Here is another excerpt from COOK, EAT, DEATH METAL, my charity project that benefits survivors and the families of the Paris attacks, through the organizations Fondations de France and The Sweet Stuff. The recipes are all based on EAGLES OF DEATH METAL song titles, and it is comedy gold. You can get right now from Dissention Records at dissentionrecords.com/cook-eat-death-metal
This is a Gnocchi recipe based on their song Solid Gold, from the 2006 album Death by Sexy.
Blue cheese is mold. That’s just science. But it’s delightful mold. And with it, you can make these delicious Potato Gorgonzola Gnocchi, which are the kick-ass culinary love child of pasta and dumplings. They come in many incarnations, from many regions of Italy. But this one is the best, because potato. Gorgonzola is a blue cheese from Milan which is made by introducing spores of Penicillium glaucum. Just calm the fuck down. All blue cheese is made this way. In the old days (like 900 AD) cool, moist caves used for aging the cheese had naturally occurring molds, which made the cheese tangy, salty, and creamy (like the ladies). Today the mold is added by a cheese maker wielding metal spikes that are jabbed into the cheese, creating channels of air that encourage the mold to grow. It’s these jabby spore channels that make gorgonzola amazing. Also, the Jabby Spore Channel is where you can find late night Sci-Fi porn.
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and halved
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ pound gorgonzola
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until tender, then drain. Pass the cooked potatoes through a ricer or a wire mesh strainer into a bowl, then let cool.
- Add the salt, then slowly stir in the flour until the mixture becomes a dough. Divide into four pieces, and roll each into a log about an inch thick. Cut 1-inch pieces off the logs, then press and roll each piece over a gnocchi board, or the back of a fork. This creates ridges that will cling to the sauce later. Rest the formed gnocchi in a single layer on a tray dusted with flour.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Let it brown, then add gorgonzola and stir to melt. Stir in the cream and pepper. Turn to low heat and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water in batches. When they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon, and add to the gorgonzola sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. Toss to coat, then serve, sprinkled with parmesan. Then prepare to be adored, because this dish is grate.
When I was in culinary school, back in the olden days, my Italian instructor made pasta by hand. He rolled it out with a rolling pin, then coiled it up and sliced it with a knife into linguini. It looked so easy that I went home that night and tried it myself. I was impressed with myself, but my friends refused to eat it. I believe the exact words were “inedible”. It seems that I didn’t roll the dough out quite thin enough, so as they cooked, they puffed up into semolina pontoons. I suggest purchasing a pasta machine for best results (and to keep your friends). Plus, I tried to get fancy by making squid ink black pasta (I think it must have been Halloween), and I wasn’t quite ready for such leaps of creativity. My cat liked it though.
I have been thinking a lot about ravioli. A lot. But before we can make the ravioli, we need to get a grip on homemade pasta. Make this first recipe into fettuccini, and top it with a simple sauce. (Brown Butter!!!!!) Or use it in sheets to create the world’s best lasagna. Next week, we will talk about pasta shapes and fillings.
1-3/4 cups semolina flour (also sometimes called pasta flour)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4-1/2 cup water – as needed
- In a large bowl, combine semolina and eggs, and mix until the egg is well absorbed. Add water slowly, a little at a time, and stir until a firm, dry dough is formed. The dough should look crumbly, but hold together when compressed. Knead for 3-4 minutes, until smooth. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
- Divide the dough into three portions. Work with one at a time, and keep the rest refrigerated. Run the dough through the pasta machine rollers, starting at its widest setting (usually #1). Pass the dough through the rollers, fold it, and pass it through again, 4-5 times on the widest setting. As you do this, you will notice that it is becoming smoother, and more manageable. The machine is essentially kneading the dough. Try to keep the strip of dough from getting too wide by folding it lengthwise occasionally. When it is perfectly smooth, start passing it through each descending width of the machine. Make only one pass through each number, unless you encounter a tear or hole. Dust with extra semolina as needed to prevent sticking. As the dough gets longer and longer, cut it in half so you’ll have manageable sized strips to work with. When you have reached the thinnest width (usually #7) the pasta is ready to cut, form, or cook.
- Pass dough sheets through the cutter attachment of the pasta machine, or use any number of cutting tools, including pizza/pastry wheels, embossed rolling pins, or a chitarra (a pasta “guitar”). Dry long strands by hanging over a dowel (or a fancy pasta drying rack) or toss strands immediately in more semolina and set aside in loose piles. Continue with remaining dough.
- To cook fresh pasta, use an extra large pot of boiling salted water. At the rolling boil, add pasta, stir, and cook 1-2 minutes. Drain and dress as desired.
Browned butter is possibly the best sauce on earth. It is incredibly simple, yet most cooks are too timid to get at its full potential. We are accustomed to thinking that anything brown or black is burned. Not so with browned butter.
The French name means nutty butter because the milk solids sink to the bottom and take on a nutty flavor. If you have the guts to let it get black, you have buerre noir, and a heap’n help’n of flavor.
Simply melt the butter over med-high heat. A sauté pan is best, as the solids sink quickly to the bottom. Do not stir, just watch and wait. You will see the fat and solids separate. Some will sink, and some will float at first. Keep the heat on and eventually they will all end up on the bottom, browning nicely. That’s it!
Browned butter makes a great sauce for all kinds of foods including vegetables, fish, potatoes, and noodles. It can also be chilled and used in cake and cookie recipes for incredible, unexpected flavor.