It's not often that I have the extra time to cook at home. If dinner happens at all, it usually ends up being something like a bowl of rice & beans with an egg on top. Or a piece of fruit. Fast, cheap, easy, and filling. My mantra. When you cook all day, gathering the strength to do it all over again in the comfort of your home can be a struggle. BUT, when I do gather that strength, I enjoy putting on a bit of a show. The last time a meal like that happened to occur was unfortunately in May ( I said I was busy!). Better late than never I suppose. Without further ado, here is a post on said dinner.
Baked Gnocchi, English Peas, Asparagus, and............SPAM.
First thing's first: set your oven for 350 and get a pot of boiling salted water going. Prick 2-3 large Idaho potatoes all over with a paring knife. When preparing gnocchi, I like to set the potatoes on a bed of kosher salt. This has two functions: it helps to season your potatoes as they bake, and draws moisture from them, leaving you with a lighter fluffier potato when it comes time to make the dumplings. Leave the potatoes to bake in the oven until they're cooked through and a knife or fork can easily be pushed in.
Ham and green veggies (Broccoli, beans, peas, etc...) is a common ingredient combination in France, often referred to as "Farmer's Style". I didn't have any ham nearby, but I did find this can of Spam - leftover from a holiday gag gift. Here goes nothing...
The assemblage of ingredients: onions, peas, asparagus, basil, thyme & oregano, spam, spinach.
Once the potatoes are done, split them open and allow the steam to release a bit. Remember, moisture is your enemy here.
Pull the potato from the skin and get them moving in your ricer.
The end product should be light and fluffy. Do not pack the potatoes!
Allow the potatoes to cool to at least room temperature before working in any flour. If you need to, cover them lightly with a piece of parchment paper so they don't dry out at they cool.
Time to work in the flour. I've found that a good ratio is 100g. of AP Flour for every 500g. of cooled riced potato.
Work it in gently, being careful not to make big lumps or smash the potatoes together. Just pick up piles of the mixture and rub it in between your fingers until all the flour is incorporated.
1 whole egg for every 500g of potato.
Begin to work the egg in. Again, all you're doing it combining the ingredients. Just work the dough until it comes together. Over mixing will be detrimental to the final texture of your gnocchi.
Cut off a golf ball sized piece and roll it into a snake, making sure that the thickness is uniform throughout. Cut into little pillows. Add tiny amounts of flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
At this point you can roll your gnocchi off the back of a fork or a wooden gnocchi board to create that traditional look. Since working at Gracies though, I am a firm believer in the pillow shaped gnocchi. Besides, why would you want to smash all the light pillowy goodness?
Have a pot of salted boiling water at the ready and drop your gnocchi in once they are all cut. When they float to the surface, they are done and can be pulled from the water. Lay them out on a pan to cool and air dry. If they begin to stick, coat them in a little olive oil. The dryer your gnocchi are, the better they will sear.
Into a screamin' hot pan they go.
Once they've gotten a good bit of caramelization, introduce a healthy dose of whole butter. Allow it to brown.
In another pan, saute your onions...
...and any other goodies you may want to add to the mix. Don't forget the Post-Apocalypse-Surviving-Not Sure What Part Of The Pig It's From-Is It Even Pig-Meat Product.
This is a good time to get your hard herbs in.
Butter a cast iron and fill with your mix of potato pillows and veggies/canned meat.
Top with an unnecessary amount of parmesan cheese and crisp in the oven on broil.
Who said Spam doesn't have a place in the professional kitchen? I can assure, this is one you'll be coming back to. That's some funky fresh on a budget cooking right there. This whole dish probably cost about 10 bucks. Time to kick back and enjoy!