Mother Earth Living

Savor the Flavors of Fall: Gnocchi with Brown Butter

By Vicki Mattern
October/November 2007
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Makes 6 to 8 servings

Gnocchi are little dumplings made with potatoes. Be sure to use baking (Idaho or russet) potatoes; waxy potatoes will not work. The dough can be made a day or two ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen until you’re ready to cook.  For extra flavor and color, if desired, sprinkle cooked gnocchi with pancetta (Italian bacon).

• 2  large baking potatoes
• 2  large egg yolks
• Salt and pepper
• About 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
• 2 ounces pancetta, coarsely chopped, or 6 slices bacon (optional)

In a 350-degree oven, bake potatoes until tender. Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and mash very well with a fork (or use a ricer). Allow potatoes to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, place potatoes, egg yolks, salt and pepper. Gradually add flour, 1/3 cup at a time, stirring quickly to incorporate each addition of flour until mixture forms an easy-to-handle dough (about 3 minutes). Depending on moisture of potatoes and humidity, you might need slightly more or less flour. Knead for about one minute.

Break off a piece of dough. On a floured work surface, roll dough into a rope about 1/2-inch thick. Cut rope into 1-inch pieces. Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the center of each piece.

Chef’s Tip: For light-textured gnocchi, peel and rice the potatoes while they are still warm to hot.

Repeat with additional pieces of dough, rolling them into ropes, then cutting into 1-inch pieces and pinching centers, to form dumplings.

To cook, drop gnocchi into a large pot of boiling, salted water; cook for about one minute after gnocchi rise to the surface of the water. Drain in a colander, then toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Before serving: Heat large sauté pan over medium. Add optional pancetta and cook until crisp, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels. Clean pan, then heat butter until golden brown (be careful not to burn it). Add gnocchi and cook until brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer gnocchi to serving plate. Drizzle with brown butter, then sprinkle with pancetta or bacon, if desired. Serve with Braised Kale with Thyme.

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