Award winning gnocchi recipe

April 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A six-year-old chef makes award winning stuffed gnocchi with grandma!

Make gnocchi tonight for dinner! Six-year-old Chef Stefano from Walnut Creek, joined by his grandmother Lucia Falcone, teach us how to make this award winning recipe.

Recipe: Gnocchi filled with chicken and prosciutto

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • Salt
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, diced
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 4 slices mortadella
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2-2 cups flour

1. Peel the potatoes, wash and cut them into medium squares. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. While potatoes are boiling, prepare the filling.

2. In a food processor, pulse the chicken, prosciutto, mortadella, parsley and nutmeg into a rough paste. Transfer to a bowl and roll the filling into small balls to insert into the gnocchi.

3. Drain the potatoes well and press them through a ricer or mash very well. Add salt and 11?2 cups flour and lightly knead to make a light dough. If needed, add a little more flour. Roll the dough into long snakes approximately 1 inch in diameter. Cut into 1-inch pieces. With your finger, press a hole in the side or top. Place a ball of filling into hole, then seal the hole and shape into a ball.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large Pyrex baking pan or lipped heavy cookie sheet. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Drop gnocchi into the boiling water and cook until they come to the surface. Gently lift gnocchi out of the water and allow to drain for a few seconds. Transfer cooked gnocchi to baking pan in a single layer. Pour the melted butter on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden and crispy on top. Serve immediately.

La Storia di Zia Emma's Gnocchi Ripieni con Pollo e Prosciutto

My great grandfather Nico, from Murano, Italy, loved to invite people over to his house for dinner. With 6 children and his wife already seated around the table, it seems there might not have been room for anyone else. And yet there was - friends, relatives, strangers he had met walking home from his work at the glass factory - all were welcome "a tavola da Nico." Their lives were simple, but there was always much to celebrate and enjoy around the table each day.

My Nonna Lucia, Nico's daughter, taught me how to make Gnocchi when I was not quite two years old. It's my Great Aunt Emma's recipe. As we roll the dough into "little snakes" and cut it into gnocchi, she tells me stories about our family in Murano, Italy. And we decided that like Nonno Nico, we always want the table to be a place for people to gather. We set the table with a tablecloth and we call up friends and neighbors to come and enjoy food with us. People are always so surprised and happy when we invite them over for a special feast or "tea party" around the kitchen table.

About Stefano Padoan, Age: 6

Family hails from Murano, Italy. (Stefano's father and both his grandmothers and one grandfather were born and raised there). He has been to Murano three times and is going there for the fourth time this summer.

Special memories about cooking with Nonna Lucia:

Began cooking when he was about 17 months old. Nonna would babysit him and his younger sisters during the day and he would always watch her cook a big lunch for everyone. When he was 17 or 18 months old, he started to learn to help. His first dish was homemade gnocchi. The first time he made gnocchi for all of us, we put them in the freezer and he spent the entire day opening up the freezer door to look at them.

One of his favorite cooking memories is participating in the cooking contest for Pasta Pomodoro restaurants. He and his nonna won first prize in the East Bay Regional Finals last month. Chef Adriano Paganini, the owner of the restaurant chose his dish as the winner for the East Bay and even sent him a chef's coat with his name embroidered on it. He tells people about his new friend, Chef Adriano and about Adriano's son Marcello, who is Stefano's age and also wears a chef's coat.

The secret to good cooking is high quality ingredients from Italy. Stefano sometimes throws in ingredients his nonna doesn't expect while cooking, like extra pepper or nutmeg. When they were making his gnocchi for the contest, he even shaped some gnocchi dough into a "battleship" and ate it for lunch that day.

He is very social and loves to invite neighbors and friends over for tea. He and his two younger sisters set the table with a tablecloth and put out the nice china and call up friends or neighbors to come over and enjoy tea and cookies, or appetizers.

Loves to cook with his sisters (ages 2 and 4) - they can make a mean omelette, several different pasta dishes (homemade pasta), meatballs, cookies, and whatever else is being made that day.

Since he was old enough to talk, he has always said he wanted to be a garbage man or a fireman. Now he talks about being a chef too!

About Lucia Falcone

Born and raised in Murano, Italy. Murano is an island located near Venice, Italy and is famous for its tradition of hand blown glass. She comes from a large family of six brothers and sisters.

Her father always loved to have a house full of people and each meal found friends, relatives and strangers alike seated around their family's kitchen table.

She married an Italian American man when she was 19 and moved to America with him. She has been here ever since. She has three daughters and three grandchildren.

Having grown up with a gregarious father who was always inviting people over to share their meals, she came to America and did the same - invited over everyone she knew. Her husband Robert was very surprised the evening she invited the pizza delivery guy in to sit down at the table and share the pizza he had just delivered with the family.

She has prepared meals for hundreds of dinner parties and loves to cook with her grandchildren. She teaches cooking classes for the Emeritus College of Diablo Valley College and also teaches an "Italian for Travelers" class.

Has written a book about growing up in Murano, Italy called "Over Bridges, Across Tables."

Began to cook with Stefano because he was interested in what she was doing and she wanted to find a way to "keep him busy" during the day.


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