February 20, 2019

Gnocchi alla Romana

Recipe:

If you have never prepared Gnocchi alla Romana you are in for a very delicious treat. At any time of the year or occasion you can proudly serve this simple, yet very rich dish.  A true mouthwatering Primo Piatto.

Gnocchi alla Romana is a dish that is claimed by the people of the region of Lazio where the great capital city of Rome lays. There has always been a bit of a culinary war as to the origin of many Italian dishes and who claims to have birthed the specialty. Due to the large amount of butter used in this dish there is great controversy as to the origin of this classic Italian dish. It is customary for northern Italian regions to use ample butter in their cooking, but as the bickering of where this dish was actually born continues, we are going to enjoy making a delicious PRIMO!

Contrary to traditional gnocchi, which are usually prepared with potatoes, these morsels of goodness are instead made with Semolina, the flour used to make cream of wheat.

As a note of interest there is a big difference between Semolina  and Farina di Semola. Both are made from hard durham wheat.

The difference is that one is ground to a coarse consistency similar to a fine sand - SEMOLINA - and is used to prepare what is known as Cream of Wheat or Porridge.

The other instead, - FARINA DI SEMOLA - is flour that has been ground to a much finer consistency and texture. This is often labeled as "Semola Rimacinata di Grano Duro", or "Flour twice milled from Hard Wheat". This one is used in the preparation of dough to make pasta or some breads. 

Kind of confusing, but important to note! 

So back to the important thing! The making of the Gnocchi alla Romana. Simply pick up what is called Cream of Wheat flour which is then cooked in milk with the addition of butter, cheese and egg yolks. This is not the Semolina flour typically used to make pasta, but it is plain ground wheat used to make the breakfast porridge. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter milk 
  • 225 grams semolina (cream of wheat flour, not Semolina flour for pasta dough)
  • 90 grams butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 50 grams homemade mascarpone
  • 120 grams parmigiano reggiano 
  • 25 grams gruyere cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • Parsley for garnish

Supplies:

  • Gusto wood-fired oven
  • infrared thermometer
  • baking sheet
  • round pastry cutter

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your wood-fired Gusto Oven to 325°F - 200°C.
  2. Bring milk to a simmer.
  3. Add salt and a hint of nutmeg.
  4. Slowly sprinkle the semolina (cream of wheat NOT semolina flour) into the milk and stir continuously. 
  5. Once the cream of wheat has thickened up, take it off the heat source and allow it to cool off a bit.
  6. Add the egg yolks, 2/3 of the Parmigiano Reggiano, and half of the butter.  Mix thoroughly. 
  7. Place your baking sheet under  running water. Pour the thick cream of wheat mixture on the wet surface of the baking sheet.  The water will make it easier for the semolina circles to come out of the pan once they are cut. Spread and smooth it out until it is 1 cm thick. Cover with plastic wrap, but leave a small opening for steam to escape. Allow it to completely cool.
  8. Once it is cooled, with a round cookie cutter or pastry cutter, begin to press out circles.     
  9. You will be left with a lot of small pieces. No worries! Nothing gets wasted. Hide the small, leftover irregular pieces of the semolina on the baking pan. Place the perfect circles of cut out semolina on the pan and fan them out on top of one another.
  10. Once all of the circles have been carefully placed on the baking pan, sprinkle the gruyere cheese and the rest of the Parmigiano Reggiano over the top of your semolina dish.  
  11. Finally, use the rest of the butter by placing dollops over the dish. 
  12. Place in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Buon Appetito!

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