Anyone who knows me understands that gnocchi is one of my favorite dishes, but I am very particular about my gnocchi. It should be light and airy, not dense and gummy and although I usually prefer to make ricotta gnocchi, there are times when I need potato gnocchi instead. Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays are behind us, I have started to miss our home in Umbria.
I love everything about Umbria, with its food being at the top of the list. To bring Umbria into my Florida kitchen last week, I decided to make a Norcina sauce. Norcia is a town in Umbria that sits at the base of the Sibillini Mountains and is famous for its pork products. One of the dishes Norcia is associated with is a sauce made with sausage and mushrooms; that is deliciously bound together with heavy cream.
Though this sauce is very rich and decadent, it is the epitome of comfort food and works well paired with many types of pasta, including gnocchi. Because the sauce is rather heavy, I feel it works better with potato gnocchi rather than the more delicate ricotta gnocchi. This dish is a very hearty one, so I feel it is best served as a main course rather than first course or primi.
I have been testing out many variations of potato gnocchi lately and have found that I prefer baking rather to boiling my potatoes, as it helps to keep the potatoes dry requiring less flour. The less you knead the gnocchi, and the less flour you use will help to create a light textured gnocchi.
Using the potatoes while they are still warm also helps to reduce the amount of flour needed helping to keep your gnocchi light. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes are both good varieties of potato as they are quite starchy though I prefer Russet potatoes.
- 3 Medium to Large Potatoes (About 2 1/2 Pounds Riced)
- 1 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour (Plus Extra For Rolling)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 4 Mild Sausage Links
- 8 Ounces Fresh Mushrooms, Cleaned And Coarsely Chopped
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Minced
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Dry White Wine
- Salt & Pepper
- Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
- 1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and place the potatoes on a baking sheet.
- Bake your potatoes in their skins until fork tender, about 45 minutes.
- Cut the potatoes in half, then place on a plate until they are cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes.
- Scoop out the potato flesh and press through a potato ricer into a bowl.
- Add the egg yolks, and slowly start adding the flour a little at a time, mixing gently with your hands and continue until you have created a soft workable dough.
- Knead gently only briefly until you have achieved a smooth, pliable if slightly sticky dough.
- To shape the gnocchi, first break the dough into fist sized pieces, and roll each piece into a log about the thickness of your thumb on a lightly floured surface.
- Cut into 1 inch pieces.
- Place the prepared gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
- Remove the sausage meat from the casings, and cook until no longer pink in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, breaking up the meat with a fork as it cooks, about 7 minutes.
- Once the meat begins to brown, add the olive oil, onions and mushrooms and continue to cook until the onions and mushrooms are soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 mintes.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute or two.
- Add white wine, and simmer uncovered a few minutes until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
- Add cream and season with salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste.
- Continue to cook over medium low heat until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.
- To cook, drop carefully into salted boiling water and remove immediately as they have all floated to the surface.
- Drain, return to the pot and add half the sauce.
- Gently toss the gnocchi to coat with the sauce, then spoon the gnocchi into individual bowls.
- Serve the gnocchi, with an extra scoop of sauce on top.
- Pass the grated cheese at the table.