Sunday, February 6, 2011

Potato Gnocchi with Pear and Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

 I went out to dinner with my family for my daughter's birthday last night. She chose to go to Olive Garden. (She always chooses Olive Garden.) Eric and I weren't very hungry, so we decided to split the Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli. We substituted chicken for the shrimp because Eric doesn't like shrimp. It was good. I loved the flavors of the pear and the Gorgonzola cheese. I figured, I've got some ripe pears and a tub of Gorgonzola cheese in the fridge, I could make something like it at home. I've been meaning to try my hand at making gnocchi too. So, when I started getting hungry for lunch today, I knew exactly what I wanted to make.

I was surprised at how easy it was to make the gnocchi. I baked some potatoes, pulled off the skins, mashed them and added flour and salt. I kneaded it until it was a soft, smooth dough. Then, working with 1/4 of it at a time, I rolled it into a 1/2" log and cut it into 1/2" pieces. Once they were all cut, I gently rolled them down the tines of a fork and they were ready for the pot. You only boil them until they float, which took about 2 minutes. Super easy and it only took about 15 minutes once the potatoes were done baking.

My sauce was super simple too. I peeled and cubed up a pear and cooked it in butter until it was soft. Then I stirred in a bit of flour, let it cook to get rid of the raw flour taste and added a bit of milk. I brought the sauce to a boil to thicken it and added a handful of Gorgonzola cheese. After the cheese was melted into the sauce, I poured it over the gnocchi and garnished it with a couple chives and a sprinkle of extra cheese.

It was very good. The gnocchi were beautifully soft pillows of potato. The sauce was creamy, salty and tangy with little bursts of sweetness from the pear. The extra cheese on top was a bit much, it ended up overpowering the sweetness of the pear. I think I'll add a bit of extra pear when I eat the leftovers.

In case my approximations are a bit too fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants for you, I'll post some more exact recipes.

Potato Gnocchi
This is a basic recipe. You can mix it up by using sweet potatoes or adding garlic or herbs.

2 lbs russet potatoes
1 tsp salt
1-2 c flour

Bake the potatoes until they are tender. Allow them to cool until you can handle them. Remove the skins and mash them up in a medium size bowl. (I found a fork worked better for this than a potato masher.)
Starting with 1 cup, add the flour and salt and mix it together until it forms a smooth and soft dough. Add more flour as needed to absorb the moisture. You do not want this to be a wet dough.
Cut the dough in 4 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a 1/2" log and cut into 1/2" pieces. When the gnocchi are all cut, you can either put an indentation in the middle of each, or roll them down the tines of a fork.
Drop 1/2 of gnocchi into salted boiling water. Stir to keep from sticking. When they float, not just bob to the surface, take them out with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the second half.
If your sauce is ready, put them directly into the sauce. If not, drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. This will keep them from sticking together.

Pear and Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

1-2 d'Anjou pears, peeled and cubed
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
3/4 c milk
1/3 c Gorgonzola cheese
salt and pepper

Cook the pears in the butter until slightly softened. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Whisk in milk and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and whisk in cheese.
Season with salt and pepper.

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