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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Easy Chestnut Gnocchi Recipe | You've Got Meal!

It is entirely Mrs. G's merit for introducing chestnuts in our kitchen and it was a stroke of inspirations from her. We first ate the woody fruit boiled and, although I have to admit my reticence, I really enjoyed the sweet, nutty,  taste of the chestnut. And, from that to gnocchi there was just one more step.

Chestnut gnocchi is a dish cooked in North Italy, in the mountainous region where wheat flour was often substituted with chestnut flour or buckwheat flour (Pizzoccheri della Valtellina comes to mind here). The gnocchi is really easy to make, either with pureed fruit or with flour, depending on what you can get your hands on. There isn’t much of a difference in texture or taste, but you have to keep in mind the fact that if you boil the chestnuts and mash them, they will have some water left in them. If using flour, also use potatoes (boiled or baked) and replace the wheat flour (all or part of it) with the chestnut flour.

Anyway, this the way we made the gnocchi: 
  • 300 grams of blitzed (in a blender) boiled chestnuts, 
  • 200 grams of wheat flour,
  • 1 egg, 
  • a healthy splash of a good quality, fruity olive oil, 
  • salt.

  1. Mix all the ingredients together, adding more water if necessary to make the dough. Knead it until you get a silky outcome and let the dough rest in the fridge for half an hour. Quick note here: love the color of this gnocchi – dark brown, similar to a classic toffee. 
  2. Next, we split the dough into 4, and worked each piece into a, let’s call it snake form, 2 cm thick. 
  3. Cut each string of rolled dough in equal 2-3 cm gnocchi dollops. 
  4. In order to give them the classic look, roll each gnocchi on the back of a (preferably long) fork. 
  5. In order to cook the pasta, bring to a boil a nice amount of salted water and put in it some gnocchi, put make sure you don’t overcrowd the pot, they will need room to rise and cook – I kept mine around 4 minutes longer after they’ve raised to the surfaced. 
  6. Remove from the pot and let them steam for 2 minutes.

You know from previous posts that we enjoyed the butter-sage mix for the gnocchi, so we decided to play it safe for our first chestnut cooking attempt. 
  1. Melt 75 grams of butter on medium heat and cook 2-3 tbs. of chopped sage in it for 30 seconds. 
  2. Pop the gnocchi in the pan and mix well in order to make sure it is well coated with the sage and butter, cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Plate and grate a fair amount of Pecorino Romano, maybe add a tiny splash of olive oil. 

As a couple of conclusions to this dish, I have to say that chestnut gnocchi is not a bad option at all from the classic recipe, I would come back to it on special occasions, but I think I would stick to the spuds for the “everyday” gnocchi. 
The sweet and nutty taste is something special and it does give a rather unique feel to the whole dish -  also quite filling, I couldn’t eat my usual portion of pasta. And it does have the wow factor when presented at a dinner table, so keep that in mind when trying to figure out a menu for an occasion like that. 


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