Semolina Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Crisp Sage
4 cups milk
1 cup semolina flour
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg, whisked
salt
olive oil
50 fresh sage leaves

 

Place the milk in a heavy saucepan and heat it to scalding. Whisking, add the semolina slowly. Change to a wooden spoon and stir until stiff and thick and the wooden spoon stands up by itself when set in the center of the gnocchi mixture -- about 20 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter, 1/2 cup of the cheese, nutmeg to taste, the egg, and salt to taste. Stir well until the butter has melted.

Spread the dough out with a rubber spatula on a wet surface to 3/4 inch thickness. Allow it to cool at least 1 hour or up to 3 days in the frig.

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter, cut out as many circles of dough as possible. Butter a 13x9" baking pan. Arrange the circles, overlapping, in rows in the pan. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan until a light brown nutty color, 2 to 5 minutes. Drizzle the browned butter evenly over the gnocchi. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until light golden -- about 25 minutes.

In the meantime, heat about 1/2 inch olive oil in a small skillet until it begins to ripple. Add the sage leaves in batches, and cook until deep green and crisp -- 30 seconds. Remove the leaves from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Place the gnocchi on plates, garnish with the sage leaves and serve.

Notes: Season the gnocchi with plenty of salt and nutmeg -- they won't work if you don't. Be sure to taste and season to your preference. Also, I thought the 6 tablespoons of butter added to this dish was a little too much for me. Next time I'll go with about half of that. The gnocchi dish is from Joanne Weir's "More Cooking in the Wine Country".