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Semolina Gnocchi

Gnocchi di Semolina

SERVES 6 TO 8

One night in the Alto Adige region of Italy, I ordered gnocchi di semolina, and the waiter brought me a plateful of succulent little disks swimming in butter and topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The whole affair had been quickly passed under the broiler to give the gnocchi a crisp crust. So enamored was I of their delicate flavor that I slipped the waiter a few thousand lire — and off he went in a flash to retrieve the recipe from the chef.

Ingredients

4 cups milk

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons grated nutmeg

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons semolina flour

1 large egg

3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Grated nutmeg

Directions

Lightly grease a marble slab or a clean work surface with olive oil.

To make the gnocchi, in a large saucepan, preferably nonstick, combine the milk, 3 tablespoons of the butter, the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to just under a boil. Add the semolina in a steady stream, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon so no lumps form. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is thick, looks like cooked Cream of Wheat, and starts to come away from the sides of the pan, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, the egg, and cheese. Stir vigorously to blend. Turn the mixture out onto the oiled slab and let cool for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a large baking dish.

Place a sheet of oiled wax paper over the dough and roll the dough out with a rolling pin to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Remove the wax paper and cut out disks with a floured 1-inch cookie cutter. Arrange the disks in the buttered dish, overlapping them slightly. Gather the dough scraps, roll out, and cut out more disks; add these to the baking dish.

In a small pan, melt the butter. Pour it over the gnocchi and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a grating of fresh nutmeg. Bake for 15 minutes, or until hot, then run the dish under the broiler to brown the cheese. Serve at once.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc. in 1991.

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