Gnocchi has a reputation for being one of those finicky, labor-intensive dishes we'd rather leave to the professionals than attempt making ourselves. That’s precisely why Jenn Louis of Portland restaurant Lincoln made dumplings the subject of her next cooking class. In her new 101 series, the chef shares professional tips on subjects as diverse as pie dough and chicken butchery. Her class on gnocchetti (little gnocchi) will reveal that the best dumplings require fresh ricotta and proper attention to cooking time. Remove the gnocchetti from the water the moment they float and you’ll have tender, pillowy dumplings you’ll be proud to call your own.
Ricotta Gnocchetti with Tomato-Butter Sauce
Recipe adapted from Jenn Louis, Lincoln, Portland, OR
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the baking sheet
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for garnish
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Freshly ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ yellow onion, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 small rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1. Make the gnocchetti: Sprinkle a large baking sheet generously with flour and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg, butter and a pinch of nutmeg until combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined. (The dough should be slightly sticky and wet.)
2. Working with about ¼ cup portion of the dough on a lightly floured work surface, gently roll the dough into a log about ¼ inch in diameter. Cut the log crosswise into ½-inch pieces and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the gnocchetti loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.
3. Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf and red-pepper flakes to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and lightly brown, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and butter and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 hour. Season with salt. Pour the sauce through a mesh strainer and discard the vegetables and herbs. Transfer the sauce to a large skillet and keep warm over low heat.
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, cook the gnocchetti until they float, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchetti to the skillet with the sauce. When all the gnocchetti are done, gently warm them in the sauce.
6. Divide the gnocchetti among 4 or 6 plates. Garnish with additional cheese and serve immediately.
It's the details that count! Try these tips
Love making ricotta gnocchi by hand? Try this recipe, which uses mushrooms and marjoram.
Read Food & Wine magazine’s recent profile of Jenn Louis, whom it also names as one of 2012’s Best New Chefs.