This dish is one of my all time favorites. It is simple to make and delicious. Due to the pungent nature of the Gorgonzola (Italian bleu) cheese, meal accompaniments should be complementary. For example, very ripe sweet bite size cantaloupe pieces wrapped with very thin Proscuitto ham is a great appetizer, or perhaps a robust salad-like (more vegetable varieties and less cheeses) antipasto, in which case no other salad is necessary with the meal. Alternatively, a tossed salad with Italian dressing provides a nice acidic taste counterpart to the cheese sauce. A well peppered charcoal grilled steak or pork chop, or other meat that is not bland (like grilled Italian sweet or hot sausages) goes well, much better than chicken or fish. Crusty hot rolls with butter are a nice addition. I recommend a clean tasting white wine with this meal, semi-dry, like an Italian Pinot Grigio or French White Burgundy, or a buttery California Chardonnay. Red wines are not appropriate as their taste/aftertaste interferes/clashes with that of the cheese sauce. As usual, a side glass of ice water is a must. Dessert should be light and cold, like a small dish of spumoni ice cream.
I have not made the gnocchi from scratch yet but I expect to do so soon. I have found it too easy to buy really good gnocchi cheaply! The remainder of this recipe is basically as I got it from the Internet, along with a few of my hints.
Gnocchi are a potato based soft pasta, with enough flour used to allow workable dough to be formed. When you use less flour, you end up with lighter gnocchi, which is good. The trick is to not overwork the dough, and to use only as much flour as is needed to create soft, workable dough. By using the yolk of the egg alone the dough is more tender than it will be with the whole egg. When you want to cook the gnocchi, drop small amounts (ten pieces per batch) into two quarts of salted boiling water. When they rise to the surface they are complete. That only takes about two to three minutes per batch.
If you want to make this dish in the easiest way simply buy packages of gnocchi at your supermarket. You will save a lot of time and effort.
Ingredients: (Serves four to six people)
For the Gnocchi:
4 medium sized russet potatoes (about 2 lbs.)
1 large egg yolk
1-2 cups of flour
Salt (No quantity given, so I suggest 1/2 tsp. of sea salt)
For the Gorgonzola Sauce:
4 oz Gorgonzola cheese (room temperature) (more is better, I like 6 oz)
1 oz butter (one fourth of one stick)
8 oz heavy cream
For the Garnish:
Freshly chopped parsley (about ½ cup)
Grated Parmigiano cheese (Buy a chunk of Locatel and use a hand operated grater. Don’t use pre-grated cheese.)
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Wash and dry the potatoes.
Bake the potatoes until they are fork tender, about 45 minutes. Adjust the baking time up or down based on the size of the potatoes.
While the potatoes are baking prepare the sauce. Slice the cheese into thin slices. Heat the cream and butter in a good quality (thick bottom) large non-stick skillet over low heat until the butter is melted. Then add the cheese gradually while stirring. Continue until all the cheese has been completely mixed into the sauce. I then let the mixture boil gently for a few minutes, stirring constantly, to slightly reduce the liquid content, which causes desirable slight thickening. Set the sauce aside in the skillet in which it was prepared. You will use it later.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and put them through a potato ricer. If you are impatient like me you can save time by cutting the potatoes in half lengthwise while hot and scooping out the contents with a soup spoon while holding each hot half with a dish towel, and discarding the skins. You can also use an electric mixer on low speed to create the same effect as a potato ricer.
While still warm, place the prepared potatoes on a large wooden cutting board forming a mound with a hole in the center.
Add the egg yolk and the ½ tsp. salt into the center.
Slowly start adding the flour a little at a time, mixing well with your hands and continue until you have created soft workable dough.
Knead gently only briefly until you have achieved a smooth, pliable if slightly sticky dough.
To shape the gnocchi, first break the dough into pieces about the size of a tennis ball, and roll each piece into a log about 1/2 to 5/8ths of an inch in diameter.
Cut the log into inch long pieces.
To finish, take a fork and place it against your work board.
With the fork back towards you, press each piece of dough with your index finger firmly up the length of the fork tines.
Let the gnocchi fall back onto the board and continue with the remaining pieces in this manner. This process gives the gnocchi the characteristic fluted design on one side and somewhat flattens the gnocchi from tube shape to slightly oval.
Place the prepared gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet and either cook immediately, or keep refrigerated until ready to use, preferably not more than 3 hours.
To cook, drop about ten pieces per batch into two quarts of salted boiling water and remove individual pieces as they float to the surface. Drain the gnocchi and set them aside.
Now is the time to grill the meat, so that it can be served hot on a warmed serving platter.
During the grilling of the second side of the meat, mix the gnocchi a few pieces at a time gently with the Gorgonzola sauce, over low heat, in the same skillet used to make the sauce. When it starts to boil (bubble gently) it is done.
Serve the gnocchi and Gorgonzola cheese sauce hot in a pre-warmed serving dish, and sprinkle it with the fresh, chopped parsley.
Sprinkle individual servings with freshly grated Parmigiano cheese at the table. Note it is well worth buying a small drum type hand crank grater to do harder better quality grating cheeses at the table. You can find them in stores that specialize in Italian foods.
I like to season the dish with a small amount of finely cracked black peppercorn. Salt is not needed as the Gorgonzola cheese provides plenty of salt.