss with the canola oil and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours or until ready to serve.
I don’t bother with the ice bath. I start the pasta sauce first so by the time I am cooking the gnochhi they go right into the sauce to cook for a few minutes.
In a 12 to 14-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the pancetta, porcini, garlic, onion, celery, carrot, parsley and the sausage meat and cook over high heat until sausage and vegetables are browned. Add the red wine, let it evaporate, then add the tomatoes and the pepper flakes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and lower heat to a simmer. Let cook for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
Once the sauce is thickened to the proper consistency, remove the gnocchi from their container and cook in the boiling water until they float aggressively. Drain the gnocchi and add to the simmering sauce. Toss very gently over heat 30 seconds to coat, then divide evenly among 4 warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated pecorino and serve.