Celery Root Gnocchi with Bacon and Apple

Fall is here, and with it a certain license to eat heavier food.  We must warm our body and soul! Besides, our jiggly bits will be hidden by wool and corduroy.  Go ahead, pack on a few, you deserve it.

Though we may crave somewhat heavier food, gnocchi, if poorly handled, become leaden sinkers that can put you to sleep, on your side, rubbing your distended belly.

Handled gently, and lightened with a bit of celery root puree, gnocchi are satisfying, but not paralyzing.

Mise en Place

Equipment

  • large pot
  • food processor
  • potato rice, or food mill
  • large, flat, clean work surface
  • sheet pan, lined with wax paper or parchment
  • large skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 large celery root, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large, or 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 handful celery leaves, chopped, a few reserved for garnish, whole

1) Make a celery root puree.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the celery root, and maintain a steady simmer for 10-20 minutes, or until the celery root is easily pierced with a fork.  Transfer to a food processer and pulse to a smooth puree.  Reserve.

2) Boil and rice the potatoes.  Boil the potatoes for 10-20 minutes, until fork tender, before ricing.

3) Brown the bacon, as the potatoes cool.  In the large skillet over medium low heat, cook the bacon to a crispy, brown before transferring to paper towels to drain.  Reserve.

4) Make the gnocchi dough.  In a large bowl stir together the potato and celery root with the egg yolks.  Season with salt.  Add about 1 cup of flour and slowly incorporate, folding the dough over itself and pressing with your knuckles.  Remove the dough to a large flat work surface, adding and incorporating flour a half cup at a time until the dough is cohesive and no longer sticks to your hands.  Do not knead the dough.  Too much gluten development will make the gnocchi heavy.

5) Shape the gnocchi.  Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.  Work with one piece at a time, while leaving the remaining pieces under an overturned bowl or damp kitchen cloth.  Roll each piece into a snake, about 1/2 inch thick, on a well-floured work surface.  With a knife or bench scraper divide the snake into 3/4 inch pieces.  Flour the gnocchi and transfer to a sheet pan lined with wax paper or parchment.  Place the sheet pan in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

6) Boil the gnocchi and sautee the apple.  Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil, as you melt, but do not brown, the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  As the butter melts peel and dice an apple.  Add the apple to the skillet and raise the heat to medium.  Add the gnocchi to the boiling water as the apple cooks.

7) Compose the dish.  Allow the gnocchi to rise to the surface.  About a minute after they have risen transfer the gnocchi to the skillet along with a ladleful of pasta water.  Bring the contents of the skillet to a simmer over high heat.  Add the celery leaf and bacon, tossing the contents of the skillet several times to incorporate the ingredients and emulsify the sauce.  Take the skillet off the heat and add most of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Toss the contents of the skillet several more times.  Season with salt and transfer to serving dishes.  Garnish with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano and whole celery leaves.

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