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Fresh/Stuffed Pasta & Gnocchi--Cook-Off 13


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I'm not a huge fan of flavored pastas. Especially when it comes to stuffed pastas I think the real payoff comes in the filling. I make stock one a week from chicken backs, so I like to take the fat off the backs and render it for chicken confit. The confit mixed with goat cheese makes a great filling.

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I'm not a huge fan of flavored pastas. 

I agree -- save for black pepper pasta, for which I jones daily. Gotta be sure to grind that pepper finely, mind you, or the peppercorns get caught in the rollers and tear the dough viciously.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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That might be worth a shot. The Magnum pepper grinder goes through a buncha pepper in short order.

I'm not a huge fan of flavored pastas. 

I agree -- save for black pepper pasta, for which I jones daily. Gotta be sure to grind that pepper finely, mind you, or the peppercorns get caught in the rollers and tear the dough viciously.

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Start with good ricotta (not the watery Polly-O crap), a few egg yolks, flour and, if you're me, plenty of nutmeg.  Mix into a light dough, adding just enough flour to bind it together.

Get a guy with thick fingers and hairy forearms to flick each piece over the tines of a dinner fork, and then you're done.  Toss them into boiling water and they're done when they float to the top.

Sam - how much flour, and how many yolks would you estimate for a pound of ricotta?

I don't know if my forearms are hairy enough for this task - I hope they turn out!!! :laugh:

Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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Kristin, what pasta recipe does Batali use? I'm starting to think about hunting down some "00" flour here in Providence somewhere, to use instead of the all-purpose King Arthur that I currently use. My ratios have been the basic 3 eggs to 2 cups flour, with dribbles of water and dusts of flour as needed.

This particular recipe calls for his basic pasta dough which is 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 5 large eggs.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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This might be an incredibly stupid question, but do you freeze Gnocchi before or after cooking it in the boiling water? I'm assuming after, but I just wanted to make sure.

On Lidia Bastianich's PBS show on potato gnocchi, she said you can freeze them before cooking.

When you're ready for them, dump them into boiling salted water. They will take a little longer to cook than fresh gnocchi but they should float when cooked just like the fresh ones do.

 

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Tim Oliver

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Start with good ricotta (not the watery Polly-O crap), a few egg yolks, flour and, if you're me, plenty of nutmeg.  Mix into a light dough, adding just enough flour to bind it together.

Get a guy with thick fingers and hairy forearms to flick each piece over the tines of a dinner fork, and then you're done.  Toss them into boiling water and they're done when they float to the top.

Sam - how much flour, and how many yolks would you estimate for a pound of ricotta?

Like many cooking tasks, after you've done it a while it becomes a "by feel" sort of thing. So I can't really say how much flour and egg yolks for a pound of ricotta. This is all the more true because regular supermarket ricotta has substantially more water content than the almost-as-thick-as-cream-cheese ricotta I'm using. If I had to guess, I'd say something like 1 pound of thick ricotta (drain the supermarket stuff overnight), plus two egg yolks, plus 2/3 cup flour. The idea is to add maybe half of the flour and stir the mixture a few times, and then add in just enough flour to make it come together as a light dough.

For ethereal potato gnocchi, I just don't understand the need for anything but potatoes (yukon work best) and flour -- stop.

I agree with Joe, although I prefer to add just the tiniest grating of fresh nutmeg. The less flour you use, the lighter the gnocchi will be. There are some practical limitations, however. I have made potato gnocchi that, while perhaps a technical feat, were really too light and delicate to be satisfying. Choice of potato variety is also of primary importance if you want to make gnocchi with no other binders. Best is something in between a floury variety and a waxy variety. Yukon Gold are good in this respect, and I've had even better results with Yukon Gold creamers ("creamers" are potatoes harvested in the earliest stages of growth, before they are mature). I've never tried gnocchi with any "heirloom potatoes" one finds in the greenmarkets, but it might be an interesting experiment.

There is also the method of cooking to be considered. Standard practice is to boil the potatoes, but some people swear by baking, which reduces the moisture content and supposedly requires less flour as a result.

Anyone have thoughts on stuffed potato gnocchi? Some of the best I've ever had were stuffed with meat and peas. Another interesting potato gnocchi variant is chestnut gnocchi, made with potato and a mixture of wheat flour and chestnut flour (although I suppose it might be interesting to try making them with a puree of cooked chestnut meat and flour). Excellent with a duck and porcini ragù.

--

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Start with good ricotta (not the watery Polly-O crap), a few egg yolks, flour and, if you're me, plenty of nutmeg.  Mix into a light dough, adding just enough flour to bind it together.

Get a guy with thick fingers and hairy forearms to flick each piece over the tines of a dinner fork, and then you're done.  Toss them into boiling water and they're done when they float to the top.

Sam - how much flour, and how many yolks would you estimate for a pound of ricotta?

Like many cooking tasks, after you've done it a while it becomes a "by feel" sort of thing. So I can't really say how much flour and egg yolks for a pound of ricotta. This is all the more true because regular supermarket ricotta has substantially more water content than the almost-as-thick-as-cream-cheese ricotta I'm using. If I had to guess, I'd say something like 1 pound of thick ricotta (drain the supermarket stuff overnight), plus two egg yolks, plus 2/3 cup flour. The idea is to add maybe half of the flour and stir the mixture a few times, and then add in just enough flour to make it come together as a light dough.

Thanks - this is helpful! I plan to get the ricotta from a local Italian market that makes it fresh, daily. It's very thick and delicious.

Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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Keller has a recipe for gnocchi that uses pate choux instead of potato

I made these years ago for a French cooking class. It was called Gnocchi Parisienne, and the little dumplings plumped up like soft cream puffs when baked in a rich cream sauce. Oh so wonderful.

A much easier gnocchi is a type of Russian cheese dumpling. Throw everything in the food processor, chill, then poach gently in the shape of eggs. Serve with fresh dill and butter or Parmesan and butter.

Everything BUT Italian here.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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I made stuffed pasta yesterday. I belive Moby calls this shape tortelli in his class? The names of the different shapes confuse me sometimes.

Anyway, for the stuffing I braised some veal with shallots, garlic, some chunks of carrot, white wine and some light chicken stock. The next day, I took out the meat and the vegetables. I sauteed a couple of leeks (white only) in butter, transferred them to the casserole and cooked them in the veal-braising liquid until very tender. Moby had suggested this method instead of braising the leeks with the meat, and this was a very good idea.

Meat and leeks were pureed in foodprocessor with braising liquid, eggyolk and parmesan. I kept tasting the stuffing and even after adding lots of salt, pepper and cheese, I still thought it was lacking something. Then I added some grated lemonzest and that really seemed to pull it together, and gave it a sort of zingy lift.

Here you see my far from efficient production line. I had intended to do another pastashape, but because I had so many other things going on for this dinnerparty I chickened out and just did the shape I have made before and that I knew I could pull of.

I still find it very hard to get my sheets evenly sized (or my pasta).

ravioliwerk.jpg

And here it is on the plate. I served them with chanterelles that were panfried in butter. Sauced with melted butter that was mixed with some lemon juice, and chives. Lots of parmesan ofcourse. Yum!!

raviolicantharellen.jpg

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In honor of this cook-off I've invited friends to come over on Saturday to make Ashak (leek filled Afghani raviolis)

I've made ashak with basic pasta dough, and even with wonton wrappers in the past, but if anyone here has a recipe for a particularly good (or more traditional) ashak dough I'd be happy to try it.

Mmm Afghan food!

I'll save the gnocchi for later in the month :smile:

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Keller has a recipe for gnocchi that uses pate choux instead of potato

I made these years ago for a French cooking class. It was called Gnocchi Parisienne, and the little dumplings plumped up like soft cream puffs when baked in a rich cream sauce. Oh so wonderful.

A much easier gnocchi is a type of Russian cheese dumpling. Throw everything in the food processor, chill, then poach gently in the shape of eggs. Serve with fresh dill and butter or Parmesan and butter.

Everything BUT Italian here.

An Italian chef tought me to make those with ricotta and herbs, he called them nudi I think.

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An Italian chef tought me to make those with ricotta and herbs, he called them nudi I think.

Interesting, the gnudi/nudi I'm familiar with (tuscan) are made with ricotta & spinach, but not pate choux. So named (nudes) because they're basically naked ravioli :laugh:

Where was your chef from? My italian aquaintances from other regions all look at me funny when I refer to them by that title, so I've been assuming it was a Tuscan thing.

Eden

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Chufi - those look absolute perfection. I bet they were delicious. I think they would be classed either as agnolotti or ravioli though - depending on the region - tortelli usually have only vegetable fillings.

The recipes I've seen from Batali, Chiarello, and Ducasse all have 150g flour (a little more than a cup) for every 500g potato (a little more than a pound), plus differing amounts of parmagiano. If you add ricotta, and it does improve things, you can cut back on the potato, but less so the flour. By the way, you can also do stufffed gnocchi by rolling out the dough (like Sam does) into a snake, then flattening it to a couple of inches wide, and running a thin line of meat sauce or cooked sausage meat or cooked chicken livers etc down the center, then folding it over and joining it (if you think of it as a kind of potato hose, enclosing the filling). When you proceed to cut the gnocchi, each cut seals off the filling from spilling out. Serve as you would normally.

As to pillowy lightness/texture, and apologies for my slight dip into the technical, you have to start considering starch content, the style of potato, and the gelatinizing of the starch prior to cooking. For this last bit, see Jack Lang's mind bogglingly good egci potato course. Many American chefs prefer older idaho potatoes. Some - like Collichio - prefer the higher starch of Yukon Gold (if you're in the US). The real nut cases in Europe insist on using a type of potato grown in the mountains at high altitude. You're more likely to get a soft non-glue texture using an Idaho if you're a first timer and can't be arsed with the more technical aspects of potato cookery. The Yukon needs slightly more experience to avoid gumminess.

Obviously you must never put the cooked potato into a food processor. Also, you can par-boil them until almost done, cool, oil slightly, and place for several hours in the fridge if you want. Makes the whole thing much simpler. Just warm them through before serving, and make sure they're not stuck together.

Best of luck to all.

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Wow. I can't make the attempt for at least 2 weeks. Now I'm sorry we'll be away over Labor Day! Chufi, those are gorgeous!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

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Moby, any thoughts as to whether it's worth doing Jack's starch retrogradation technique when cooking potatoes for gnocchi? Presumably this would eliminate the possibility of a gluey texture.

--

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An Italian chef tought me to make those with ricotta and herbs, he called them nudi I think.

Interesting, the gnudi/nudi I'm familiar with (tuscan) are made with ricotta & spinach, but not pate choux. So named (nudes) because they're basically naked ravioli :laugh:

Where was your chef from? My italian aquaintances from other regions all look at me funny when I refer to them by that title, so I've been assuming it was a Tuscan thing.

Eden

Eden, sorry I wasn't clear. 2 different things- pate choux gnocci and gnudi made of riccotta and herbs......Umbria.

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Back in May I had this at Spiaggia in Chicago -

GNOCCHI DI PATATE IN SALSA DI RICOTTA E TARTUFO NERO

Hand rolled potato gnocchi with ricotta sauce and Umbrian black truffle sauce

I CANNOT STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. I would be so so happy if I could recreate anything even somewhat like it - the gnocchi were so delicate, the sauce so creamy... insert homer simpson-like noise here...

If anyone has a recipe.... :raz:

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Moby, any thoughts as to whether it's worth doing Jack's starch retrogradation technique when cooking potatoes for gnocchi?  Presumably this would eliminate the possibility of a gluey texture.

Sam, I think it certainly helps, or at least couldn't hurt, especially if someone doesn't have a lot of experience (as much as your fine pasta-making self, for instance!).

The quick version breaks down to five steps, and you'll need a thermometer. 1. Peel and slice the potatoes into evenly sized pieces of approx. 3/4 inch thickness. Place in hot water between 158-160 F for 30 minutes. This gelatinizes the walls off the starch cells. 2. Drain, and either shock in ice water, or place under running cold water until cold. This fixes the starch into gelatin. 3. Return to water almost boiling, and cook until tender (but not over-cooked or mushy, just until a knife encounters almost no resistence when you push it in). 4. Drain, and then I return the tats to the pot over a small flame, just until they dry out. Maybe a minute and a half at the outside. 5. Run through a potato ricer while still hot. Add 150g of flour and an egg and half a handful of parmagiano per 500g of potato. Mix quickly, but don't over-kneed.

As you mentioned, alternatives to this include boiling the potatoes with the skins still on to prevent ingress of moisture, and then peeling the potatoes while still hot, or placing the whole potatoes in a 375F oven for an hour and 15 or so, and then peeling them. Unfortunately, this is just averaging out the mistakes and successes until you have lowest common denominator of texture, and so depends entirely on experience to make it better or worse (i.e. knowing that your potatoes are slightly smaller than usual, or larger, and so should probably only cook for an hour and five minutes, or an hour and forty etc etc.)

By the way, some of the gummiest gnocchi I ever had were in the middle of Naples. To a certain degree, it's a cultural preference. An entirely non-gummy gnoccchi may not be possible or preferable with the flour potato approach. It is partly the gumminess that holds the thing together - which is useful, especially if you want to fry them as well - which is why the ricotta works so well, allowing a lightness.

Edited by MobyP (log)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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By the way, some of the gummiest gnocchi I ever had were in the middle of Naples.

Moby,

are you sure those were potato gnocchi?

I ask because, as someone with a Northern Italian background who moved to Naples as a child, I was used to eating little soft potato pillows and was quite disappointed by the local gnocchi the first times I tried them. I did eventually develop a taste for Neapolitan gnocchi and some time later found out why they are so gummy. Quite simply, there's no potatoes at all in there, rather they're made with flour and boiling water. To get potato gnocchi in Naples you have to be sure the menu says "gnocchi di patate", otherwise it's the flour only kind.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Aaahhhhhh!!!!

I hate every single one of you for making this sound easy!! :angry:

I don't know if dinner will ever get made and it will take days to clean my house.....

back to my struggle with the pasta machine :angry:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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