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Ricotta Gnocchi with Contessa Sauce

 

 

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Ricotta Gnocchi with Contessa Sauce

(Gnocchi di Ricotta con Salsa “Contessa”)


Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen
by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich,
2001, Alfred A. Knopf

“What’s in a name?  Sometimes the name of a dish reflects reality and some-
times it’s pure romance. I’m not sure which Contessa in what part of Italy
enjoyed this dish, but from the ingredients and preparation, she lived some-
where in the north. Regardless, the flavors are excellent, and this was a
big seller in my first restaurant, Buonavia, which we operated from
1971 to 1982.”

For the gnocchi
1 1/2 pounds fresh ricotta cheese or
3 cups packed whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, plus more
for the pasta water
2 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-
Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg,
preferably freshly grated
2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed,
plus more for forming the gnocchi

For the sauce
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 thin slices prosciutto (about 1 ounce),
cut into 1/4-inch strips
10 fresh basil leaves, torn into quarters
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-
Reggiano cheese

Make the gnocchi:  Spoon the ricotta into a large, fine-mesh sieve or a colander lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth or a basket-type
coffee filter. Set the sieve over a bowl and cover the ricotta well with
plastic wrap. Let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator at least overnight,
or up to 24 hours. Discard the liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat.
Turn the drained ricotta into mixing bowl. Beat the eggs and 1 teaspoon salt
in a separate bowl until foamy. Stir the eggs, 1/2 cup grated cheese, pepper, and nutmeg into the ricotta with a wooden spoon or spatula until thoroughly blended. Gradually add as much of the flour as necessary to form a soft and sticky dough. Ricotta-gnocchi dough is always soft and sticky – don’t work
in so much flour that you have a firm and smooth dough, or the gnocchi
will be tough and heavy.
Divide the dough into six approximately equal pieces. Roll one of the dough pieces out with a back-and-forth movement of your palms and fingers to a rope about 1/2 inch wide. Flour your hands, the work surface, and the
dough lightly, as necessary, to prevent the dough from sticking. Cut the roll crosswise into 1/4-inch lengths. Repeat with the remaining dough. Dust the cut gnocchi lightly with flour and toss them gently to separate. Let them
stand while preparing the sauce.
Make the sauce:
  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add
the prosciutto, basil, and pine nuts and cook, stirring, until the pine nuts are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup heavy cream, bring to a boil, and boil until the sauce is lightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat while cooking the gnocchi.
Stir the gnocchi, a few at a time, into the boiling water, stirring gently but constantly. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until they float to the top and are tender, about 5 minutes.
If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and gnocchi, fish
the gnocchi out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and add
them directly to the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the gnocchi gently,
return them to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta
to a boil, stirring gently to coat the gnocchi with sauce. Stir in the whipped
cream, remove from the heat, and stir in the grated cheese. Check the seasoning, adding salt if necessary, and serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings
 

Featured Archive Recipes:
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