No matter what language, these gnocchi show up in various parts of the world, but are still not well known here in the U.S. These days people are generally familiar with the traditional Italian Gnocchi, served up in Italian restaurants, sometimes made of things like butternut squash or ricotta. But there is another type of gnocchi, traditional in the north of Italy and into Austria and Germany, which explains why they have yet to make it onto Italian restaurant menus in the states. About 2 million Italian immigrants came to the U.S. between 1900 and 1910, mostly from the south of Italy and Sicily, fleeing poverty and violence. So the foods that we have come to associate with Italy are traditionally southern Italian. The cuisine of Northern Italy is not as well known here, although it is beginning to gain popularity. This is one of those dishes.
It is also well known in Argentina, no doubt because of the large number of Italian immigrants that landed there between 1880 and 1920. In fact, today over ½ of all Argentines have some degree of Italian ancestry. You will find many recipes for these in Italian, Spanish, and German. Mom used to make these pretty often when I was a kid. I’ve made them a few times, usually in the fall when I see the small Italian Prune Plums show up in the store. This last time I think was my best effort yet, so here it is!
The gnocchi begin with my regular gnocchi dough – potatoes, salt, eggs, and flour. I add just a little more flour to this version. Then you roll the dough out into a thin sheet, make small squares, and place inside each square a single plum, which has been halved and the pit replaced with some sugar. The whole thing gets wrapped up in a ball, about 2 – 2 ½” in diameter, then cooked in boiling water for about 10 minutes. While the gnocchis are cooking, you melt some butter and breadcrumbs which become your sauce. For serving, you sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on top. Despite the sweet elements of this dish, it is served as a main course.
Gnocchi di Susini – Plum filled Gnocchi
- 3 Russet Potatoes
- 4 tsp Salt
- 1 large Egg lightly beaten
- 1 ½ – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 12 Italian Prune Plums or 4 – 6 regular plums, diced
- ½ cup Sugar
- 2 tsp Cinnamon
- 6 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- ½ cup Fine Plain Bread Crumbs
- Boil whole potatoes with their skins on in a big pot of water seasoned with 3 tsp of the salt until just tender, about 45 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the plums. Cut each plum in half, remove the pit, sprinkle about ¼ teaspoon of sugar in the center where the pit was, and put back together. If using large plums, chop into small pieces and toss with sugar.
- Peel cooked potatoes and pass through a food mill or ricer onto a large wooden cutting board. Spread out to cool.
- Gather up the cooled potatoes into a mound and make a well in the center. Add the egg and 1 tsp salt and begin mixing with a fork, slowly incorporating the potatoes into the egg. Once the egg is absorbed, begin adding the flour ½ cup at a time, working it in gently after each addition. Continue adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky.
- Form dough into a ball, and then roll out into a sheet about ½” thick. Cut into squares about 2″ square.
- Place one plum in the center of each square and then carefully wrap the dough around the plum, forming a large ball. Make sure that all of the seams are sealed well.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully add the gnocchi one at a time using a spider or strainer. Cook for about ten minutes after they rise to the surface, till the gnocchi are somewhat firm but still tender. They will still be quite delicate though, so take care not to smoosh them, but stir often to prevent sticking.
- While the gnocchi cook, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the breadcrumbs and cook till golden brown. If sauce seems too thick, add more butter.
- When gnocchis are cooked, carefully drop them into the pan with the breadcrumbs and cook over high heat for about 4 or 5 minutes, carefully flipping them over halfway through. You want to get just a little bit of a crust on the top and bottom.
- Place 3 gnocchis in each bowl and drizzle lots of butter and breadcrumbs on top. Finish with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.