Saturday, May 5, 2018

Gnocchi alla Romana

Gnocchi all Romana

About the Recipe
I made this dish as part of a food challenge to find and make an historic recipe with a “foreign” bent. The dish could either have a loose connection to foreign lands, be named after a faraway place, or be attributed to foreigners. Basically, the challenge was meant to investigate how one culture interprets the cuisine of another culture. I chose to make Gnocchi alla Romana, an "Italian" recipe found in a very American cookbook, Foods of the Foreign Born in Relation to Health by Bertha M. Wood, Boston: 1922. I am an Italian-American, so this was a good fit for me.

I altered the recipe a bit to make sure it would work; some of the directions were missing and some of the ingredients were not quite right. First, there were no directions for how to cook the polenta. Luckily, I regularly made polenta for my Italian grandmother, Vincenza Ginaguzzi, so I had a good idea of how to handle cooking it. Second, the original recipe calls for using a whole egg, as opposed to using just an egg yolk. This made the polenta too thin, so I altered the recipe to just using one egg yolk. 

My Interpretation of Gnocchi alla Romana

  • 1 Pint Milk, or Half Milk/Half Water
  • Salt to Taste
  • 1/2 Cup Farina (Cream of Wheat) or Polenta (cornmeal)
  • 8 Tablespoons Butter, Divided
  • 1 1/4 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano, Divided
  • 1 Egg Yolk, Slightly Beaten

  1. Let the milk come to a boil. Add the salt.
  2. Gradually add the farina or polenta, stirring briskly and constantly so that no lumps can form. Cook on low for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove from the fie and add 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1/4 cup of the grated cheese. Then add the egg and mix well.
  4. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on your work surface. Pour out the polenta onto the paper and spread to out until it is about three-quarters inch thick. 
  5. While the polenta is cooling ad firming up, heat the oven to 425ยบ F and butter a gratin dish and set aside.
  6. When the polenta is firm, cut it into squares or diamonds.
  7. In the gratin dish, put a layer of the polenta pieces. Sprinkle with some of the remaining cheese and dot with some of the remaining butter. Make another layer, and so on, until the dish is filled. 
  8. Bake for 12 minutes and then broil for an additional 3 minutes.

Cooking the Polenta and Adding the Cheese

Cooling the Polenta

Uncooked Gratin