“Don’t be scared of butter, America!” says Chef Ludo Lefebvre. “Butter is very good for you.”
Gnocchi: it’s not just for Italians. Chef Ludo Lefebvre is back with a new episode, and this time, he wants to introduce you to the Parisian twist on this pasta favorite: “When you think about gnocchi, you’re thinking about potato gnocchi. The Italian way. But the
French gnocchi is good too...almost like a French dumpling.”
What is Parisian Gnocchi? “Parisian Gnocchi,” says Ludo, “is a dough, the same dough as when we do gougère and cream puffs.” The dough is very simple: first, boil salted water with unsalted butter and a pinch of nutmeg—”we use nutmeg a lot in French cooking,” says Ludo. Add flour slowly to the boiling liquid, stirring constantly. The resulting dough should be stick-to-the-spoon thick.
Transfer the warm dough to a mixing bowl and mix in eggs one at a time. After each egg, the dough will separate—wait until it has come back together before adding the next. The dough becomes smooth, at which point Ludo adds parmesan cheese (any grated hard cheese willdo) and mixes thoroughly.
Now, on to the fun part! Gnocchi is made by piping the dough through a pastry bag and cutting into small pillows. Pro-tip from Ludo: If you don’t have a pastry bag, a Ziploc will do. Snip off a corner and you’ve got a perfect extruder.
Ludo pipes the dough above a pot of boiling water and cuts with a wet knife—make sure it’s wet, to prevent the dough from sticking—to form the gnocchi. He says size and shape don’t matter: “It’s like boobies. Go to the doctor and pick any size you want.”
Once the gnocchi begin to float, it means they’re almost cooked—at this point, “wait like two minutes, and they will be okay.”
After removing the gnocchi from the boiling water, things get really French: “I want my gnocchi to swim in butter,” says Ludo, searing them in a cast iron skillet. “I’m going to cook the gnocchi the same way I will cook a steak or fish. Each side needs to be cooked the same [amount of] time. When I see the golden-brown coloration,” says Ludo, “it’s perfect” and ready for flipping.
Ludo seasons the pan butter with fresh herbs—rosemary, thyme—before starting on the sauce, a simple and buttery take on cacio e pepe: water, butter, parmesan, salt and pepper. “It’s not like a beurre blanc where it’s a very, very thick sauce, a French sauce. It’s more like a little broth.” To plate, pour the thin sauce over a pile of gnocchi and top with parmesan and freshly ground pepper.
Get Ludo's Parisian Gnocci recipe here.
As he takes a bite he exclaims, “They’re gooey, but also crispy...it is everything I like about eating.”