Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nioc à l'Italienne - Gnocchi

Plain bread crumb dough nioc, served with butter and Parmesan sauce.The French had not begun to eat potatoes (1740); it is not plain that Italians were then either.

Nioc Dough:
1/4 cup butter plus enough boiling water to make 1 cup liquid
2 cups dried bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
2 eggs
10 or so tablespoons cold water
Butter and grated Parmesan for the sauce
Handful of chopped, minced and pounded Partridge or other poultry flesh, or
Handful of very finely chopped and squeezed dry, blanched spinach, or
Bits of cooked marrow or other meat/drippings

Melt butter and add enough boiling water to make a cup of liquid. Pour the bread crumbs into a bowl and add the boiling water and butter. Let stand 10 minutes. Mound the flour on your pastry board and make a well in the flour [holding some of the flour back to add as needed. Add the eggs, 10 tablespoons water, grated Parmesan and soaked bread crumbs to the well [now is also the time to add the optional ingredients—keeping in mind that on Fast (maigres) days, no meat or extra grease would be used]. Blend them together with a fork, gradually stirring in the flour by drawing in the flour into the liquids. Continue to stir in flour until the mixture has become a rough dough, knead it by hand 10 minutes, or until elastic. [You may not have used all of the flour or extra tablespoons of water.] Wrap the dough or cover with a bowl and let it stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Take 1/4 of the dough (keep the rest covered) and divide it into 10 pieces, keeping all but the one you are rolling covered. Roll out each piece into a 1/2-inch in diameter dowel shape. Cut each roll into pieces half of your little finger’s length. Gnocchi pieces have traditionally been further rolled on a grooved board or back of the fork to produce grooves that will help the sauce it’s served with to adhere. Leave each piece to dry on a lightly floured surface, such as a basket or tray, which will aid in getting the gnocchi into the cooking water.

Have ready a large pot of boiling water. It is not necessary to add salt to the water as the Parmesan should be enough seasoning. Drop gnocchi into boiling water, stirring up at the beginning to prevent sticking. When they float to the top, they are done; remove with a slotted spoon to a large pan with melted butter and toss with grated Parmesan. Use a bit of the cooking water to stretch the sauce if necessary. For Feast days [not Fast] you can boil in broth.

Nioc à l'Italienne.
Il s'en fait de plusieurs façons en gras comme en maigre; pour les grasses vous maniez du beurre dans une casserolle, avec du fromage rape, de la mie de pain, un peu de farine, & des œufs entiers, de la chair de Perdrix, ou autres vollailles, un peu de sel; vous mêlez bien le tout, & y mettez de la moëlle de Bœuf hachée; pour les maigres elles se font de même, l'on n'y met point de moëlle, ni de chair; vous les faites vertes, si vous voulez, en y mettant des épinards; vous mettez une casserolle sur le fourneau avec de l'eau; quand elle bout, vous les coupez à même l'appareil gros comme la moitié du petit doigt; a mesure que vous les mettez dans l'eau, en mettant la derniere vous couvrez la casserolle & l'ôtez de dessus le feu; étant prêt à servir, vous les dressez a sec avec du fromage, du beurre par-dessus, & servez; pour les grasses vous les faites cuire au bouillon, & les servez avec leur bouillon de bon goût.

Le Cuisinier Gascon. A Amsterdam. 1740, p.44.

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