Monday, September 21, 2009

Mastering the Art of French Cooking - "Gnocchi Gratines au Fromage"

Or "Gnocchi Baked with Cheese". This is only my second recipe out of MtAoFC. I have never eaten gnocchi, let alone made them. But, a friend of mine tweeted last week about a gnocchi dish (her's was different but sounded delicious!) and I decided to flip through my copy of MtAoFC and see if there was a recipe in there for gnocchi, and sure enough, there was. There were several in fact. After reading through them, I decided on the "Gnocchi Gratines au Fromage". Wish making it had been as easy as typing this. While none of the steps were really difficult, there were many steps to the final presentation. You have to make two other recipes before you can make the final one. Let me elaborate.

In order to make Gnocchi baked with cheese, you must first make "Gnocchi De Pommes De Terre", which is Potato Gnocchi. However, in order to make the potato gnocchi, you must first make "Pate A Choux", which is Cream Puff Paste. Did I mention there were a lot of steps to this recipe. Just checking. :)

Here is the recipe for "Pate a Choux"...     

For about 2 cups
A 1 1/2 quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan
1 cup water
3 ounces (6 Tbls.) butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
pinch of nutmeg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (scooped and leveled)
4 large eggs

Bring water to boil with the butter and seasonings and boil slowly until the butter has melted. Meanwhile measure out the flour.
Remove from heat and immediately pour in all the flour at once. Beat vigourously with a wooden spatula or spoon for several seconds to blend thoroughly. Then beat over moderately high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and the spoon, forms a mass, and begins to film the bottom of the pan.
Remove saucepan from heat and make a well in the center of the paste with your spoon. Immediately break an egg into the center of the well. Beat it into the paste for several seconds until it has absorbed. Continue with the rest of the eggs, beating them in one by one. The thrid and fourth eggs will be absorbed more slowly. Beat for a moment more to be sure all is well blended and smooth.

Okay, so now you have your cream puff paste made. In the meantime you need to be working on getting the potato portion of the recipe made. Here is the  recipe for Gnocchi De Pommes De Terre...

These make a good luncheon dish, or may be used as a starchy vegetable to accompany a roast.
     For about 12 gnocchi, 3 by 11/2 inches when cooked

3 to 4 meduim-sized baking potatoes
1 cup warm pate a choux (see above recipe)
1/3 cup grated Swiss, or Swiss and Parmesan, cheese
A 12" skillet of simmering salted water

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil in salted water until tender. Drain and put through a ricer. You should have 2 cups.
Dry out the potatoes by stirring them in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over moderate heat for a minute or two until they film the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.
Beat the pate a choux and the cheese into the potatoes. Correct seasoning.
Take the mixture by dessert-spoonfuls and roll it with the palms of your hands on a lightly floured board to form cylinders about 21/2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter.
Slip the gnocchi into the simmering water and poach, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Water should remain almost but not quite at the simmer throughout the cooking. If it boils, the gnocchi may disintegrate. When they have swelled almost double, and roll over easily in the water, they are done. Drain on a rack or a towel. 

There was a small note between recipes that read...
"Additions to the Potato Gnocchi Paste -
     Any of the following may be mixed into the gnocchi paste along with the cheese, and are especially good if your gnocchi are to be served as a main course.
     3 to 4 TB minced fresh herbs, such as chives & parsley.
     1/4 to 1/2 cup minced cooked ham or bacon
     1/4 to 1/2 cup sauteed diced mushrooms or chicken livers.

I am serving mine for dinner tonight so I chose to add some cooked bacon to the paste.

Once you have made your pate a choux, and your potato gnocchi, there were a couple of ways to finish off the dish. One was with a cheese sauce which meant more pots and more cooking to create the sauce you would pour over the gnocchi before baking. I decided to pass on that recipe. The final recipe, the Gnocchi Gratines au Fromage, was simple and is as follows...
Gnocchi Gratines au Fromage (Gnocchi Baked with Cheese) 
The preceding gnocchi
1/2 cup grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese
2 TBL. butter cut into peasized dots

Arrange the drained gnocchi in a shallow, buttered, baking dish. Spread the cheese over them and dot with butter. Set aside uncovered.
Ten minutes before serving time, reheat and brown them slowly under a moderately hot broiler.
This is the finished product. I made a small dish to try. It was delicious! Creamy, smooth, mild flavors.This definitely falls into the category of comfort food. I used both Swiss and Parmesan cheese and the blend was perfect. I could just taste the potatoes and the bacon was a nice background taste in addition to the cheese. I am going to serve these with some steamed broccoli (a favorite in my house) and some crusty french bread rolls.  The only other note I will add, if you don't like to wash dishes, don't make this recipe. Here is what my kitchen looked like when I finished. :) In all fairness a couple of those items were from baking Cottage Cheese Pufflets, but most of what you see came from making the Gnocchi baked with Cheese. I wouldn't make this every week, but, in my opinion, it was worth the mess. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know what you think. I love to hear from other bakers.