July 13, 2015
boulette de semoule
(Roman-style gnocchi)
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the meaning of “bane” is “a cause of great distress or annoyance.” For many years, gnocchi were the bane of my teaching. It was the one dish that I could count on students screwing up. It was the one dish that never seemed to work, even if the students followed the directions as they claimed they did. I dreaded having to teach gnocchi. I even dreaded just seeing it on the class menu. It was a cause of great distress and annoyance.
I actually like gnocchi. I like it a lot. I had a dish of potato gnocchi with a creamy pesto sauce in Venice in the 80s, sitting in the courtyard of the Hotel Canada, that I still fondly remember. I’ve prepared potato gnocchi with brown butter and sage to rave reviews on many occasions. Each winter, I relish Bernard Loiseau’s gnocchi à la parisienne prepared from pâte à choux. I love my friend Vanessa’s gnocchi alla Romana. I liked this gnocchi so much that I decided to attempt to do an amuse‑bouche version.
Vanessa gave me her recipe, but I misplaced it so I started my amuse‑bouche version with a recipe I found on the Serious Eats website. After a fork‑full of changes, the following was the result.
butter for cooking and to use as a sauce
gnocchi dough:
250 ml (1 c)
whole milk
65 g (214 oz)
13 g (2 T)
grated parmesan cheese
13 g (scant 1 T)
unsalted butter
fine salt, to taste
1 large
egg yolk
1. Bring the milk to a boil over high heat. As the boiling starts, lower the heat and whisk in the semolina. Continue whisking over low heat until the mixture thickens.
2. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the cheese and butter. Season with salt. Finally, stir in the egg yolk.
3. When barely cool enough to handle, roll the dough into a 12‑mm (12‑in) diameter rope. Place the rope on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking liner. Cut the rope into 16 pieces. The pieces may flatten a bit, which is fine. Place the baking sheet in your freezer.
4. When the pieces are frozen solid, remove them from the baking sheet, and repackage them in a freezer container. Store the pieces in your freezer until needed.
5. To prepare the gnocchi, melt and brown sufficient butter in a frying pan over medium‑low heat. Add the frozen gnocchi pieces. Use two small spatulas to turn and, if necessary, reshape the gnocchi as they brown.
6. When browned on the outside and warm all the way through, transfer the gnocchi to individual serving plates. Spoon a little of the brown butter over each gnocchi.

© 2015 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.