River Cottage- Blog 2, Cheesy Gnocchi with Cider Cream Sauce!

Following on from my blog yesterday, I will be writing about another dish that we made- gnocchi.

When I saw baked potatoes on Connor’s work counter I must admit I automatically got quite nervous. How do you explain to a chef that you don’t like potato???? However, as he went onto describe our next course, I felt a sense of relief. The dish was homemade cheesy gnocchi with bacon and leek cider cream sauce. It sounds amazing, and it was.

Bacon and cheese!

One of the best things about the benches we cooked on was the steel top, which allowed us to make food straight on the worktop, which is how we created our gnocchi. I started by squeezing the warm baked potato out of its crispy skin and lightly breaking it apart with a dough scraper (an amazing utensil I will definitely be purchasing).

I next created a small well within the potato and broke in one egg. On top of the egg I added my cheese. To my delight there were two types of cheese, a hard goats cheese and a strong cheddar. We were told we could use which cheese we preferred, or even both, needless to say I chose both.

Once the cheese was piled high onto my potato, I used the dough scraper to break up the ingredients. Lastly, to combine the potato, egg and cheese we were told to add two large handfuls of flour- I added one extra as my handful is quite small.

Sprinkling the worktop lightly with some extra flour we rolled the gnocchi mixture into a long, even sausage shape. Once this was the perfect width I used my trusted dough scraper to evenly slice the gnocchi sausage into little pillow shapes. Fluffy pillows of cheesy goodness.

Gnocchi Parcels!

I was still quite dubious at this point as to whether these homemade gnocchi would taste very potatoey, as I find the ones from the supermarket taste a lot more dense, like pasta, therefore avoiding that potato texture I avoid like the plague.

Once my gnocchi pieces were ready to be blanched, I moved them aside and started on the sauce.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_1291.jpgUsing my new found knife skills I began thinly slicing 1/2 a leek. This took me quite a long time as I was terrified the massive knife we were using was going to slice my fingertips off. Anyway, there were no added fingertips in my sauce so it was all good!

Connor had freshly cut us all some bacon lardons from one of the pigs they keep on the farm. The fat content was very high in the lardons, which gave the sauce a deep rich flavour. The bacon was panfried on a high heat in a drizzle of oil. We didn’t need to add extra oil due to the natural fat from the pig.

To the lardons the perfectly sliced leeks were added, a long with a glug of Sheppy Cider. I did try the cider separately from the sauce, and it was very heavy and strong, but after it had reduced in the sauce it tasted great.

The final step of the sauce was to add the cream. Off the heat I poured in around 2 tbsp of double cream.

I must say, if I have learnt anything from this course it is that chefs LOVE double cream, whole milk and butter; adding luxury (and a lot of calories) to every meal. It ends up tasting great, I just wish it wasn’t all going to my waistline!

Anyway, the cream was added, and I put the pan back onto a very low heat, keeping everything bubbling.

Back to the gnocchi… The beauty of gnocchi is that it takes such little time to cook, you just place the pieces into lightly salted boiling water, with a little bit of oil, and wait for them to float to the top. In this case, my gnocchi took around 1 minute to cook.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1296After draining the pillows from the water with a slotted spoon I incorporated them into the creamy sauce, ensuring the salty bacon lardons and soft leeks were spread evenly.

I plated up a generous amount of gnocchi and added even more cheese, I had come this far so why not push the boat out further?!

The gnocchi was soft, and although slightly potatoey, I could manage it- I am such a trouper. I didn’t however manage to finish my portion, but this meant I could take some home for leftovers- yum yum.

Gnocchi from scratch… completed it!

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