Gnocching on Heaven’s Door

Image source: Contributed

“To a lot of people, gnocchi are those doughy little white lumps you buy in a packet from the supermarket once and never make the same mistake again. 

But there is a whole world of gnocchi variations out there and they are all simple to make and delicious in their own special ways. 

I’ve chosen to share my favourite flavours for Autumn as they all make the ultimate comfort food we crave when the weather starts to cool down.” – Matt

GNOCCHI PARISIENNE WITH TRUFFLED MUSHROOMS AND GRUYERE

This version is based on the French choux paste, piped into boiling water in small amounts to form little dumplings. It can be fried in butter and served with a squeeze of lemon, or baked with mushrooms, bechamel and cheese like this version.

Don’t be put off by the idea of making choux paste, it’s not as critical to get it as perfect as when you make profiteroles.

Ingredients:

  • 125 ml water
  • 125 ml milk
  • 60 gm butter
  • 125 gm plain flour
  • 1tbs chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 eggs
  • 250 ml milk
  • 20 gm butter
  • 20 gm plain flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100 gm gruyere, grated
  • 2 tbs black truffle paste
  • 250 gm oyster mushrooms, roughly shredded
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 50 gm butter
  • 1 golden shallot, finely sliced
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  • Bring milk, water and butter to a simmer and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Beat continuously over a low heat for 2 minutes.
  • Add parsley, mustard and eggs and beat until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle.
  • Pipe small lengths of the gnocchi mixture into a large pot of salted boiling water. Remove them to a tray as they rise to the surface and refresh in iced water.
  • Drain the gnocchi, gently toss with oil and divide between four small baking dishes.
  • Sauté the mushrooms in olive oil until lightly coloured, add the shallot and butter and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Scatter the mushroom mixture over the gnocchi.
  • Heat the 250ml of milk until almost simmering.
  • In a small saucepan, cook the butter and flour over a medium heat for 2 minutes.
  • Gradually add milk to form a smooth béchamel sauce.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the truffle paste, egg yolk and half of the Gruyere.
  • Spoon over the gnocchi and mushrooms, sprinkle with remaining Gruyere and bake for 15 minutes at 160°C or until golden.

Serves 4

Serve With:

Pretender: 2020 Armand Heitz Julienas Beaujolais, Beaujolais, France $45-$50

Perfect: 2020 Ashton Hills Estate Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, SA $65-$70

Pretentious: 2018 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric del Fiasc, Piedmont, Italy $225-$230

SPINACH AND RICOTTA GNOCCHI GNUDI

The gnocchi with the cutest name in the business, ‘gnudi’ from the Italian ‘naked’ are often baked and served with brown butter or cream. I like to make them healthier by sitting them in homemade tomato sauce and cooking them in the oven until they are golden brown on top. Buy the firm ricotta from behind the deli counter, not the soft type from the fridges. This is my absolute favourite version 0f gnocchi to make and eat. 

Ingredients:

  • 500 gm firm ricotta
  • 500 gm spinach
  • 75 gm Parmesan, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 x 400gm tin crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  • In a hot pan, wilt the spinach (a quarter at a time) with a few tablespoons of water and transfer to a tray to cool.
  • Once it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze out all excess moisture with your hands and chop the spinach finely.
  • Mix together the spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, nutmeg and salt and pepper until well combined.
  • Roll heaped dessertspoon amounts of the mixture into balls.
  • Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook over a medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the sauce into a greased ovenproof dish and space the ricotta balls evenly on top.
  • Bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 180°C.

Serves 4

Serve With:

Pretender: 2021 La Guardiense Fiano Sannio, Campania, Italy $25-$30

Perfect: 2020 Chionetti Dogliani San Luigi Dolcetto, Piedmont, Italy $40-$45

Pretentious: 2019 Antinori Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione, Tuscany, Italy $100-$105

POTATO GNOCCHI, LAMB RAGOUT, KALE AND PECORINO

This is the classic version and the one most people have trouble with. My advice is to always use unwashed potatoes, and as soon as they are cooked, pass them through a sieve, make the dough and shape them while the mix is hot. Once they are cooked and refreshed, they can be re-blanched to reheat them, or fried in a pan to make them crispy and golden.

Ingredients:

  • 400 gm unwashed potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 100 gm (approx.) plain flour
  • pinch nutmeg
  • salt and white pepper
  • 500 gm diced lamb shoulder
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stalk rosemary
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bunch kale, stripped from stalks and roughly chopped
  • 60 gm pecorino, finely grated
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  • In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until just cooked. Drain well and pass through a sieve, mouli or ricer.
  • While still warm, mix in the flour and seasonings until just combined.
  • Roll pieces of the dough into logs 1-2cm in diameter, then cut each log into 2cm pieces.
  • Cook the gnocchi one half at a time in boiling salted water until it rises to the surface, then transfer to a bowl of iced water to refresh. Drain well and toss with a little olive oil.
  • Fry the diced lamb in the oil until well coloured. Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrot, and bay leaf and continue to fry for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock and rosemary, cover and cook in a 170°C oven for 90 minutes.
  • Add the kale and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the gnocchi and gently stir through.
  • Divide between 4 bowls and serve with pecorino.

Serves 4

Serve With:

Pretender: 2019 Argiano Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy $35-$40

Perfect: 2019 Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy $45-$50

Pretentious: 2019 Marchese Antinori Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore, Maremma Tuscany, Italy $225-$230

About the Author /

[email protected]

Matt Golinski is a highly regarded chef with a passion for simple, produce-driven cuisine based on seasonal, fresh local ingredients. He is an active member of the Slow Food movement, a champion of artisan producers and a generous mentor to keen young chefs. He is the Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador for the Gympie region; Ambassador and Advisory Executive Chef for Peppers Noosa; and a festival favourite.

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