Chestnut gnocchi

Chestnut gnocchi

Gnocchi di castagne

By
From
Acquacotta
Serves
4
Photographer
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

A staple in Tuscany’s peasant cuisine for centuries, the chestnut is a hearty, versatile autumn ingredient that could easily be foraged in the woods. It can be found fresh, dried or in flour form, and is used often for stuffing roast meat or poultry, and for making desserts like Castagnaccio. In Saturnia, you can find boiled mashed chestnuts as a hearty filling for tortelli (as square ravioli are known in Maremma), dressed in melted butter infused with wild fennel seeds. They’re also enjoyed all on their own, boiled or roasted over a fire and then dipped in red wine as an end to an autumn or winter dinner.

Here, chestnut flour made from dried and ground chestnuts, is used in place of wheat flour to make these plump gnocchi, and an extra egg is added to help bind the mixture. They can be served simply with some melted butter and chopped sage leaves, or with a Sugo Maremmano. They are also excellent with the sauce used as a topping for Crostini Maremmani, which is a ragu made of half chicken liver, half minced (ground) meat. As chestnuts and their flour are naturally quite sweet, you can be heavy-handed on the cheese here.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg whole potatoes, use starchy varieties such as dutch creams, king edwards or russets
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
200g chestnut flour, plus extra for dusting

Method

  1. Rinse the potatoes, place them whole in their skins in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook over medium heat until they are completely soft and a fork slips easily into their centres. Drain the potatoes and, while still hot, peel them – use a fork to ‘hold’ the potato in one hand while you peel the skin with a sharp knife with the other hand. Immediately mash them, spreading them out over a chopping board or a tray to allow the steam to escape as quickly as possible.
  2. When you have fluffy and cool mashed potato, combine the eggs and salt, beating well into the potato until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. Add the chestnut flour, bit by bit, incorporating with each addition until you have an easy-to-handle dough that rolls nicely without sticking (depending on the quality of the chestnut flour, you may or may not need all of the flour). Because these gnocchi have no gluten in them, you don’t need to worry about overworking the dough as with regular gnocchi, but it should be a pretty fast procedure.
  3. On a work surface, lightly dusted with chestnut flour, cut the dough into four portions. Work with one piece at a time. Roll the dough into a long log about 2 cm thick, then cut into pieces 2.5 cm long. Place the finished gnocchi in a single layer on a tray lined with baking paper. Continue until the dough is finished.
  4. Cook the gnocchi in a large saucepan filled with gently simmering, salted water – ideally, use 1 teaspoon of salt per 1 litre of water. Once the water comes back to a simmer and the gnocchi are floating, let them cook for a further 1–2 minutes. Remove gently with a slotted spoon and place them directly into serving bowls. Pour over your preferred warm sauce (as these don’t have gluten in them, they are a little too delicate to toss through the pan with the sauce). Serve immediately.

Note

  • Try to use potatoes of similar size for even cooking. Use eggs that weigh 55–60 g in the shell each.

Variation

  • You can also serve the gnocchi baked – this is a good solution if you would like to prepare these gnocchi in advance. Boil them as described, then lift them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and place in an ovenproof dish in a single layer. They can be kept like this, the dish covered or wrapped in plastic wrap, overnight or for 24 hours. Then, the next day, drizzle 1–2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil or melted butter over the top, followed by your preferred sauce. Sprinkle a generous handful of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese over the top and place in a hot oven – 200°C – until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 15 minutes.
Tags:
Italian
Tuscany
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