Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gnocchi alla Romana

Despite the fact that I've been taught a couple of times how to make gnocchi I've never managed to master it - or at least not to achieve the featherlight consistency that makes it such a delicious thing to eat.

However when I was casting around for recipes for students recently I remembered this easy-to-make Roman version which is really surprisingly delicious. The thing to remember is to get the gnocchi mixture completely cold before you start trying to stamp it out.

And yes, for those of you might feel inclined to remind me, following my blogpost the other day, that it contains both eggs and cheese, I accept that it does. But the crucial thing is that it doesn't taste like it ;-).

Serves 4-6

600ml whole milk (i.e. not semi-skimmed)
150g fine semolina (spotted in Waitrose the other day. Also in Italian delis and some Asian shops)
2 medium eggs or 2 large egg yolks
75g parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
A good slice of butter
Salt, pepper and nutmeg

Pour the milk into a heavy saucepan and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and shake over the semolina gradually, stirring vigorously as you so so. Replace the pan over the heat and stir until the semolina is thick enough to stand a spoon in. Cool for a few minutes then beat in the eggs and three quarters of the cheese. Spread the semolina into a rectangle about 1 cm deep over a wetted baking sheet and leave to get completely cold and firm .(A couple of hours at least. I didn't leave it quite long enough so it was still slightly soft when I started to cut it up.)

Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Thickly butter a baking dish. Stamp out circles from the semolina with a scone cutter or the rim of a wine glass and arrange them overlapping in the dish, tucking the offcuts underneath and down the sides. (Or simply cut it into squares and arrange them in the dish).

Melt the butter and pour over the gnocchi then sprinkle generously with the remaining parmesan. Bake the gnocchi for about 20-25 minutes until the top is nicely browned. Serve with a simple tomato sauce and/or a salad.

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