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GNOCCHI DI SEMOLA (Semolina Flour Gnocchi)

Yield: 4 as main course; 6-8 as starter

Comment: I was shocked to watch Irene make these ancient gnocchi on my first Sunday in Bra; until that moment I had only known gnocchi to be a potato-based dish. In keeping with the dish’s Roman roots, Irene makes her from coarsely ground semolina flour, hot milk, and eggs. To form the gnocchi, a rich polenta-like pasta is prepared, cooled, and then cut into disks using the wet rim of a small glass. The disks are then sprinkled with Parmesan and breadcrumbs, and baked in a hot oven to puff them up.

1 Qt milk
2-3 tsp salt
7 oz semolina flour (just over 1 cup)
1 Cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tab butter
½ Cup breadcrumbs

Process: Heat the milk and salt in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. When the milk starts to simmer, slowly sprinkle in the semolina flour, whisking consistently to make sure that lumps do not form. Once all the flour has been added, reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to whisk for 7 to 10 more minutes, until the batter has become thick and velvety.
            Remove the pan from the heat and stir in ½ cup of the Parmesan, the eggs, and the butter. Pour the batter into a large, shallow baking dish, spreading it out to make a layer of even thickness (roughly ½ an inch high). Set aside (in the fridge of there is room) for about an hour, to cool and become firm.
            Cut the semolina into gnocchi using the mouth of a glass about 2 inches wide, or a cookie cutter. Dip the glass into water between each press to prevent the dough from sticking. Lay the gnocchi on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, making sure to leave at least ½ inch between them so that their edges can completely caramelize. 
            Sprinkle the tops of the gnocchi with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan and the bread crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees F until golden brown, slightly puffed, and crispy around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes.

This recipe is provided with the permission of Jessica Theroux from her cookbook, Cooking with Italian Grandmothers.








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