When Britta, my cousin, comes to town there is always a fun time to be had. She is one of the biggest influences in my life, a cheerleader for my success and a mentor. Growing up together she was like a sister; now she's a best friend. Britta is also the owner of Private Palate which she started herself about 9 years ago. She is a brilliant business woman with passion and drive for days. It has been such a privilege to see how much Private Palate has grown, now expanding into 4 different states (soon to be 5!). Over the past 8 years I have worked with/for Britta helping her cater events and shooting food and portraits for her and her business. 3 years ago, after graduating from college, I joined the team as a personal chef. It has been awesome working for Private Palate. I get to cook and shoot food everyday while expanding on my style as a chef and photographer. Its not a job, its a lifestyle.
Okay, okay, enough about us and more about GNOCCHI!
For today, we wanted to test the gnocchi recipes of Mario Batali and Andrew Carmellini. -Before tonight, Britta and I both felt the same way about gnocchi; Always enjoyable but never order-able (that's a word... right?). But, according to Andrew Carmellini, most people are doing it all wrong (even the Italians). Done right, gnocchi makes you say things like this...
Well, you can't argue with passion like that! So, Britta and I had to see what the fuss was all about. It was Batali's recipe vs Carmellini's. We started with Batali whose recipe was pretty straight forward; potatoes, egg, salt and flour - mix, roll, cut, pop, boil and finish in an ice bath. Carmellini upped the ante by adding grated parmigiano-reggiano, olive oil AND melted butter to his dough. While Batali's used the method of boiling the potatoes, Carmellini baked his.
We prepared Batali's gnocchi by frying in butter with sage and finishing with parmigiano-reggiano. OH! my gosh, people! This is why fresh is always better. I can still taste the romantic little morsels in my mouth as I envision myself eating them on top of the Ponte Vecchio, the sun setting, while a handsome Italian man whispers in my ear. *sigh*
Britta and I got so carried away with eating and photographing the first batch that when it came time to try Carmellini's method, his baked potatoes had cooled down and dried out a bit (every recipe we read and every method we watched on YouTube emphasised the point that you should rice and mixed the gnocchi dough while still warm, Ooops!). We went ahead and made them anyways. There was a difference in texture; the cold and dried potato dumpling produced a bit more grit to its bite than the first, but its hard to say why or if this was even worth metioning. Even still, better than any gnocchi I had had in the past.
If we are being fair, we can't exactly claim a winner in this competition. And I don't know If I would have been able to had we done everything correctly. I am still trying to get past the fact that I have been duped for so many year, thinking gnocchi were only sub-par compared to their cousin, pasta.
If you have the work space and don't mind getting a little messy I extremely urge you to try making gnocchi yourself at home. It is so easy and the results really will make you question why restaurants serve these little pillows of happiness any other way.
Try either recipe yourself and let me know what you think!
Peace, Love & Gnocchi,