Gnocchi is the knuckle-shaped dumpling that has successfully shed its homely origins to find itself on many top-end Italian restaurant menus. Although it is a fairly modern iteration, potato gnocchi is my favourite. Starchy potatoes are the key to ensuring a super-light texture which distinguishes homemade gnocchi from the dense-as-a-singularity character commonly associated with the supermarket variety.
I find boiling the potatoes with their skins on helps to ensure the end product has a creamy, “light as a cloud” consistency – but I may be in minority on this matter. Baking the potatoes is the preferred method, but you risk lumps in your gnocchi so beware.
Once cooked, the gnocchi can be served immediately (as a side dish) after being fried in olive oil and butter to give them a crispy shell. Even better: they can be baked in a rich blue cheese sauce and served on their own, or alongside fresh peas.
Step 1: The Gnocchi
4 medium potatoes, whole, un-skinned
50g Ricotta cheese
1 whole egg, beaten
Salt and black pepper to season
Fill a pot with cold water and add the potatoes. Bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes are uniformly tender (about 30 minutes). Once cooked, skin the potatoes using a spoon and mash together with the Ricotta and the flour. Add the egg and seasoning and work into a lump-free dough making sure not to over work the gluten.
Cut the dough in half and, on a suitably floured surface, roll each piece into long ‘ropes’ about 1cm thick. Cut the ropes into 2cm pieces using a fork and gently squash each piece with the back of the fork.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the gnocchi in batches, making sure the individual gnocchi do not stick to each other. Cook the gnocchi until they start to float (about 2 minutes). Drain the gnocchi and allow to steam-dry.
To finish off the gnocchi, heat a frying pan with a little butter and olive oil and sauté until well browned.
Step 2: Blue cheese sauce
150g blue cheese, crumbled
1 slice of white bread, crusts removed
50g Gruyere cheese, grated
Add white bread to a small food processor and blitz to form breadcrumbs.
Heat cream in a saucepan and simmer until slightly reduced (about two minutes). Add blue cheese to saucepan and stir until the cheese has melted (about three minutes). Lay out the fried gnocchi into a wide, ovenproof dish and pour over the blue cheese sauce. Top with breadcrumbs and Gruyere.
Bake in oven at 180°C for 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and crumbs are tanned. Serve hot.
The De Krans Premium Cape Ruby partners well with the blue cheese sauce, which enhances the wine’s red berry character and plays off against its gentle sweetness.