Monday, February 24, 2014

Baked Potato Gnocchi in a Cheddar Cheese Sauce with Bacon and Broccoli



It's leftover week at our house. This usually occurs once a month when I search through the fridge and find these little bits of leftovers that we forgot about and that I refuse to let go to waste. Yesterday, it was Philly Cheese Steak Pretzel Pockets using leftover steak. Today... Leftover Baked Potato Gnocchi.

These poor, cold, wrinkly potatoes were just sitting there, in their container, begging me to use them. My first instinct was to make twice baked potatoes. Simple, right? 

No. It turns out, not so simple. Cold, wet potato skins rip pretty easily.

*sad face*

So, I opened up my handy dandy cookbook app and dug up the last of my recipe cards that still need to be entered, and what to my wandering eyes did appear?

No, not Santa and his reindeer, but my Gnocchi recipe. I always bake the potatoes first, so why not use up the leftovers!

So, I let my potatoes sit out for about a half an hour. Room temperature potatoes are much easier to deal with, especially since they're supposed to be slightly warm. I also set out two eggs to come to room temp. This probably isn't necessary, but it's a baker's habit, I guess.

Once the potatoes were ready, I pulled out my mom's old food millNo, I don't have a fancy schmancy potato ricer, and up until a few months ago, I didn't have this either. I used a box grater, and it worked beautifully. But, that food mill looked so lonely just sitting there in the cabinet...


Oh, the memories of all of the apples I milled as a kid helping my mom can applesauce...


Anyway, using a spoon, I scooped the flesh from my potatoes and into the food mill. I spun that mill with all my might until all of the potato was in the bowl below. 
Pretty, isn't it?
                                                                        
Next, I added two egg yolks. Yolks only here, folks, but don't you dare throw away those whites! They're great as an egg white omelette for tomorrow or an egg-cellent (tehe) excuse to make something with a meringue topping! 

I like to mix the egg and potato first. I've also seen recipes where the flour and egg are added simultaneously. I find that the dough is better incorporated with egg mixed first. Another baker thing, I guess. So, gradually add 1 cup of flour, a little at a time, until a nice, smooth dough forms. You may need a little more, you may need a little less. It all depends on the size of your potatoes and eggs.

In the end, you want something that looks like this.
Next, I roll it out like pretzel dough... Or those clay "snakes" we always made in elementary school art class. Remember those? 

Man, this is quite the nostalgic post.

Anywho... I tend to roll half at a time, as my table is on the smaller side. You want it to be about a half an inch thick, and then cut it into half inch to one inch pieces. 

Now, another dilemma... Some people will roll them on a fork. Some will leave them as they are. I tend to do what my mood and time allows for. Today, we roll!                                                                           
I've been told they hold sauce better when rolled. Whether this is true or not, I really don't know. It all tastes the same to me.

Now, if you want to freeze some (which I usually do. Gnocchi are surprisingly filling), this is the time to do it. Place them on a small baking tray lined with parchment, plastic or foil, and place them in the freezer. After about an hour, they'll be ready for bagging. Freezing this way prevents them from all sticking together!

If you're using them, cook in boiling water with 1 tsp of salt until they float (usually 2-3 minutes).
They will keep just fine in an air tight container if you want to make them in the morning for dinner later that day. I wouldn't let them go more than 2 days before using them.


Baked Potato Gnocchi

2 medium Idaho potatoes, baked and cooled
2 egg yolks
1 cup +/- flour

Grate, mill or rice potatoes into a medium bowl. Add egg yolks, mixing to combine. 
Add flour gradually until dough forms. 
Roll dough into 1/2" log. Cut pieces 1/2-1 inch. 
Freeze or boil 2-3 minutes. 



Basic Cheddar Sauce

1 T butter
1 T flour
1/2 cup milk
2 oz cheddar, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small pot over low heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk together. Add milk, whisking to combine. Once milk warms, add cheese, increasing the heat slightly to melt, but do not boil! Salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in or top with broccoli and crumbled bacon.

Could I seriously make gnocchi any less Italian?!?

This recipe comes in at 334 calories per serving if making 4 servings with 3 slices of bacon and 1/2 cup steamed broccoli.

Enjoy!

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