Italian white wines have taken over consumer affection. Indeed, for the first time in decades, sales show that French and American wines have stepped down after dominating the British drinkers’ habits.
People seem to very much enjoy the pinot grigio. Apparently, the Italian white wine has become the default choice in UK kitchens. Sales show that Pinot Grigio now accounts for 40% of UK sales. That makes it the third most popular grape variety, after the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon blanc.
Why this Italian success? The reasons are highly sensible to how much cheaper its wines are compared to others. According to the Daily Telegraph, an average Italian wine in Britain is £4,23 where a French wine compares to an approximate £5,11 average.
So what will it be: Gnocchi and Pinot Grigio this summer?
Filed under Dinner, Italy, UK, wine
Earlier this week, I had a little chat with Chef Loic Malfait from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School. We got to talking about gnocchi and how to prepare them. According to the chef, the Italian potato dough should always be served as a tribute to its Mediterranean origin. We can then play with southern flavors such as basil, olive oil, mozzarella, and pesto. You get the picture…
Pillowy dumplings are best to define the delectable gnocchis and with a glass of wine, they are almost a fashion statement nowadays. Of course the greatest thing is not only that as a meal they taste amazing with almost anything, but they are also affordable and easy to make.
However I must admit the ‘finesse’ of the dish relies on the shape of the little goodies. Paying attention to details is key here and I suggest looking at traditional Italian cookery books to get an idea of how gnocchi should look like.
The perfect/traditional shape of Gnocchis resembles a sea-shell. To make them have this particular silhouette is a must and does not require any particular skill or wit. Indeed, follow the following steps:
- Take some of your dough preparation and roll it to make a lengthy sort of sausage.
- Cut the end of it and roll it your hand to make a little ball.
- Then take a fork and squeeze gently the little ball onto the fork’s end.
- Roll it up and you’ll have a little seashell look alike.
- The perfect gnocchi is in your hand.
Just a tip: don’t forget to put some flour onto the fork. Otherwise, it may stick onto the tool and it can get nasty.
When talking to a friend about my new found devotion for gnocchi last weekend, she proclaimed that I must try Nigella’s roast potato gnocchi! My puzzled expression resulted in her telling me that they are the best thing since, well, roast potatoes or regular gnocchi I suppose.
As soon as I got home I was straight on Google to find out more…
It turns out that ‘rapid roastini’ or quick ‘roast’ potatoes are simply shop bought gnocchi (more on the brands available in the supermarkets and our reviews and recommendations on them at a later date) which are fried in a pan or roasted in the oven (an area of considerable online debate is appears).
The basic recipe for rapid roastini’ is as follows:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 250g/9oz ready-made or leftover potato gnocchi
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan.
- When the oil is hot, put the gnocchi in, making sure you separate them as you do so, and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown.
- Turn them over and give them another 3-4 minutes on the other side, or until browned on both sides.
- Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper, then sprinkle with sea salt flakes and serve.
(Note the difference from German Schupfnudeln which is similar but requires the gnocchi to be made from scratch and are longer than traditionally round gnocchi – something that I’m sure we’ll have a go at some point in the future).
Maggiedon says “These little babies may just change your life!” and I for one am keen to find if that’s true, particularly because the pictures of these golden brown balls that are light and fluffy on the inside, yet divinely crispy on the outside have well and truly got my mouth watering! I have therefore taken up the challenge to make these roastini myself this weekend. Update and photos from me to follow and in the mean time you can watch Nigella.
Only one question remains: what shall I serve my rapid roastini with? Free range Otway pork chops like fellow food blogger Sarah Speedy or with roast chicken instead of roast potatoes like Stephen?
Making Potato Gnocchi
The quality of your gnocchi depends on the quality of your potato. It should be a perfect balance between floury and waxy. Our team is planning and extensive planting programme so next year we will have scientific ‘proof’ but for now we are backing King Edwards.
Scrub, but do not peel, about a Kilo of potatoes. Place them in well salted cold water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer until soft (depends on the size of your potatoes, it’s easier if they are all of a similar size). While still hot, peel them. Now you have a choice. Some say dry them out for 10 or 15 minutes in a medium oven. If you want to try this, break the cooked potatoes and place in a baking tray and cover loosely with foil.
Alternatively mash them finely – a ricer is perfect, a fork will do – but it is worth pushing the resultant mash through a sieve if you’ve gone for the fork method. Then add 300g of flour, 00 or plain. If using plain flour (it delivers a better result if sifted), one whole egg and a very good pinch of salt. Mix together whilst the potato is still hot.
Dust your work surface with flour. Giorgio Locatelli recommends flattening your mix in to a rough square about 1.5cm thick and slicing it in to 1.5cm strips then gently rolling it. I like the precision of this but it’s equally good to take off a chunk and roll it into a sausage about 1.5cm thick. Cut the resulting sausage in to 1 – 1.5cm lengths using more flour as needed to stop it sticking to the surface or to each other.
Lastly, take a small fork and lightly press it down on each piece of Gnocchi – so the fork leaves an impression.
If you are going to cook immediately, bring a pan of well salted water to the boil and gently pop the gnocchi in. When the Gnocchi comes to the surface, it’s cooked. Scoop out with a slotted spoon or sieve and sprinkle with olive oil and a sliver of butter to stop them sticking together whilst you warm the sauce of your choice.
Gnocchi freezes well but you need to do it on a floured tray so they don’t freeze into one big blob. You can cook straight from frozen and the same rule applies – when it rises to the top of the pan, it’s cooked