To egg or not is the question good cooks ignore when making perfect potato dumplings (gnocchi in Italy). 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 Veneta 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! A recipe for gnocchi is in the potato section.
500 g Agata / Agria / Bintje potatoes, cubed small, blended to a purée 300 g bryndza cheese, grated 250 g Oravská údená slanina / smoked bacon, cubed 200 ml smetana / sour cream 100 g white wheat flour, t550 1 egg Salt, large pinch
In a large bowl work puréed potatoes, egg, flour and salt into a paste. Ideally you need an halušky pan, but anything with with round holes about 1 cm in diameter will do the job. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, push the paste through the holes, cook until the small dumplings rise to the surface, about eight minutes. Drain, retaining 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 sauce. Fry the bacon until the fat runs, drain the fat and crisp bacon for three minutes, turning constantly. Arrange the halušky in a separate bowl, cover with cheese sauce, top with the bacon. Serve with cream.
INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS = Agata Potato | Agria Potato | Bintje Potato | Bryndza Cheese | Smoked Bacon | Soft Wheat
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