Piedmont  (Piemonte) is in the northwestern corner of Italy.  Famous for its wine and white truffles, the Piedmont region provides many culinary delights.

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Stuffed Gnocchi

(Serves 4)
Gnocchi Stuffed with Sausage
Gnocchi Stuffed with Sausage
Gnocchi (pronounced no-kee) are soft dumplings that may be made from wheat flour, semolina, ricotta cheese, potatoes, or bread crumbs.  Gnocchi are made throughout Italy but the stuffed version is made mainly in the Piedmont region. Traditional gnocchi are typically served as a primi piatti or first course.  Stuffed gnocchi, however, are larger in size and can be very filling, so you may wish to serve them as a secondi piatti or main dish.

The key to making delicate potato gnocchi is to add as little flour as possible but enough to keep the dough together.  The filling should have a robust flavor so that it stands out from the potato dough. For a vegetarian version, you might want to try a cheese or vegetable filling.  Just be sure that the filling you choose is not too soft and watery; this would make the gnocchi difficult to seal and may cause them to open during cooking.  Refrigerate the gnocchi dough and filling for at least 30 minutes before assembling so that they are easier to work with.

Potato Gnocchi:
3 medium baking potatoes
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup all- purpose flour

Sausage Filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Italian sausage link, removed from casing (about 2 ounces)
1 tablespoon chopped onion
2 tablespoons red wine
Salt and pepper
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoon heavy cream


To make the gnocchi dough:
Bake the potatoes in a 350-degree F. oven for 1 hour or until tender.
While they're still hot, cut all the potatoes in half lengthwise - you want to create as much surface area as possible so that the steam comes out.
(Steam is water; the less water the potatoes contain, the less flour you will need. The less flour, the lighter the gnocchi.)

Scoop the potatoes out of the skins and into a ricer or a bowl.  Press the potatoes through the ricer or mash them.  Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, combine the egg yolk, salt, nutmeg, and Parmesan cheese.  Add the mashed potatoes.  Add the flour, a little at a time, until a dough forms and holds together.  The dough should be soft but firm enough to roll.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling:
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet.  Add the sausage and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion; cook 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the wine; cook until the wine is completely evaporated.  Transfer the mixture to a colander to drain and cool.

When cool, transfer the mixture to a food processor.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the egg yolk and cream.  Process until a fine texture is achieved.
Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes.

To assemble the Stuffed Gnocchi:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Put the stuffing mixture in a pastry bag with a 1/4-inch opening.
Dust the work surface lightly with flour.
Divide the dough into 2 or more parts.
Shape each into a sausage-like roll about 1 inch in diameter.
Cut the roll into pieces 3/4 inch wide.
Flatten each piece into an oval about 2 inches long x 1 inch wide.
Pipe a small amount of the stuffing in the center of each piece of dough.
Bring the long sides together over the filling and pinch the ends closed.
They will have a half-moon shape at this point.
Roll the gnocchi in a flat surface to form a rounded tube shape.
Place the gnocchi on the prepared baking sheet.
Refrigerate until ready to cook.
Cook the gnocchi in boiling, salted water 2-3 minutes or until they float to the surface.
Remove and mix gently with your desired sauce.
I used a Traditional Tomato Sauce thinned with chicken broth.
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and (optional) fresh parsley.
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This reversible board functions in such a way that one side can be used for work with dough to keep it smooth all the time and the other side as a cutting board.
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