Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gnocchi with Peas and Crispy Proscuitto

   I am a fan of any kind of dumpling.  Soft or chewy, stuffed or dropped:  I don't care.  Every culture has some form of dumpling they call their own.  Gnocchi are little Italian potato pillows that can be paired with just about anything.  And guess what:  they aren't hard to make!  I thought they were, but I was wrong.  Sure, they take some time, but you can make a large batch just as easily as a small batch.  If you space them out so they aren't touching each other, you can freeze them and keep them on hand for up to 3 months. 

1 lb baking potatoes (4-5 medium sized potatoes)
2 egg yolks
1/2 grated parmesan cheese
1-1 1/2 C flour
1/4 salt
1/8 nutmeg (optional)

Bake potatoes at 400 deg F for 1 hr to 1 hr 15 min, place directly on rack in the center of the oven.  Allow potatoes to cool until they are easily handled (about 20-30 min.)  Cut potatoes in half and use a fork to scrape out the center into a bowl (to fluff up the baked potato.)  You do not want any of the skin.  Mix in egg yolks, salt and nutmeg.  Add parmesan.  Add flour 1/2 C at a time until dough it no longer sticky.  Use your hands to press and divide dough into manageable pieces.
 On a lightly floured surface, roll pieces into logs about 1 inch in diameter.  Cut into 1 inch sections and place of a sheet pan dusted with flour.
TIP:  If you want to freeze them, at this point cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer.  Once gnocchi are frozen, put them in an air tight container.  They will keep for about 3 months.  This method of individual freezing prevents things from sticking together and freezing slowly (which ruins the texture). 
Directly from freezer cook in liberally salted boiling water until they float (about 6-8 minutes).  Or spread out on a cookie sheet and thaw in refrigerator; follow fresh cooking directions

Cook fresh gnocchi in liberally salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes.  Do this as close to service as possible.

Gnocchi with Peas and Crispy Proscuitto in a Light Cream Sauce
1 recipe gnocchi (cooked)
3-4 pieces of thinly sliced proscuitto
1 C frozen English peas that have been thawed
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 C chicken broth (low sodium)
3/4-1 C milk
2 Tbsp cream cheese
1/4 C parmesan cheese

Bake proscuitto at 350 deg F for 15 min or until crispy.  Cool and crumble.  (Bacon that has been chopped and rendered until crispy may be substituted.)
Melt butter over medium heat in a large pan.  Saute garlic for ~1 min.  Add chicken broth.  Reduce by half.  Add milk, bring to a simmer.  Stir in cream cheese, make sure it is thoroughly combined.  Add parmesan and peas.  Heat peas through.  Move gnocchi directly from cooking liquid into sauce pan.  Toss with peas and sauce.  Top with proscuitto when served.

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