I’m colour blind. It’s true. A sin inherited from the mother, my fickle X-chromosome refuses to let me produce the cone photoreceptors to pick up green. Instead, that part of the visible spectrum is a smear between red and blue. So, probably, my green is your purple. Has that blown your mind?
This explains why, in a visual sense I’ve always been drawn to strong colour contrasts. I’ve literally had to teach myself a new code of colour matching to replace my instincts, so that my ties do not cause waves of sartorial offence when I walk in a room.
A paprikash is awash with smoked or sweet Hungarian paprika, and always comes out a vibrant red. Traditionally, it is paired with potato or an egg pasta/ dumpling hybrid called nokedli. But I wanted green, god dammit! Look at that contrast!
These gnocchi are a little revision on traditional potato gnocchi, rounded out with chopped spinach and a little ricotta. Now, unlike the severely prescribed proportions of pastry, savoury dishes are more forgiving. I have therefore given only approximate proportions for the gnocchi do. You need to judge by feel. In particular, the amount of flour you need is going to be proportionate to the water content of your potato mash. The more water you get out, the less gluey the dough. You want just enough flour to let you be able to knead the dough and work it without it breaking apart. Just a little bit of elasticity, in other words. If you put too much flour in, your little pillows will be quite dense.
The best part of making gnocchi is how the little fuckers float to the surface when they are ready. This is a fact.
- veal neck, diced
- brown onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper) diced
- veal stock
- a fuckload of paprika (around 3 Tsp for 500g meat)
- dash of cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper
- sour cream to finish
- 500g floury potato (eg: desiree), peeled
- about 100g plain flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- 50g frozen spinach, chopped fine
- 100g ricotta
- First the paprikash. Season the meat. In a flat bottomed pan, brown the meat, in batches if necessary, in hot oil until browned. Not gray. Brown. Set aside.
- Brown the onions and garlic in a deep pot with oil. Add the peppers, and cook until softened.
- Add the meat, paprika and stock. Lightly season - this reduces considerably and you don’t want to oversalt. Add the cayenne.
- Cook for 3-4 hours until the meat is very tender.
- Remove from heat and stir in a tablespoon of sour cream. Adjust seasoning.
- Now the gnocchi. Boil the potatoes in salted water. Mash, preferably using a potato flourer. Allow the stam to escape for a bit, to bring out some of the water. Season.
- Work in half the flour. Add the egg and ricotta. Work the dough.
- Flour a surface, then throw the dough on and add the rest of the flour, a bit at a time. Give the dough a good kneading. You want to aim for somewhere between the texture of mashed potato and proper bread dough. Once you’ve got it right, mix the chopped spinach in.
- Break off little balls, and roll them out on a floured surface into long sausages. Use a fork or knife to cut the sausages into little pillows.
- Boil water. Add the gnocchi. After a couple of minutes, give the bottom a scrape to make sure they are not sticking. When they float to the top, skim out and drain.
- Serve paprikash on top of gnocchi. Garnish with another dab of sour cream.
Serve with a Chianti Classico