These feather-light Italian dumplings can be made from spinach, ricotta, polenta, or semolina flour, but are most commonly made from potatoes. Their thin grooves are perfect for catching the Bolognese sauce.
Cooking Light APRIL 2004
To prepare sauce, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and pork; cook 3 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove meat from pan, and cool slightly. Finely chop meat.
Heat pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, porcini, and garlic cloves; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chopped meat, milk, 3/4 teaspoon salt, tomatoes, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Uncover and cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley and thyme; cook 15 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf.
To prepare the gnocchi, preheat oven to 400°.
Bake potatoes at 400° for 1 1/2 hours or until done; cool slightly. Cut each potato in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp. Discard skins. Mash pulp. Place 4 cups mashed potatoes in a large bowl, reserving remaining mashed potatoes for another use. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and egg yolks to 4 cups mashed potatoes, and stir to combine. Knead until smooth (about 2 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Divide dough into 6 portions. Shape each portion into a 10-inch-long rope. Cut each rope into 10 (1-inch) pieces; roll each piece into a ball. Working with one dough piece at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), using your thumb or index finger, roll dough piece down the tines of a lightly floured fork (gnocchi will have ridges on one side and an indention on the other). Place gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet.
Bring 1 gallon water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add half of gnocchi; cook 3 minutes or until done (gnocchi will rise to the surface). Remove cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon; place in a colander. Repeat procedure with remaining uncooked gnocchi. Serve immediately with sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.
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