For all those who find potato gnocchi too heavy, and let’s face it they really can be, choux gnocchi are the perfect solution. These little pillows of flavor go great with roasted meats. They also make an excellent course on their own tossed together with split cherry tomatoes or roasted root vegetables. That of course is just the beginning of the utility of choux gnocchi, just use your imagination. Because they freeze so well, they make a great last-minute addition to virtually menu regardless of the season. If you can stir and simmer you can make them easily.
Start by mixing up a batch of choux batter. To that add about half a cup of grated cheese. These gratings are very fine (I used a microplane grater) so I’m adding closer to a cup. Just about any kind of hard or semi-firm cheese is nice here. This is parmesan but gruyère, comté, emmentaler, cheddar or manchego also work really well.
You know what else is great in these? Herbs. I’m serving these to the little ones tonight and they worry about little anonymous green flecks. But if these were just for Mrs. Pastry and me, I’d add about three tablespoons of mixed herbs: parsley and chives for sure, but maybe also dill, tarragon, chervil, basil, fennel or thyme. Whatever matches your meal, knowadimean? A tablespoon or so of dry mustard added to all that wouldn’t hurt either.
So, once that’s all done and loaded into a pastry bag with only a collar, bring a medium pan of water to the boil. As with pasta water, this should be amply salted. You want it to taste like sea water. You’ll start to worry when you get up to a quarter cup or more depending on the size of the pot, but just remember that almost all the salt will stay in the water. The gnocchi will take up just enough to season them.
When the water starts to simmer, prepare an ice bath. You’ll immerse the boiled gnocchi in here to stop the cooking when they’re done.
So then, extrude about 3/4 of an inch of batter from the bag, then lop it off with a sharp knife and let it fall into the water. Watch out for splashing…hold the bag and knife low over the edge of the pot to discourage it. You’ll get a little steamy, but that’s better than getting splattered. Drop in about two dozen per batch.
When they’re all in, set the timer for three minutes. The gnocchi will sink at first, then float and puff a bit.
Remove them with a spider or slotted spoon…
…and plop them in the ice bath.
Don’t let them soak in there for too long. They’re completely cooled once they sink.
At that point transfer them to a paper towel-covered baking sheet. Pat them dry as opportunities present themselves. You’ll get the hang of having a batch cooking, one cooling and one drying all at once.
So then. At this point you can hold them covered in the fridge for a full day. Or you can freeze them if you like. Put the whole sheet in the freezer for a few hours, then pour the frozen gnocchi into bags of whatever size you like. They’ll keep for two or three months. Thaw them by pouring them out on a sheet and letting them sit at room temperature for an hour or so.
So, for final the final prep step you have a couple of options. You can sauté them in a little butter (great if you want to toss in some fresh or roasted veggies just before plating), or you can bake them, which is easier if you already have something baking in the oven. They’ll bake up well at temperatures between 350 and 425. Lay them out in a single layer in either a single large dish or several small ones (as long as they’re oven-proof of course). Bake them until they puff, 15-25 minutes depending on the heat.
When they’re puffed and lightly browned, pull them out and sprinkle on a little more cheese.
Turn the broiler on and give them a last little toast before serving…just a minute or two.
Mrs. Pastry is particularly partial to these. Oh man…where’s a glass of dry Kabinett Riesling when you really need one?