The inspiration for this recipe comes from Guido, who as you might guess from his name, is Italian. Guido once served me a brilliant bacon and blue cheese gnocchi – so brilliant that I had to go back the next day to have it again. As Guido is not on standby at my house to make this every day, I had to start making it myself. This meal works very well as a substantial starter for a fancy and expansive braai meal, where the mains would be meat served with a side of vegetables or salad. However, it is a delicious recipe, quite rich, and robust enough to stand on its own as a main meal, which is how I usually enjoy it.
For the gnocchi:
- 1 kg (about 6)potatoes (peeled and quartered)
- 1 tsp saltwater
- 1 egg
- 2 cups white bread or cake flour
For the sauce:
- 1 tot butter
- 1 tot olive oil
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 packet(200g) bacon (chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (crushed and chopped)
- 1 cup cream
- 1 block(125g) blue cheese
- 300g white Cheddar cheese
- fresh parsley (chopped, to garnish, optional)
- Peel the potatoes and then quarter them.
- Now cook the peeled potato chunks in salted water until very soft. Essentially, they need to start cracking. Then drain them and mash them very finely with a masher or a fork. Let the mashed potatoes cool down. It doesn’t need to be ice cold – just cooled down completely; cool enough that it doesn’t cook the egg in the next step. We’re talking about a cooling period in the region of half an hour, not half a day. Add the egg to the cooled-down mashed potatoes and stir it in with a fork until everything is mixed.
- Now wash your hands and add one cup of flour, then properly mix it into the mashed potatoes with a clean hand. Next, add the other cup of flour and properly mix that into the mashed potatoes as well.
- Once you have a firm, soft piece of ‘potato dough’, take a ball or chunk of dough at a time and roll it into a sausage shape on a floured cutting board. Basically, each piece should look like pieces of lily-white, thin boerewors.
- Now cut the potato dough sausages into smaller pieces of about 2 cm each and gently roll each piece in flour. You need to coat each piece lightly in flour, otherwise they will all stick to each other.
- Get a pot of water boiling on the fire. We will later use this pot of boiling water to cook the gnocchi.
- Get another sizeable fireproof pan or a potjie on some flames and add the butter, oil, onion and bacon to that. Fry and toss the onion and bacon until you like the look of them and then add the garlic.
- Soon after the garlic starts to brown, move the potjie or pan to an area with slightly less heat and add the cream, blue cheese and Cheddar cheese. Theoretically, you could grate the cheeses but that is actually too much work and just means you have to wash the grater. Simply use the same knife you used to chop the onion and garlic and chop these cheeses into little blocks with that. Use a wooden spoon and stir everything.
- As soon as the cheese is in the pan, add the gnocchi to the boiling pot of water you got going a while ago. The gnocchi will cook very quickly, in about a minute or two. Each individual one will start to float on the surface as soon as it’s ready.
- Scoop the cooked gnocchi into a strainer, and from there into the pan with the sauce, or simply use a slotted spoon and take them straight from the boiling water into the sauce.
- Once all the gnocchi are united with the cheese sauce, gently toss everything so that all the gnocchi is coated with sauce and now let it simmer for a minute or five until you’re happy with the look of it. In other words, until you’ve poured a few glasses of wine.
- Serve garnished with parsley, or simply serve as is.
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