:: There aren’t too many restaurants that I return to and order the same dish every time, as I’m incurably curious by nature and always looking to taste new things.
But one dish I will order time and time again is the baked gnocchi from C Restaurant in Perth. The gnocchi are light as pillows, smothered in a decadent gorgonzola cream with roasted tomatoes and spinach. Topped with parmesan, it’s then baked and brought straight to the table, bubbling and molten. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to stray further on the menu.
I decided to try and replicate the dish at home. Proper gnocchi are made from mashed potato, flour, egg and seasoning – nothing else. The secret to making good gnocchi is to keep the potatoes as dry as possible, which means you need less flour to bring it all together and this give you a lighter end result. Do not over-boil your gnocchi! I’ve had a disastrous moment when I got distracted and the little gnocchi absorbed too much water, turning to mush.
I use Jamie Oliver’s gnocchi recipe from his cookbook, Cook with Jamie.
6 medium floury potatoes (I used nadine)
2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 large egg yolk
1-2 handfuls plain flour
Sea salt and pepper
Semolina flour for dusting
3 tbsp gorgonzola
3 tbsp butter
6 tbsp double cream
2 tsp tomato paste
Large handful of baby spinach
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
Preheat the oven to 250°C. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and lay on a roasting tray. Roast for a about an hour until the potatoes are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Allow to cool for a little bit and then, while they are still nice and hot, use a tea towel to pick up your potatoes one at a time, cut in half and scoop out the flesh into a mouli or ricer.
When you have a lovey smooth mashed potato, place into a bowl with the nutmeg, salt, pepper and egg yolk. Add enough of the flour to bind the mixture – you might need more or less flour depending on the size of your potatoes. Mix together and knead with your hands until you have a slightly moist, doughy consistency. To get the hang of perfect gnocchi dough requires practice but as Jamie says, if you’re unsure try testing one by chucking it into some boiling water – if it falls apart, add a bit more flour to the dough.
Once the dough is ready, divide into three pieces and roll each on a floured surface to the thickness of a sausage. Cut each tube into 2.5cm pieces. Place on a bed of semolina flour on a tray and place in the fridge for 10 – 20 minutes to set.
Put a pan of salted water on the boil and then heat a frypan over low heat. Add the gorgonzola, butter and cream, stirring until the cheese has melted and you have an even consistency. Stir in the tomato paste and add the spinach, gently agitating the pan until the spinach is wilted.
Cook the gnocchi in the boiling water for four minutes, or until they float to the surface. Drain carefully in a colander as they are very delicate and divide between your serving bowls. Pour over the sauce and top with grated parmesan.
Place bowls until a griller until the top is melted, browned and starting to crisp. Serve immediately with a fresh green salad and some bread to mop up the creamy sauce.