Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Dinner: August 23
Let’s start with the truth. My gnocchi experiment was the biggest disaster of my cooking endeavors thus far.
When I began cooking, there were a million (or more) recipes I wanted to learn, though gnocchi was not necessarily one of them. I’m not a huge fan of potatoes, so the thought of that traditional dish didn’t exactly pique my interest. However, I recently watched one of my favorite chefs, Giada de Laurentiis, prepare a mascarpone and lemon gnocchi on her “Giada at Home” show that looked amazingly good. It looked challenging, but I was up for that challenge.
The first part of the process went well. I gathered the dough, prepared exactly per the recipe linked above, but things started to go terribly wrong when I started trying to form the dough into oval pieces. Sadly, it went downhill from there.
Basics: Combined mascarpone, egg, egg yolk, nutmeg, lemon zest, freshly grated Parmesan, and salt with a hand mixer. Added flour and mixed to form dough. Used two small spoons to attempt to form teaspoon-sized pieces of dough, and tossed pieces into pan of flour to coat. Put pieces into boiling, salted water, cooked for 5 minutes or so.
That’s where the process stopped. The pieces looked nothing like oval-shaped gnocchi and were flimsy. When put into the water to boil, they bloated to 2-3 times their original size and most quickly fell apart. They were large balls of mush. I tried to put a few of them into the recommended sauce of olive oil and basil, but most of them wouldn’t come out of the water in one piece.
It was a mess in every way. The few “gnocchi” that I was able to fish out of the pot of mush were cheesy but bloated with water and not really edible.
In retrospect, I truly don’t know what I did wrong. I followed the recipe to the measure, and the dough looked like it did on the television show. But forming those little suckers was not easy, and it was then that I saw they were pretty weak. Their inability to hold up to the boil was no surprise, but the quickness with which they fell apart and absorbed so much water was very disappointing.