Friday, 7 January 2011

G is for... Gem squash gnocchi in Gorgonzola sauce

We'd been bemoaning the number of gem squashes we'd had in our Able & Cole vegetable boxes in the recent weeks before G night but, of course, by the time G arrived they'd been replaced by some other lettered squashes and were nowhere to be seen. In the end, after what seemed like endless searching around, it was in Fortnum and Mason that I found them and where I picked up a couple of gem squashes at the completely reasonable price of a fiver each. That's right. £5. Each. After my initial shock had subsided, I decided that they must be the best gem squashes available to man and therefore would definitely be worth the expense.

In fact, the gnocchi worked very well, though Richard wasn't convinced he could actually taste the gem squash in them, I - very possibly due to sheer determination alone - was convinced it added an extra richness and the warming flavours of Bonfire Night to the dish. The gem is a subtle squash in flavour, so it may well have been drowned out a little by the Gorgonzola sauce, but I genuinely feel that you would have noticed the difference if the gnocchi had been made with potato alone. Definitely. Or, almost certainly, at the very least. 

I wouldn't advise making the gnocchi with all gem squash as they are far too wet and would require too much flour for them to be able to remain light and fluffy. And nobody wants heavy gnocchi - especially as part of an eight course feast. If you want to make all potato gnocchi just increase the weight of potatoes and leave out the squash.

Gem squash gnocchi

Preheat the oven to 200 C (180 C Fan)

1 and 1/2 gem squashes (roughly half a kilo in weight)
1lb/ 500 g floury potatoes - such as Desiree, King Edwards or Maris Pipers.
3 1/2 oz/ 85 g "00" flour
1 small egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 oz/ 50 g butter

Bake the potatoes and gem squashes in the oven for about an hour to an hour and a half, until tender. Cut the spuds and squashes in half to allow the steam to escape and then spoon out the flesh. Push the scooped out flesh through a sieve into a bowl and leave to cool slightly. Add the flour, salt and pepper, mixing them together with a butter knife to avoid overworking the flour and making the gnocchi doughy. Finally, add the beaten egg and mix until you have a ball of dough - you may not need to use all the egg. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

Cut the potato dough in half, sprinkle the table or work surface (if your's is big enough) with flour and  roll the dough into two long sausages. Cut each sausage into 32 pieces - so you end up with 64 gnocchi dumplings - so each guest should get 8 small gnocchi each. Press the back of a fork lightly into each dumpling to make the traditional line marks on them and drop them into a saucepan of boiling, salty water in batches. Once the gnocchi rise to the surface, they are done, so scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of cold water and drain. Next, coat a large tupperware tub with olive oil and place the cold gnocchi in the tub, tossing them in oil, pop the lid on and stick them in the fridge until needed.

Once you're ready to serve your gnocchi, heat the butter in a large, non-stick frying pan, add the gnocchi and cook until golden brown on both sides.

Gorgonzola sauce

Simply heat some guinea fowl (or chicken or vegetable) stock in a saucepan, add crumbled Gorgonzola and stir until melted. Add a generous glug of cream and warm through. Check for seasoning and add the gnocchi, ensuring that it is all evenly coated and serve.    

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