When we decided to stick with Aubert&Mascoli and start a series of guided food and wine matching supperclub nights, i was quite convinced that the best way to enhance the flavours of the wines proposed during these nights was only to reproduce a regional foodie journey which could fit both the dish and the wine tasting experiences together. I asked myself: why not to revise a dish from the same region of the wine? I was always convinced that there must be some yet to be discovered reason for which some products grow only in some regions and go so bloody amazingly along each other. I just couldn’t help the picture of Tuscan people preparing the wrong food for the wrong wine for centuries and being happy with it. So i got my research started.
“Regional Italian cuisines for any future use” i labelled this new section section of my recipe book as i was coming up with ideas and gathering them up. Future matching nights with our wine girl Colleen (next one on the 10th of March) were coming anyway: too many good wines i wanted to find a good food pairing for!. And research is good anyway. All this studying, in fact, brought me to think of a sort of spin off series of supperclubs which will envisage some of the most interesting and not so known to the big audience regional Italian cuisines (next one on the 26th of February, inspired to the modern Roman cuisine. not to miss out! Only few places left, just to let you know). In this first recipe dedicated post, i’ll give my personal interpretation of the Mixed Herbs Gnocchi from Verbania, right on the north side of the Piedmont region, as they featured on our supperclub night in February.
Ingredients for 4 people:
350g “00” wheat flour
200g mixed fresh herbs
spoonful of nutmeg
1 handful of Pecorino Romano cheese
1 egg yolk
Making the gnocchi dough: boil in well boiling, and salted, water the potatoes, with the skins on, until ready for mashing. Then drain them and leave them cooling for a bit. When cold peel them off and place them in a pot. Get a nice potato masher and start the fight.
In the meantime get ready some fresh herbs. Choosing the herbs is really up to you: just try for a nice combination, i used chives, lemon thyme and parsley. Wash and clean them up and eventually chop what you have left on your kitchen board quite finely .
Put together flour, the egg yolk, mashing, nutmeg, cheese and a bit of salt and start sticking your fingers in it. You need to get a dough which is not too soft, not too dry and most of all not sticky! Help yourself with some more flour if you need it to thicken the dough but don’t overdose too much: it’s homemade, don’t ask the the dough to be nice and perfect, perfection is the results of many little imperfections that work together in quite a right way. They say so, at least 😉
Now you have to make the actual gnocchi. Either you to shape long strings and cut them up in little pieces or model little dough balls from the big dough ball with your hands, you will be fine. What you need to learn is how to give those things some gnocchi credibility. Get a fork and with its top side up, gently press the mini dough balls you shaped before, and pull them towards you giving them a nice oval, traditional shape. In this phase you might like to have a wooden board and some flour on it, just in case the gnocchi want to stick together against your evil plans of cooking them up 😉
Place the gnocchi you made on a tray, at a small distance fom one another and hey! you made some gnocchi, the Italian way!
A few tips to not poison your guests: gnocchi can be frozen. Homemade gnocchi like to be fresh and wild so if you have a good fridge storage you can prepare them one day in advance otherwise wait. If you’re serving them for lunch, get them ready in the morning, if you are serving them for supper, start the rolling just after lunch. Well, if you want to know why all this caring about storage, you can always leave them out of the fridge for one day and taste yourself how acidic they can get. And they really do get acidic, trust me 😛
You can serve the gnocchi with butter and sage, butter and Parmesan or try to invent some new ways. We made them with mussels. Whatever you decide to cook them with, always bear in mind a couple of things: gnocchi are the last thing you have to cook as they take oly 1-2 mins to be ready. Gnocchi are to be served straight away as they they get cold and soggy in no time!
Enjoy your foodie life and let us know how you find this recipe.
26/02 a modern Roman kitchen inspired supperclub
10/03 a food&wine matching night with Aubert&Mascoli throught the wines of Central and Southern Italy