I have eaten lots of different gnocchi dishes, some stuffed, some fried and some baked, I love them, just avoid the gnocchi sold in supermarkets. A great friend of ours and Italian foodie Anna, has been telling me that I should try Gnocchi alla Romana - it's made with semolina rather than potato.
Like all great Italian dishes, there's an argument over the provenance of this dish - and the best way to make it. Anna is from Piedmont, a region famous for mountains, truffles, wine and for the best butter in Italy. Butter and creamy milk are important in this recipe, however, as the name would suggest, Rome has laid claim to this dish - I wasn't going to quibble!
Anna very kindly invited me into her kitchen for a lesson on how to make this famous dish. Oh boy, this is Italian comfort food at it's best. If I'd been blindfolded, I might have been fooled into thinking I was eating the best made potato dauphinoise. It has a lovely soft, creamy texture with a contrasting crunch from it's golden edges, a satisfying salty savouriness from the grana padano and a nutty sweetness from the nutmeg. It's a must-try to serve as a starter or side dish.
Gnocchi alla Romana
1 litre whole milk
2 egg yolks
100g butter, cut into cubes (plus extra for buttering your dish)
Finely grated nutmeg to taste
100g Grana Padano, grated (plus some extra to grate over)
1teaspoon sea salt
1. Warm the milk in pan with around a third of the butter, one teaspoon of salt, a grating of nutmeg.
2. Once the butter has melted, pour in the semolina, whisking at the same time to prevent any lumps for forming.
3. Cook the semolina in the milk for around 4-5 minutes, whisking regularly, until the mixture has thickened and holds on to the side of the pan.
4. Remove from the heat and using a wooden spoon, stir in the egg yolks, followed by the grana padano. Once everything is fully combined, allow the mixture to cool for a minute before tipping it out onto a large piece of baking parchment.
5. As the mixture cools, it becomes quite firm. Using the parchment around the dough, you are able to roll it into a cylinder shape, about an inch and a half thick. Try to make this as uniform a shape as possible.
6. Place the compact dough onto a tray and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, you can leave it overnight or even a couple of days.
7. When you are ready to cook to gnocchi, pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Butter an oven proof dish then slice the semolina dough into disks, about half an inch thick. Arrange the disks, slightly overlapping, in your dish and scatter the remaining butter cubes evenly over the top. Generously grate some more Grana Padano over the top.
8. Bake the gnocchi in the oven for around 30 minutes. You are aiming for lovely golden crispy edges to form as they cook. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before dividing between plates.
Tip: You can prepare the gnocchi in the baking dish, with the butter and grated Grana Padano well in advance and keep it in the fridge, ready to pop straight into the oven.
Enjoy! And foodies, don't forget to tag us in socials or leave a review if you do make this at home.
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