Sometimes ya just gotta chow down on carbs and drink a bottle of good red wine all to your damn fine self. And by good red wine, I mean boxed red wine. No I don’t; I mean good red wine. Because let’s face it – if I’m going to go to the effort to make a dish as slaptastic amazing as homemade beet gnocchi, I want the best wine my self-employed, starving artist, creative closet-hippie self can afford. Which was around 20 bucks.
Speaking of the best that you can afford, I’m kind of obsessed with KitchenAid Stand Mixers right now. Don’t worry, this is related. Wait for it… (And they aren’t sponsoring me to say that….Yet.)
Seriously. I see one on TV, pass one in a store or glimpse one in a magazine – I feel a longing in my loins. I need it. A mint green one. And I don’t even bake that much. But it’s become a weird obsession of mine that just needs to be satisfied. And of course, I want the standard mix attachment but also the meat grinder so I can grind my own beef or bison for burgers, or make my own sausage. I also want the ice cream maker attachment so I can create insane flavors like caramel Brûlé and rustic blackberry and dark chocolate. And the ravioli maker and vegetable grinder and grain mill attachments.
Yes. I am obsessed. But one thing that I won’t use it for? Kneading dough.
I talked about this briefly then I made Super Soft Homemade Bread a few weeks ago, but to stress the point: There is something so fundamentally visceral and potently physical about kneading dough. When I knead dough, I feel connected to history. Connected to my food. And ultimately, to the connections within the food system. Somebody, at some point, planted those beet and wheat seeds. They harvested them. Milled them (though likely not on their KitchenAid grain miller). You get the idea … It’s so intimate and so organic in its process – I love it.
I love being able to tell when a dough is too wet or too dry. When the stretch is just right. When it needs more kneading or when I’ve kneaded it too much. I love the smell of yeast. I love knowing that when cleaning up I need to wipe down the counter with cold water before hot so as to not activate the starches in the flour and thereby avoid making a big gloopy mess. I love working with my hands and the feel of the dough in my fingers. I love the arm work out. I love negating that work out by drinking half my wine whilst preparing the dough.
I. love. kneading. dough.
So while I may cry and stomp and plead for a mint green KitchenAid mixer, I want it for every other reason than kneading dough. Know anyone who’s looking for someone to take one off their hands?
Pair this beet gnocchi with Balsamic Slow-Braised Grass-Fed Short Ribs and fresh chevre. Allow the braising liquid to reduce in a pan, finish with a glob of butter and a handful of crisp arugula and you’ve got yourself one insanely good quick demi glace to sauce it all off with. You know you wanna.
- 2 Lb (600 g) Floury Potatoes (i.e. Russets).
- 3 Small to Medium Sized Beets.
- 300 g + 200 g White All-Purpose Flour.
- 1 Free-Rage, Organic Egg Yolk.
- 1 Tsp Nutmeg.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
- Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
- Fresh Chevre, to serve.
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Wash and dry the potatoes and beets thoroughly. Poke a few holes in the potatoes skin with a fork to release the heat while they’re cooking (or they may burst in your oven – messy!), rub with some olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Place the beets in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt pepper. Shake to coat. Cover. Bake both in the oven for about an hour or until fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool about 4 minutes or until you can handle them.
- While those are cooking, mix together 300g of flour, the nutmeg, and some salt and pepper to taste.
- Now, peel the beets and place in a food processor. Process until pureed. Set aside.
- Grab an oven mitt and cut the potatoes in half. Scoop out the hot potato into a bowl and discard skins (eat these as you cook - yum!).
- Smash potatoes with a fork to eliminate lumps. Be gentle and work quickly – you want these little guys to be fluffy and hot, not pulverized and cold.
- Add the egg yolk to the potatoes and work through, followed by the warm beet puree.
- Once incorporated, add the flour mixture and gently mix in with your hands.
- Once it starts to hold together and look more like dough, generously flour your work surface, remove from the bowl, and knead the entire bit for about 3 – 4 minutes. Depending on the moisture content of your beets, you may or may not need to add more flour. You should be able to knead it without it sticking too badly to your fingers, though it will be more moist/sticky than normal gnocchi. Try not to add too much though or you will end up with heavy gnocchi.
- * To knead, use your palms to push down on the mixture, spreading it on the counter, fold over toward you, and turn 1/4 of a turn. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
- Once your kneading is done, break off a big handful of the stuff and roll out like a rope on the floured counter to about 3/4″ thick.
- Slice all the way down the rope into 1 inch pieces.
- Traditional gnocchi has little grooves in the top. You can do this with a fork but I never bother.
- Place “pillows” on a floured piece of parchment paper, cover with a towel and set aside until ready to cook.
- When you’re ready to cook them, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in 10 to 12 gnocchi at a time and let cook for about 2 minutes. They will pop to the top of the water when they are done. Remove with a slotted spoon and place them in a shallow glass bowl or plate until all the gnocchi are done.
- At this point you can chuck some butter in a pan, melt, brown slightly and add the gnocchi. Coat. Dish up and top with fresh chevre. OR, if you made the braised short ribs, ladle 2 cups of the sauce into a pan, bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce by half and then stir in a tbsp or two of butter. Season if needed and toss with the gnocchi. Dish up and top with fresh Chevre.
Do you have a KitchenAid fixation? What tool can you NOT live without in the kitchen? Do you make your own gnocchi or pasta? Share below!