January 3, 2013

A note on Gnocchi di Semolina

Not sure why but I hadn’t made gnocchi di semolina in a long, long time. I served it for a primo  on Christmas night. Just for the luxury, I served the golden discs on either side of a ramekin of garlic flan. Semolina is simply hard wheat flour and I prefer a medium-coarse grind, though here in the USA I could find only a fine grind, and it was fine. I’m not sure why it’s even called gnocchi but it is.  Semolina gnocchi was one of the first primi that I fell in love with when I first went to Italy.  A woman named Fernanda made it for the grocery store in Camucia and I was at the counter every time it was expected. I assumed it was difficult because it was so incredible rich, but the truth came out–it is so easy!  Therefore, it’s a good choice for these after-holidays weeks when maybe you’ve seen too much of your kitchen. Bring 6 cups of milk almost to a boil, then steady the heat and slowly incorporate 2 cups of semolina. You just stir it awhile, as you would polenta, maybe for 7-10 minutes.  Remove it from the flame and stir in 3-4 tablespoons of butter, 3 beaten yolks, and then 1/2 cup of parmigiano. Mix well, season with salt, pepper, and grind or two of nutmeg, and pour it on a slab, or the counter, and flatten it out. With a glass, cut out circles and arrange them in a large buttered baking dish, sprinkle with more parmigiano–maybe 1/4 to 1/3 cup– and 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees until golden and crispy. About 20 minutes. With a salad and a big glass of Friulian white wine, such as one from Venica & Venica, this makes a cosy supper by the fire. I love the leftovers, reheated the next day.  Easy, simple, rich.

The recipe makes about 33 circles. There’s a finished photo on page 92 of The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. I forgot, in my rush to the table, to take one when I served this last week. The garlic flan I mentioned , also easy, is on page 158. Do not fear the garlic; blanching it tames the fierceness. The flan makes a magnificent first course for a dinner involving roasted meats. When I made it recently, guests started spreading it on the bruschette I made with our new olive oil. That was a treat for the gods.  All good wishes for 2013. It looks like a grand year coming up.