June 2007

Technique: No-Egg Gnocchi
Chef Joey Campanaro of The Little Owl — New York, NY
Adapted by StarChefs
.com

Gnocchi are an Italian standard dating back to the 12th century, but the best way to prepare them is a hotly debated topic among Italian chefs, and techniques and ingredients vary greatly depending on region. When making gnocchi, texture and weight are the two essential factors to consider – the goal being to make them as light and as soft as possible. Egg is a common ingredient in gnocchi but, while it does help bind the ingredients, it can potentially weigh-down and toughen the fragile dumplings.

Chef Joey Campanaro of The Little Owl in New York says necessity was the mother of gnocchi’s invention – potatoes were originally used in pasta by poor Italian peasant folk because the cost of semolina was too high. Campanaro eliminates the egg entirely from his gnocchi and uses a combination of potatoes and flour for his base. He explains that the high starch content is actually superior to egg as a binder. The key is to avoid over-handling the dough – just mix it, cut it and cook it. The resulting eggless gnocchi are optimally airy and supple.

Step 1: Boil potatoes in salted water until they are tender, approximately 25 minutes to half an hour. Cool at room temperature (do not refrigerate!) and pass through a food mill.

Step 2: Incorporate flour little by little until the dough forms into a smooth round ball. Allow the dough to rest 20 minutes at room temperature draped with a clean cloth.

Step 3: Portion dough and roll with fingers into ½-inch thick ropes. Dust the ropes with more flour and cut into 1-inch dumplings.

Step 4: Blanch the dumplings in boiling water. When the dumplings float to the surface, use a spider to transfer them to a bath of ice water to stop the cooking process. The dumplings will get harder as they cool. Reserve, coated with minimal oil, until pick-up.

No–Egg Gnocchi with Pork Bolognese
Chef Joey Campanaro of The Little Owl — New York, NY
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

Chef Joey Campanaro's No–Egg Gnocci
    Gnocchi:
  • 2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled
  • ¼ cup salt
  • All-purpose flour

    Pork Bolognese:
  • 3 pounds ground pork
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 celery stalk, cleaned
  • 1 bunch basil leaves, torn
  • 1 #10 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup Chianti
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

For the Gnocchi:
Boil potatoes in salted water until they are tender, approximately 25 minutes to half an hour. Cool at room temperature (do not refrigerate!) and pass through a food mill. Incorporate flour little by little until the dough forms into a smooth round ball. Allow the dough to rest 20 minutes at room temperature draped with a clean cloth. Portion dough and roll with fingers into ½-inch thick ropes. Dust the ropes with more flour and cut into 1-inch dumplings. Blanch the dumplings in boiling water. When the dumplings float to the surface, use a spider to transfer them to a bath of ice water to stop the cooking process. The dumplings will get harder as they cool. Reserve, coated with minimal oil, until pick–up.

For the Pork Bolognese:
In a large skillet, brown the ground pork. In a food processor, roughly chop the carrot, onion and celery. When the meat has browned, add the crushed garlic and cook for 5 minutes, then add the vegetables, canned tomato, basil leaves, Chianti and water. Simmer until the sauce thickens, approximately 40 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.