Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 192! Vatican City - Potato Gnocchi with Roman Gravy - Up Next, Venezuala

Today was the first day in several weeks that I've had a big enough block of time to dig into cooking a meal from the Vatican City. Delving into recipe ideas, I came across several for potato gnocchi with Roman gravy. Never having made gnocchi, I decided to give this a try, and boy was I glad. The recipe was easy, fun to make and the gravy was absolutely delicious. I used a small top round roast which I ground in my food processor. The result was a gravy with wonderful flavor and texture. My husband came home from work and promptly scoffed down an entire bowl - which I will just call dinner. If you've never tried making these and have kids, it makes a great family cooking project. If you don't have sweet little ones underfoot, make them for the fun of it and throw down a big old bowl along with a glass of hearty chianti classico. Ciao!

Established in 1929 by the signing of the Lateran Treaty, the Vatican City is a landlocked, sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. The Vatican City is also the smallest independent state in the world in both area and population. An ecclesiastical or sacerdotal  monarchical state, it is ruled by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, who also holds judicial power as well as principal legislative and executive power. Owing to its mild, Mediterranean climate, the Vatican Gardens (which cover more than half of the territory), are an impressive and beautiful tourist attraction with rich historic and botanical value. Initially planted during the Renaissance and Baroque era, the gardens are also enhanced by magnificent fountains and statues. Some of the most famous and magnificent art work is also housed within these ancient walls.

Roman cuisine is generally simple, relying on seasonal availability. Peas, artichokes, and fava beans are staple vegetables and lamb and goat are commonly eaten meat. Pecorino Romano and ricotta as well as strutto (pork lard) and prosciutto are enjoyed. Olive oil is used as well, but mostly for cooking and frying. Pasta and meat sauces are naturally enjoyed in homes and in restaurants through out the city. This is some of my personal favorite kind of eating.

I used starchy russet potatoes
 Peel and boil in salted water
 Mash through a sieve for best results 
 Add beaten eggs
 Add flour
 Blend until mixture is smooth, but not mushy
 Roll out into finger width strips (size of strip and pieces depends on your preference)
 Roll each piece down the back of a fork - then cook in boiling salted water
Roman Gravy: Top round beef, carrots, onion, celery and parsley
 Grind beef in food processor
 Fry vegetables, add meat, tomatoes and wine, then simmer until thick but not dry
 Ground peeled tomatoes
 Serve with gravy and pecorino cheese

Potato Gnocchi

3 large russet potatoes
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
sea salt

Peel potatoes and boil in salted water until soft. Reserve potato water.
While potatoes are still warm, mash through a sieve. Mix in eggs, flour and salt until mixture is soft.
On a floured board, roll potato mash into long, finger-thick strips and cut into 1" pieces (or bigger if you like).
Using the back of a fork, roll each gnocchi down the back of the fork to make a grooved imprint on each one (this apparently catches the gravy better)
Bring the pot of salted potato water back to a boil, then add gnocchi and let them cook until they rise to the surface.
Once they've risen, let them cook another 15 seconds, then remove and drain.
Serve with lots of gravy and grated pecorino cheese.

Roman Gravy (Adapted from aboutroma.com)

1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 handful of parsley, chopped
1 pound top round beef
1 16 ounce can ground peeled tomatoes
1 glass red wine

Season meat with salt and pepper, cut into chunks then pulse in a food processor until ground but still with plenty of texture.
Heat olive oil in a heavy pot and fry onion, carrot, celery and parsley.
When browned, add beef and fry, then add red wine and tomatoes.
Simmer until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened.

© 2010-2012, What's Cooking in Your World? Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved


Young Werther said...

Generally love Italian food, all stuff pasta, but unfortunately pizza and gnocchi, just not my cuppa. Maybe I've never had a great pizza nor gnocchi...


sadie said...

Funny, I'd always thought of gnocchi as somewhat dull and heavy - but these were really good. Possibly because of the sauce that added wonderful texture to the dish. Still, a small bowl or plate is all that's needed. As for pizza....it's got to be a really thin crust, and very good cheese :)