Friday, March 21, 2014

Cheddar Gnocchi With Brown Butter and Spicy Spring Greens

Here’s a recipe for gnocchi with Irish cheddar. Cloaked in brown butter, they work charmingly well with the first greens of the season, especially spicy ones like watercress and arugula. Yes, you can substitute Parmesan, but cheddar gives the gnocchi an earthy sharpness that lends itself well to the brown butter and the greens. We had them at Jim’s first Chef’s Dinners, series. Next Chef Dinner is coming up on April 18.

Irish Cheddar Gnocchi
2 large russet potatoes, washed
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup aged Irish cheddar cheese, such as Dubliner
1 egg yolk
¼ cup melted butter (preferably Irish such as Kerrygold)

Roast the potatoes in a 350 degree oven until tender enough to fork and set aside to cool. When the potatoes are cool cut in half, remove the inside with a spoon and discard the skins. Run the potatoes through a ricer or mash thoroughly with a potato masher.

Combine with flour and cheese. Mix until incorporated. Fold in the butter and egg yolk and knead the dough by hand. Be careful not to over-knead-stop when just smooth. Let the dough rest wrapped in plastic for at least thirty minutes in a cool area or the refrigerator.

To cook the gnocchi: unwrap the dough and put it on a large cutting board or clean counter. Cut off pieces and roll them into long ropes about the width of a cigar. Cut each roll into small bite-size pieces and dust them with a little flour to keep them from sticking together. (Traditionally the pieces are rolled off the back of a fork, giving them an authentic shape, but they do not need to be.)

Arrange the gnocchi in one layer about ¼-inch apart on a lightly floured pan. Let stand one hour at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. (At this point they can be frozen for up to one week. If you choose to freeze them, put them in the freezer on the pan in one layer until they are frozen solid. Then move them into a ziplock bag until ready to cook. Cook them frozen.)

To cook: Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil. Working in small batches, cook gnocchi in  boiling water until gnocchi rise to top and are tender, about five minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to large baking pan.

To serve:
Spicy greens, washed and cut to bite-size if needed
Salt and pepper
A drizzle of red wine vinegar

Before serving, heat up a few tablespoon of  brown butter in a pan. Add the cooked gnocchi and shake the pan until the gnocchi are coated in butter. Divide into four individual plates. Take the pan off of the heat, add the greens, and toss with the remaining butter. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and mound next to the gnocchi. If you wish, drizzle a little red wine vinegar on the greens.

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