Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Smoked Ricotta Gnocchi with Rosemary Tomato Sauce

Initially I was thinking about making a goat cheese gnocchi, but when I went to Saxelby to buy my fresh chevre they were out and after a little conversation it was suggested to me that I try this wonderful cherry wood smoked ricotta hand made in Brooklyn by Salvatore Bklyn. This stuff is amazing, creamier then any ricotta I've ever tasted and infused with this luscious smokey-ness.

I actually made two kinds of Gnocchi for this particular dinner party, mixing the smoked ricotta with sweet potato gnocchi, frying them instead of boiling them and serving it all with an uber rich cream of wild mushroom sauce. It was a bit over the top and I think the smoked ricotta needs a cleaner more acidic tomato sauce and that they are better boiled then fried. So to that end here is the recipe for smoked ricotta gnocchi, which I must warn you in advance is time consuming, the good news is that they freeze well. They're also very filling so a small amount goes a long way, this make 6 good servings as a main course.

Smoked Ricotta Gnocchi

In a large bowl place 1 pound of chilled smoked ricotta, with a wooden spoon, stir in 1 large beaten egg, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, 2 T olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of freshly grated black pepper. 1-2 T of chopped chives can also be incorporated, but are optional.

The mixture shuold hold together, but be on the sticky side. If it is too wet add more flour in very small increments, until it has reached the right consistency. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour your work service and your hands, turn the gnocchi dough out of the bowl onto the work surface and cut into 6 pieces, roll each piece into a approximately 1" rope. Cut the rope into little pillows about 1-2" long and place them on the parchment covered cookie sheet. When they are all done cover the the cookie sheet with a tea towel or plastic wrap if you must and put back in the fridge for at least an hour or this can easily be done the day before.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to the boil (1 teaspoon of salt for every quart of water). Working in small batches and a slotted spoon at the gnocchi to the water, when they float to the surface they are done (a couple of minutes) remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in an oiled baking dish until they are all cooked and ready to be eaten!

Serve tossed in a simple tomato sauce with more grated Parmesan.

Simple Tomato Sauce

In a large skillet over medium flame heat 1/4 cup olive oil until hot but not smoking then add 8-12 finely chopped cloves of garlic, fry for 1-2 minutes then add 1 28 ounce can of crushed organic tomatoes and salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste (I would also add 2 crushed hot red arbol peppers or pepper flakes) cook until thick - about an hour - then stir in 2 or 3 T of your favorite fresh herb Rosemary, Thyme, Savory are all good, if you are adding basil add at least 1/2 cup. This can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for several days.

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