Thursday, March 17, 2011

Toasted Ricotta Gnocchi

Gnocchi is one of those dishes that you’re not sure of when you first hear of it, but once you try it, you fall in love. It is defined as Italian dumplings, which doesn’t sound bad, but also doesn’t sound particularly enticing. In fact, the description could be a little mysterious. When you think of dumplings, you might think of Chinese dumplings. Well, gnocchi are not like Chinese dumplings: they have no filling and they are much much smaller. They have some similarities to the dumplings in the traditional country dish chicken and dumplings in that they are small and have no filling. But in my opinion, gnocchi are much better. Yet I qualify that not all gnocchi are delicious. Some are too chewy: the consistency is sticky and doughy. I have tried many gnocchi dishes before and have been disappointed. So beware of trying just any. But there is one place whose gnocchi I can guarantee will not disappoint: Jane in New York City. Jane makes a toasted ricotta gnocchi that is going to be the last meal I am going to want before I die. Jane’s gnocchi is tender. It melts in your mouth so that you barely have to chew it. Since it is toasted though, it has a crisp outside, the perfect complement to the softness of the inner dough. Like the best part on a grilled cheese sandwich, it is golden, not burnt. Finally, bathing in a cream sauce and made of a mild cheese, Jane’s ricotta gnocchi is sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. I could eat a whole plate, which says a lot for a person who always brings half of her meal home from restaurants.

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