Sunday, November 08, 2009

Homemade Gnocchi

I've been afraid to make gnocchi. I'm really a novice pasta maker, and I was fearful my first effort would culminate with chewy little bullets of starch. But recently purchased a potato ricer in anticipation of making lefse over the holidays, and I had a free afternoon and a bag of potatoes, so I decided to give homemade gnocchi a try.

I followed Heidi Swanson's recipe, except that I used a potato ricer instead of a fork to break up the boiled potatoes. I just about burned my fingertips off peeling the hot potatoes. In addition, I had some trouble scoring the nuggets with a fork; my final gnocchi were a little misshapen and lumpy looking.

Appearance aside, the gnocchi were delicious! Light little pillows of goodness, velvety in texture, with a delicate potato flavor. Much better than any store-bought product and surprisingly good for my first effort.

I dressed my gnocchi with a rich tomato-vodka-cream sauce, accessorized by a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. My family lapped it up.

Tomato-Vodka-Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup vodka
3/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over a medium flame. Add the garlic and shallots and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Don't let the garlic burn! Add the tomatoes; smash the whole tomatoes up with the back of a spoon in the pot. Add the basil leaves. Reduce the heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover; add the vodka. Cook for an additonal 5 minutes until most of the alcohol has burned off. Add the cream and heat through. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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