Rachel Roddy’s recipe for gnocchi with gorgonzola | food


While there are fresh pasta shapes in my book An AZ of Pasta, it leans more heavily towards dried. This means that the most common (unwritten) instruction is to buy a packet of pasta. Even when I wrote about a fresh pasta shape demanding a certain amount of dexterity (and time) – a process I enjoyed immensely – I also enjoyed writing, “Go and buy it”, because a packet of fresh lasagne sheets, nests of tagliatelle, belly-button tortellini or potato gnocchi (pressing endearingly up against the packaging plastic like kids in a car) is a wonderful reassurance that there will be dinner in eight minutes.

For this week’s recipe, buy two packets of potato gnocchi. Alternatively, you can make the gnocchi yourself. Which – and I don’t want to put anyone off here – turned out to be one of the more demanding shapes when writing the book. Both in terms of its ancestry, which is cloudy, and the etymology of the word, which is almost as complicated as macaroni, but also in a practical sense.

I have been making gnocchi for years, mostly with potato (but also ricotta and spinach, with other roots, semolina, flour) and relatively successfully and quite confidently. But then, when writing and testing for the book, I fell apart. I was reminded of a story that Nigella Lawson tells in How To Eat. How, as a child, she would help her mum make mayonnaise once, sometimes twice a week, so had no idea it was meant to be tricky or cause for concern. She carried this confidence into her adult life. Until, one day, someone asked her how she managed to be so free and breezy about mayonnaise – didn’t she worry it would split? And from that day on, with the idea that something could go wrong instilled, she couldn’t make mayonnaise.

I fell apart! But then the Tuscan writer Pellegrino Artusi picked me up with his good advice – and his memorable description of gnocchi dissolving like aspirin. The type of potato is important – they should be gialle (yellow) and compatte, sode e poco farinose, compact, firm and not very floury. Floury or mealy potatoes dissolve like an aspirin in water, even if you add egg. What is even better than the right type of potatoes is the right age: older ones are best. A common note in gnocchi advice columns is “il nemico è l’acqua” (the enemy is water). One way to ensure less water is to use older potatoes, because some of their moisture content will have shriveled away. And then make sure not to add more during cooking, by boiling 1kg potatoes whole, so they don’t get waterlogged. Another thing I have found to be important is working fast. Of course, the potatoes need to cool, but as soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel them, then either mash or press through a ricer.

I am writing from a Roman perspective and I am not light-handed; my aim is not the ethereal puffs that some describe; rather, they’re the sturdy potato gnocchi that can stand a bit of rough and tumble, both in the making and in the pan. To the pile of riced potato, I add 300g plain flour and an egg, which is like bike stabilizers for dumplings. When you have worked everything into a dough, on a floured board, cut off apple-sized lumps, roll these into thick, firm cords, then cut into 1cm-long nuggets. You will now have made about 1 kg of gnocchi. For four, unless you are very hungry, you should estimate 800g in total (put the extra third on a flat plate and into the freezer. Once it is hard, store in a sealed bag and cook from frozen). Lift the other two-thirds on to a tea towel dusted with flour.

Cook the gnocchi in salted, boiling water (a steady boil, not a rolling one; they are not going to dissolve, but don’t take any chances) until they float to the surface. Using a slotted spoon, lift out, letting the water drip off, then put on a platter and pour over the gorgonzola sauce, for a silky dinner in eight or nine minutes, you decide.

Gnocchi with gorgonzola

prep 5 minutes
cook 10 minutes
servings 4

100ml whole milk
100ml single cream
200g gorgonzola
cut into cubes
30g grated parmesan,
plus extra for the top
A few sage leaves
Salt and black pepper
800g potato gnocchi
(bought or homemade – see method above)

Bring a pan of water to a boil. In another pan, warm the milk, cream, gorgonzola, parmesan and sage, and cook, stirring, until thick. Taste and season, then keep warm while you cook the gnocchi.

Add salt to the boiling water and stir. Tip the gnocchi into the water – they are ready when they float to the surface. Lift out with a slotted spoon, allowing water to fall away, then transfer to a large platter. Pour over the sauce and serve immediately, with more parmesan for those who want it.

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