Gnocchi alla Romana (Hard-wheat Flour)
About Gnocchi alla Romana
Despite their name, gnocchi alla romana do not resemble gnocchi at all and they are prepared in a completely different way. Semolina flour is first cooked in milk, then shaped into discs and baked in the oven with butter and grated parmigiano cheese until golden and crispy. It is a wonderful comfort food!
Gnocchi alla romana are a fundamental part of traditional Roman cuisine. They probably did not originate in Rome's region of Lazio as two very northern ingredients, butter and Parmigiano Reggiano, are used in this dish. What we do know is that it's an expression of traditional peasant cuisine made with a poor ingredient like semolina flour. And that it's now a 100% Capitoline tradition.
250g (8.8oz or 2 cups) semola
1 liter (quarter gallon or 4 cups) milk
2 egg yolks
50g (1.8oz or 1/2 cup) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
100g (3.5oz or 1/2 cup) butter
Heat the milk in a large saucepan at medium-high. As it warms up, grate in some nutmeg and add a pinch of salt.
When the milk comes to a boil, gradually sprinkle in the semolina flour in small amounts to prevent lumps and whisk continuously.
The semolina has to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes and you need to stir it all the time. The mixture will gradually thicken and become difficult to whisk.
Switch to a wooden spoon or a stiff rubber spatula and continue stirring. Make sure to stir deep into corners and all over the bottom of the saucepan to prevent the semolina from sticking (it will still end up sticking a little). Stir with all the elbow grease you've got!
After about 10-15 minutes, once the semolina has cooked, remove it from the stove. Add 2 egg yolks.
Add half of the amount of butter and the grated parmesan.
Stir vigorously until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Now you're ready to shape your gnocchi alla romana. There are two ways to do it: the traditional method and the shortcut method.
Place your thick semolina dough on a clean and slightly wet working surface (kitchen counter, baking pan).
Flatten it out with wet hands, rolling pin, or wide knife so it doesn't stick to the dough. Flatten the semolina dough until it's about 1cm / 0.4in thick and let it cool completely.
To shape the flattened semolina dough, use a wet round cookie cutter or a glass to punch out circles of whichever size you prefer. This is the traditional shape of gnocchi alla romana.
Tip: you can also cut out squares with a wet knife and avoid the scraps you get from round-shaped gnocchi.
This is a great way to easily make round-shaped gnocchi with no scraps!
Get a large piece of parchment paper. Place your thick semolina dough in the center and roll it out until you have a log of about 6cm / 2.4in in diameter.
To ensure the gnocchi log stays in shape while cooling, first tightly wrap it with parchment paper. Then use plastic wrap to seal it. Leave to cool completely.
Tip: you can prepare these gnocchi logs the day before and store them in the fridge.
Unwrap the gnocchi log and cut out disks of about 1cm / 0.4in thick using a wet knife.
Whichever method you used, you now have to bake them.
Grease an oven-proof dish and arrange the gnocchi in a slightly overlapping pattern. Add the remaining butter on top of the gnocchi and sprinkle a generous amount of grated parmigiano.
Place the dish in the hot oven for about 15 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.