Get Some Gnocchi
Gnocchi (noh’-kee). Bite-size potato pasta. The essence of comfort food — potatoes and pasta — combined into a tasty pillow of deliciousness. Somewhat trendy, yet completely approachable by the do-it-yourself chef, it pairs nicely with a little bacon and the most friendly (to cook and to the palate) cream sauce I’ve ever tried. Call it lunch. Call it dinner. I call it homemade gnocchi carbonara. I also call it my new favorite dish.
I misunderstood gnocchi to be somewhat daunting and time-consuming. However, it is fairly simple and very versatile, complementing nearly any sauce — pesto, marinara, Alfredo, or even a light herb/oil base. I chose carbonara for its rich, buttery taste and hearty texture. Melded with the potatoes, you get a little bit of everything in one bite. Enjoy!
• 4 large potatoes (preferably Russet)
• 1 large egg
• salt and pepper to taste
• ¾-1 cup of all-purpose flour
• ½ lb. bacon (preferably thick-sliced)
• 1 ½ cups half and half (whole milk will work, but the more milk fat the creamier the sauce)
• ¼-½ cup Parmesan cheese (the more you add, the thicker the sauce)
• 4 tablespoons real unsalted butter
• salt and pepper to taste (I like mine a bit peppery to complement the flavor of the bacon)
• 1 large egg (local and cage-free if possible; it makes a difference)
For the potatoes to be completely malleable and the right consistency, they must be partially cooked. While there is not much difference in taste, I prefer the texture and ease of baked over boiled.
Poke your potatoes 8 times each, and microwave them until just the ends are tender, 8 minutes or so. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Carefully peel your potatoes, place in a baking dish, and transfer them to the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes. When done, a toothpick should pierce through the entire potato with ease. Scrape the sides of the potatoes with a fork to mash them as finely as possible. Cool slightly before proceeding.
Gently whip the egg in a small bowl until it is uniformly colored. Pour it over the mashed potatoes and knead by hand until fully distributed. Work in flour to a doughy consistency.
Break the potato dough ball into 8 pieces. Roll each to a 1-inch thickness and cut it into 1-1 ½-inch pieces. You may continue cooking or freeze the gnocchi for later use if you wish.
Cook your bacon in the same large pot you will use for the cream and gnocchi. When almost crisp, remove bacon from pan and discard or set aside all but 1/3 of the grease. Bring the half and half to a boil. Meanwhile, add the butter, salt, pepper, and garlic (if gnocchi is frozen, add it now).
When at a rolling boil (boiling across the entire pan), stir the mix until it calms down. (This is the only time the cream will rise to that level; don’t worry!) Let it continue to boil for about 2 minutes, adding the gnocchi now if it is fresh), and remove from the heat. Add the egg and cheese, and fold in gently. When you feel the sauce begin to thicken, it’s ready to serve!