I love Umbria in the fall because the temperatures have finally cooled, and every weekend there is a new festival celebrating some particular fall ingredient. Before we left Italy, we headed to Pietralunga for their White Truffle & Potato festival, and then the following weekend we headed off to Trevi for the Black Celery & Sausage festival. The fall this year was warmer than usual, and we did not even need jackets except for very early in the morning or late evenings. Luckily the warm weather held right through our olive harvest the end of October. It certainly is much more pleasant picking olives in t-shirts than it is in winter jackets. Every year is different, though, you never know.
At the festival in Pietralunga, truffles and locally grown potatoes were the stars, and you could buy both ingredients, as well as try a number of different dishes using one or both ingredients. We ended up eating lunch at a local restaurant, and I ordered the gnocchi with white truffles. I love gnocchi and could probably eat it every day if it is made well, and this gnocchi was handmade, and topped with white truffles, so how could you go wrong? I enjoyed my lunch so much that I convinced my husband to buy a big bag of Pietralunga’s famous potatoes along with a couple of white truffles so I could make this dish at home.
I usually make ricotta gnocchi when I am craving gnocchi because they are easier to make and always turn out light and tender but this dish called for potato gnocchi, so that is what I made. I bake the potatoes, then rice them while they are still warm. I find that if you mix the ingredients while the potatoes are still warm, you do not need as much flour, which results in a light, not a dense final product. The sauce on my gnocchi in Pietralunga was minimal, so I decided to make a light sauce using truffle cheese to keep the truffle theme consistent. Once cooked and coated in my cheese sauce, my husband shaved white truffles on top before serving. My truffle gnocchi made at home was delicious and is one dish I will be thinking about often in the future.
Making memorable potato gnocchi is quite easy if you follow a few simple steps and choose the right ingredients. Since the two primary ingredients include basic all-purpose flour and potatoes, selecting the right potato is possibly the most important task when making this type of gnocchi. You need a good starchy potato for gnocchi, and Russet potatoes (also known as baking or Idaho potatoes) are ideal. These potatoes have a floury, dry texture; that fluff nicely when baked, and along with making great gnocchi, they also are perfect for frying, baking or mashing. Yukon Gold potatoes, considered a medium starch potato, are also good gnocchi potatoes, but I prefer the Russet variety.
When buying starchy potatoes such as the Russet variety, choose ones without blemishes, wrinkles, or cracks. Although potatoes are often sold in bags, I prefer to choose my potatoes by hand, so I can pick ones that are firm and dry. If you do buy your potatoes in a bag, pick ones sold in perforated bags so that air can circulate. Potatoes will keep well for up to two weeks in a cool, well-ventilated place, preferably between 45 to 50 degrees F. Avoid storing your potatoes in areas that reach high temperatures, such as beneath the sink or next to the dishwasher, or in areas that receive too much sunlight.
Though white truffles are probably too expensive in North America for the average cook, you could replicate this dish simply by using the truffle cheese in the sauce, and by adding a teaspoon or more of chopped jarred truffles, or tartufata, a truffle and mushroom puree that is readily available in most specialty stores and can also be found in the link below. Just a tip that I picked up over the years, if you add a little salt to any truffle dish, the flavor is enhanced.
Deborah Mele 2019
- 3 Medium Russet Potatoes (About 2 Pounds When Baked & Riced)
- 1 1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour (Plus Additional For Rolling)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 3 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 Cups Milk (Plus More As Needed)
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Cup Shredded Truffle Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Shaved Fresh Truffles
- Spoonful Of Jarred Truffle Product (See Notes Above)
- Bake the potatoes (skin on) in a preheated 375 degrees F. oven until fork tender.
- Once the potatoes have baked, cut the potatoes in half and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Scoop the flesh from the potatoes, and press through a potato ricer onto a clean counter or bread board.
- Spread the potatoes and allow to cool just until warm to the touch.
- Beat the egg yolks and pour over the riced potatoes.
- Sprinkle 1 cup of the flour and salt over the potatoes and use your fingers or a pastry scraper to work the flour gently into the potatoes.
- Use your fingers to gently knead to dough adding the additional 1/2 cup of flour as needed until the dough just comes together and is no longer sticky.
- Shape the dough into a log.
- Divide the dough into three pieces, and roll each piece into a log about 1-inch in diameter.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the gnocchi into 1-inch pieces, and once cut, place on a lightly floured baking sheet.
- Once all the gnocchi are cut, refrigerate until needed.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and once melted and bubbly whisk in the flour.
- Gradually whisk in the milk and cream, and continue cooking, and whisking off and on, until the mixture begins to thicken.
- Add the cheese, and whisk until blended into the milk mixture. (If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little extra milk)
- Taste, and season with salt & pepper.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
- Cook the gnocchi right from the refrigerator until they float to the surface.
- Drain the gnocchi, and then return to the pot.
- Add half the sauce, and gently stir to coat.
- Serve the gnocchi in individual bowls topped with a little more sauce and truffle product of choice. (See Notes Above)
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 801Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 214mgSodium: 965mgCarbohydrates: 79gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 26g