"Pro-Activ did nothing for the twins."
This is a story about potato-based pasta, pork and cheese. Gather your loved ones. Lock the children in the cellar.
I know I talked big about seasonal produce but I don't know what to tell you. Sometimes I'm down for eating local, and other times I'm into eating, in a foul, foul way. So why not combine so much of what I was born to love into a dish that is born to make me hate myself.
While a recipe follows, there's no real rule to this - you're basically simmering some dairy and aromatics, then rendering some pork and adding it all to a pot of little potato dumplings. Just add what feels right, and swap what you don't like for something that you do - chives instead of basil and thyme would be great, I think, and Gouda cheese - how did Gouda avoid this party? Do yourself a favor, and stick to the rule of ramekins - it is the perfect portion size for something this tenderly rich and melting, and keeps you from getting feral. Eat with a friend. And we'll get seasonal in a bit.
Gnocchi and Cheese with Prosciutto and Herbs
1 lb fresh gnocchi
1 ¼ cups Half and Half (or equal mix whole milk/cream)
¼ cup diced, cubed prosciutto (Note: I can find this easily, it is sold near the sliced/pre-packaged proscuitto in a nearby market's cold case - but if you can't, please do sub in some small-dice pancetta or lardons. Just make sure you saute those uncooked pork bits a little longer)
Fresh basil, thyme and flat-leaf parsley
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 ½ cups shredded and/or soft cheeses (I used sharp cheddar, goat cheese and brie – you can vary the cheeses and eyeball this amount, adding more or less depending on your taste)
Salt, to taste
In a small saucepan, sauté prosciutto and garlic in a small bit of butter over medium-low heat, until prosciutto is golden brown and garlic is soft – this shouldn’t take more than 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Pour Half and Half into a medium saucepan, with high sides, and heat over medium until slightly thickened, stirring often, around five minutes. If it begins to bubble or foam, take off of the heat for a moment, and turn it down before continuing on. Once it coats the back of a spoon, thickly, turn heat down and add in salt and pepper to taste (a ¼ teaspoon of each to start), red pepper flakes and the leaves from one or two sprigs of fresh thyme. Cook for another minute or two, and then add in the prosciutto and garlic. Stir well, turn off the heat and add a cup of your chosen mixed cheeses, and as much or as little minced fresh parsley and basil as you like.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a little salt and then the gnocchi, cooking according to package directions, minus a minute or two (mine took only two or three minutes). Drain well, and add to sauce or vice versa, stirring gently – the sauce will be thin, compared to béchamels and other white sauces, but as long as the cheese is melted and it coats the gnocchi, you’re good. Divide between four one-cup ramekins or like dishes, or pour it all into one medium casserole dish – you’re a grown up. You do what you want. Nobody tells you what to do, unless you ask them to.
Now, the best part of this whole thing – no long bake! You just want to broil these for five to seven minutes, until those great golden boils show up and everything starts to fester. Then remove, cool for a few moments, and go to town – you can also garnish with a smidge more fresh herbs, or you can just stuff it down your gullet and moan. Either way, you’re classy.