I first stepped foot in Turin, Italy a few months after the Winter Olympics and just in time for Fall. If there's anywhere you want to be travel in Italy in the fall, it's Turin because, as the biggest city in Piedmont, everywhere you go people are celebrating the seasonal cuisine with loads of truffles, mushrooms, and chestnuts.
Of everything I ate, the chestnut gnocchi at Al Garamond stuck with me as the most quintessential yet unexpected fall dish. The hazelnut-y flavor of the gnocchi with the buttery, mushroom-y flavor the cheese sauce was somehow both totally indulgent and surprisingly light. So, as I often do, I reverse engineered the recipe once I returned home. Al Garamond serves its gnocchi with a fontina sauce, but I switched things up by topping them with another cheese from the area, the creamy two milk cheese known as Robiola Bosina.
scrubbed (about 4 medium potatoes)
Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Pierce the potatoes all over and place in the oven; bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 55 minutes. While the potatoes are baking, combine flours in a bowl and whisk to break up any lumps. Set aside.
When the potatoes are ready, remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, combine egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Scoop out potato flesh and immediately pass through a ricer.
A potato ricer is essential to make the gnocchi extra light.
Mound riced potatoes on a clean, dry surface and form a well in the middle. Add egg mixture to the well and, using your hands, mix just until evenly incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add flour in two parts and mix just until incorporated, about 2 to 3 minutes total. (Don’t overmix or you’ll end up with tough pasta.) Shape dough into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 15 minutes.
Chestnut flour can be purchased online or at a gourmet grocery store.
Divide dough into 8 even pieces and lightly roll hands back and forth over each piece to form a long rope 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut ropes crosswise into 1-inch gnocchi. Lightly flour your forefinger, your thumb, and the tines of a salad fork. Using your thumb, lightly press the cut side of the gnocchi into the back of the fork tines, then roll/flick it off with your forefinger; your thumb will leave a concave impression that’s handy for holding sauce. Place the gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet and keep at room temperature until ready to cook.
The gnocchi can be formed up to 2 hours ahead of time, placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet, covered, and refrigerated until ready to use.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water (it should taste like sea water) to a boil over high heat. Add gnocchi (make sure the pot isn’t crowded—you’ll need to do this in batches) and cook until they float to the surface, about 30 seconds. Continue to cook until al dente and the raw flour flavor is gone, about another 30 seconds. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon and set aside. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. Meanwhile, combine cheese and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking frequently, until cheese is melted and smooth, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low to keep the sauce warm while the gnocchi cook.
Robiola Bosina cheese is a rich cow and sheep's milk cheese from Northern Italy -- you can find it in gourmet stores or online.
Once all the gnocchi are cooked, add them to the cheese sauce and gently stir to coat. Serve immediately.
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