Mario Batali's Gnocchi = He's My Hero

I once asked an authentic Italian-American chef how to learn more about Italian cooking, and he literally told me to cook from the Babbo cookbook. So, when my mother got me Mario Batali's Babbo cookbook for Christmas, I was beyond excited. I knew I was in for a treat with his earthy, authentic recipes. Some people might never tackle homemade gnocchi, but if you ask me, there is no other kind.

It is really hard for me to go to eat Italian food because people who open Italian restaurants are usually in the business of butchering the food's authentic flavor and replacing it with American standards. Nothing bugs me more. Thumbing through this cookbook, it's easy to see why he is not only pioneering modern day Italian cuisine, but also how down to earth he is as a chef.

So the gnocchi... I had to try it. Gnocchi is a touchy food for me because I ate in Italy and it was so good that practically any other time I have eaten it has been disappointing. I also wanted to make Mario's version because there is a recipe for it with a venison ragu. I happen to have an entire deer frozen in my freezer (well, not the whole deer, mind you, we've eaten some already, of course!)

It's also Monday. Which means I want to brighten your ever-loving day with a little food porn. And since Mario and Monday both start with "m," well, you see where I am going with this. Onto the food-filled pictorial adventure!


For gnocchi, you must use russet potatoes. They have the proper starch content. But it's also important that you boil them in their skin and remove it after cooking. 


So I did. I will warn you, it hurt... just a little. But cooking isn't for the faint of heart, so.... 


Then I sliced them so I could put them through my grinder. 


Gotta love the Kitchen Aid mixer--no home should be without one! 



Some people have pasta boards, but I have this piece of granite left over from my husband's days at a granite place which he fashioned into a counter top piece. It works just as well. The "thingy" to the left is a dough scraper that my mom gave me for Christmas. I don't know how I ever lived without this thing! It does the work of 20 gadgets!


I sprinkled the potato with flour and added and egg. 


Then you beat the egg as if you were making a regular pasta dough. 


And then you work it in. I have to say that I feel like making potato gnocchi dough is a might bit easier than pasta dough because of the moisture from the potatoes. 


But the feeling of accomplishment is no different!


Divide it into 6 equal parts... 


Which you then roll into these strips... 


And cut into the little pillow shapes!


In the cookbook, Mario Batalli says that you should roll them onto a fork to make that classic gnocchi imprint. You know what I think? Every time I eat them in a restaurant they aren't at all shaped--only the packaged gnocchi seem to come this way! So I abstain from this ridiculously time consuming step. It's more rustic (or at least that is what I tell myself). 


Then you boil them for just a couple of minutes!


Then to stop the cooking, plunge them in ice water. Essential step in the process, if I do say so myself. 


Then drain them in a colander. 


To make the ragu, get your venison steaks ready. 


Cut up the venison steaks. 


Then brown them on both sides 


Add the ingredients and braise away! (Because, as we all know, braising meat is my very favorite at the moment.) 


And then it works itself down to a nice ragu... YUM! 



And plate it up over the wonderfully soft gnocchi. 


Topped with parmesan cheese, of course!


Thank you Mario Batali, thank you... now I don't have to live in a dark world without perfect gnocchi. 


4 comments:

  1. That looks divine... now to scout out some venison!

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  2. Ummm. what ingredients did you add to the venison for those of us who weren't given Mario's cookbook or can't read minds?

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  3. Hey foodielass! Sorry it took me a spell to get back to you! It's got carrots, celery, garlic, tomato paste, red wine stock and rosemary in it.

    If you don't have the Babbo cookbook, it's one I highly recommend adding to your holiday wish list!!!

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