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Orlando chef Hari Pulapaka talks about difference between gnocchi and gnudi

When I was in culinary school, we were taught how to make a seemingly traditional potato-based gnocchi. I thought I followed the recipe to the tee, but the outcome was uninspired, to say the least. Mind you, from an early age, I was used to handling dough while making chappatis and puris in our family kitchen in Mumbai, India. At the time I wasn't particularly impressed with gnocchi, which are Italian dumplings. Fast-forward about 12 years, and after making numerous versions of gnocchi, and gnudi, I'm a convert.

So, what's the difference between gnocchi and gnudi? Here's how I think of them:

Gnocchi: A pastalike dumpling containing potato, eggs, flour, olive oil and sometimes cheese.

Gnocchi Parisienne: A softer dumpling containing ricotta or other soft cheese, plus flour, eggs, butter, water, sometimes cheese, sometimes Dijon mustard, sometimes fresh herbs.

Gnudi: This is the Italian version of Gnocchi Parisienne, inspired by the filling in a ravioli without the wrapper. A "nude ravioli," as it were. Gnudi is a pillowy dumpling containing ricotta, egg yolks (optional), cheese and just enough (semolina) flour to hold the dumpling together when poached.

Recently, I developed this recipe for gnudi to serve as a course at a Beard House dinner. I have cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City on multiple (five, if one is counting) occasions, and this most recent one was in April. We were invited to showcase the globally inspired flavors of Cress Restaurant. The sold-out dinner featured sustainable seafood (lionfish, stone crab, by-catch octopus), punchy street food-inspired dishes, and elevated fusion cuisine with nontraditional flavor combinations. The courses were paired with wines and cocktails by Cress' sommelier and general manager, my wife Jenneffer Pulapaka.

This recipe shows that classical flavors can be timeless. Traditionally, gnudi would be made with ricotta cheese, but for me, the concept is a canvas. In using Gorgonzola, I am paying homage to Northern Italian cuisine. Ravioli filled with Gorgonzola, nutmeg and dressed with a sage-infused brown butter garnished with walnuts is a classic dish, and I've simply revealed it in the spirit of gnudi.

Hari Pulapaka is a math professor at Stetson University and the James Beard-nominated chef and co-owner of the award-winning Cress Restaurant in DeLand.

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Tips for making gnudi

• Drain the ricotta really well for at least two hours before you're going to use it, and pat it dry with paper towels to soak up any excess moisture. This will ensure that you don't have to use excess semolina flour to make the gnudi. An excess of flour inhibits the characteristic and desired "light as a cloud" texture.

• Form the gnudi with a small ice cream scoop, then roll lightly in the flour.

• Refrigerate the formed gnudi for at least 30 minutes before poaching in seasoned simmering water.

• When ready to eat, consume an entire gnudi at one time, without cutting it.

>>MODERATE

Gorgonzola Gnudi With Sage-Infused Brown Butter and Walnuts

½ cup chopped walnuts

10 ounces ricotta cheese, completely drained (see tip in box)

6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, drained

2 egg yolks

Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Fresh coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Semolina flour, as needed

Water, for poaching

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

½ stick unsalted butter

10 sage leaves with stems

Toast the walnuts in a dry pan and set aside. Drain the ricotta for at least 2 hours until it is devoid of perceived moisture. Whip the drained ricotta and Gorgonzola in a bowl or food processor. Add the egg yolks and mix. Season the mixture lightly with salt and pepper, as needed.

Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered for an hour.

Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, drop chilled scoops into a bowl of semolina flour and roll lightly into balls using the palm of your hand. Place them on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Carefully drop the chilled gnudi into a pot of salted simmering water. Wait 1 minute after the gnudi have floated to the top before scooping them out and draining on a sheet tray coated with extra-virgin olive oil.

Melt the butter in a nonstick pan until it starts to brown, then add the sage leaves and fry for a minute on medium heat. Add the poached gnudi and brown lightly and uniformly. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate gnudi, then pour remaining brown butter and sage on top. Garnish with walnuts.

Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Source: Hari Pulapaka

Orlando chef Hari Pulapaka talks about difference between gnocchi and gnudi 06/27/16 [Last modified: Monday, June 27, 2016 12:13pm]
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