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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ricotta Gnocchi: Another Learning Experience

Confession: I've never tried Gnocchi. The first time I saw it I was 21 years old and it was in my sister's freezer. I went and looked it up online later. I've since heard of it and seen it too many times to count, but until a couple of weeks ago, had yet to try it. I should probably say that I still haven't really tried it, since I've only had my own.

When King Arthur Flour Co posed this recipe for potato gnocchi, I bookmarked it and told myself I'd get to it soon. When I found myself in the possession of a cup of ricotta cheese that was soon to go bad, and came across this recipe from Three Many Cooks for ricotta gnocchi, I made my decision. I printed the recipe and left it on the kitchen counter to stare me in the face when dinner time came around. 

I'm crazy. I've never even tried the stuff, and had no idea what the texture or flavor should be like, and there I was, attempting to make it. Now this approach worked fine for butternut squash soup-- something I hadn't tried but had a pretty good idea of what the texture should be like.

So off I went, combining the cheese and other necessary ingredients...

Then I obediently rolled the dough

And cut the dough

And shaped the dough-- though I admit I had to actually knead it all back into one ball again to add more flour then roll it out all over again because it was WAY too sticky to shape the first time.

Then came the hard part: the boiling. How long does one boil gnocchi? How would I know when it was done? Three Many Cooks said that the gnocchi would "float then swell," so that's what I looked for...only I missed the fact that they'd already swelled by the time they floated, so I waited around for an extra three or four minutes after they were ready, then finally gave up and called them done. As it turns out, they were quite overdone.

I dumped them on some tomato sauce, because I like it. I have no idea if this is how one should eat gnocchi, but Three Many Cooks seemed to think it was okay. 

Can I be really honest here? I actually wrote in to the KAF Baker's Hotline to see if they could shed some light on this meal. Here's how I described it to them: "It was soft all right. And kind of mushy. I expected it to taste a little bit more like pasta, I think. But it felt like I was chewing a waterlogged ball of play-doh. And it tasted bland. Help? As I said above, there are a couple of areas that I easily could have gone wrong. My other question is simply, Is this how it's supposed to taste?"

After writing this, my loyal friend Ben jumped up to take a bite of what I had labeled a disaster. He's had gnocchi before, you see, and likes it quite a bit. He was on the couch while I was making this...why in the world wasn't I asking for his help? In any case, his verdict was a little bit disappointing. He said the texture and flavor weren't perfect, but also not too far off. This really is (almost) what gnocchi is supposed to taste like. Noooooo! I kind of wanted to learn to like a new and amazing food. 

I wouldn't dream of posting a recipe for this experience, but if you like gnocchi, I would highly recommend the two links above for King Arthur and Three Many Cooks, because it really was incredibly simple to make and would be such a joy to add to the dinner rotation! Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. haha yes gnocchi is supposed to have a weird sticky-mooshy-chewy almost glue-like texture, at least that's how the potato gnocchi i get is like. it is weird; i'm not totally sure i like it. that package is still in my freezer. and tomato sauce is a little weird with it, i think a butter-based sauce might go better. i would imagine the dough is supposed to be very sticky since the final product is. they would probably benefit from some salt and herbs mixed into the dough and maybe making really small ones would help with the texture.