Culinary Connections | France Italy Lithuania Slovakia

To egg or not is the question good cooks ignore when making perfect potato gnocchi.
The addition of eggs is associated with Alsace and Piedmont where the technique aids the kneading process, but produces harder gnocchi.
The Alsace version calls for larger pieces, shaped between two spoons. A ratio of 2:1 raw grated potatoes to cooked puréed potatoes is mixed with two eggs and sufficient flour to make a smooth paste. These gnocchi are seasoned with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
In Veneto expert gnocchi makers select potatoes that will not absorb too much flour and hold their shape while cooking. A 4:1 ratio of boiling potatoes to white flour should produce the light fluffy effect demanded by gnocchi aficionados but beware, there are some difficulties.
Marcella Hazan gives one of the best descriptions for shaping Veneto gnocchi using the prongs of a fork. She recommends small gnocchi, 2.5 x 2 cm pieces, which are pressed against the inside prongs and flipped toward the handle of the fork.
‘When gnocchi are shaped in this manner, the middle section is thinner and becomes more tender in cooking, while the ridges become grooves for the sauce to cling to.’
In Slovakia, where they marry old potatoes to a tangy sheep’s cheese called bryndza, the debate is also a matter of preference.
The traditional method for making bryndzové halušky is without eggs and a high potato to flour ratio of 5 to 1.
Then try eating bryndzové halušky with a 3 to 1 ratio made with egg, coated with grated cheese and sour cream, and served with more cream!

Bryndzové Halušky

500 g potatoes, peeled, grated to a purée
300 g Bryndza/sheep's cheese, grated
250 g smoked bacon, cubed
200 ml smetana/sour cream (optional)
100 g flour
1 egg (optional)
Salt, large pinch
Water, for boiling

In a large bowl work potatoes, flour and salt (and if using the egg) into a light dough until it comes away from the edges of the bowl.

Rub or cut into small dumplings.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the dumplings, cook until they rise to the surface, about ten minutes. Drain, retaining the cooking liquid.

Spoon 100 ml of the liquid into a bowl with the cheese, fork and whisk into a thin sauce.

If desired mix half of the sour cream into the cheese sauce.

Fry the bacon until the fat runs, drain the fat and crisp for three minutes, turning constantly.

Arrange the halušky in a bowl, cover with the bryndza sauce, top with the bacon.

Serve with remaining sour cream.


300 g sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled, mashed
200 g flour
100 g butter
1 egg, beaten
30 g caster sugar
30 g Grana Padano, grated
10 g cinnamon, ground
Water, for boiling

Combine the potatoes with the egg and flour, form into large gnocchi.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the dumplings, cook until they rise to the surface, about 20 minutes.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, fry the cinnamon for ten seconds, add sugar and grana.

Toss maneghi in the spicy-sweet butter.

Gnocchi – 1

Gnocchi are not always dumplings, sometimes they are made like polenta.
600 ml milk 
120 g flour
1 egg, beaten
Butter, for greasing and spreading
Hard cheese, for sprinkling

Boil milk, add salt and flour in small amounts. Cook for ten minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the egg, stirring constantly to prevent it cooking.

Pour the mixture onto a clean surface and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cut into squares 4 cm x 4 cm.

Grease a small baking tray, arrange a layer of squares, dotted with pieces of butter and sprinkled with cheese.

Repeat until the squares are used up, finish with butter and cheese.

Bake until a brown crust forms.

Gnocchi – 2

This is the sweet version.
250 ml milk
30 g sugar
30 g vanilla sugar
2 egg yolks
15 g potato starch
Butter, for spreading

Combine ingredients in a heavy based saucepan, and bring the hear up slowly, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.

Pour the mixture onto a clean surface and allow to cool. Preheat oven to 180°C. Cut into squares 4 cm x 4 cm.

Grease a small baking tray, arrange a layer of squares, dotted with pieces of butter.

Repeat until the squares are used up, finish with butter.

Bake until a brown crust forms.

Gnocchi – 3

Every Italian will tell you quietly that the secret to gnocchi is hidden in the choice of potato.

These would be the varieties of Agate, Agria, Amber, Arizona, Chopin, Finka, Marabel, Monalisa, Universa and Vivaldi grown in Viterbo, between Umbria and Tuscany.

The moderate Lake Bolsena climate and potassium-rich volcanic soils produce potatoes with a pasty consistency, ideal for preparing gnocchi.

That secret is out.

Since 1977 an annual Gnocchi Festival has been held in St. Lorenzo Nuovo.

900 g Patata dell'Alto Viterbese potatoes, 
boiled whole in skins, cooled
250 g flour
10 g salt
Water, for boiling
Parmigiano/pecorino, grated fine, for dressing

Pass potatoes through a fine colander or potato masher.

Add half the salt salt.

On a clean surface combine potatoes with flour into a pasty dough.

Roll into a sausage 5 cm thick, cut into 2 cm slices.

Press each piece with the handle of a knife, to form a cup shape.

Bring a large saucepan with water and remaining salt to a rolling boil.

Add gnocchi in batches.

When they rise to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve with a dressing of cheese.

Gnocchi di Castagne al Pesto

Also sweet but rich.
700 g potatoes, baked, mashed
100 g strong white flour
100 g chestnut flour
1 egg
Salt, pinch
White pepper, pinch
100 g basil leaves
100 ml olive oil
40 g Parmigiano
40 g pecorino
30 g pine nuts
1 clove garlic
Salt, pinch

Combine potatoes, the two flours, egg and salt in a large bowl.

On a floured surface roll into a sausage 5 cm thick, cut into 2 cm slices.

Bring a large saucepan with salt and water to a rolling boil.

Add gnocchi in batches.

When they rise to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl.

Toss in the pesto.

Passatelli en Brodo

1.5 litres meat broth (below)
4 eggs
150 g breadcrumbs 
150 g Parmigiano
50 g  flour  
Black pepper, freshly ground, large pinch
Nutmeg, large pinch
Salt, pinch

Mix breadcrumbs, flour, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper and 100 g of cheese in a large bowl.

Boil the broth in a large saucepan.

Using a potato masher push the passatelli into the broth, cutting it off at ten centimetres as it falls.

Cook for five minutes.

Serve hot sprinkled with remaining cheese.

Italian Meat Broth
2 litres water 
1 kg bones with marrow
1 kg meat
250 g tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, large, chopped
2 carrots, large, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped

Put bones and meat into a large pot filled almost to the top with water, bring to the boil, skim off surface scum.

Add vegetables, bring back to the boil.

Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover and simmer for three hours.

Kepti Varškėčiai

400 g cottage cheese
240 g flour
2 eggs
30 g sugar
Oil, for deep frying

Combine the eggs with the sugar, crumble in the cheese with the flour and salt.

Fold out onto a clean floured surface, roll into a 5 cm thick sausage.

Cut into 2 cm thick pieces.

Deep fry in oil heated to 190°C, until the varškėčiai rise to the surface and are golden brown.

Serve with sour cream.