Sunday, June 26, 2022

keto gnocchi

The adventure in Spaetzle batter continued tonight, but this time, I used the batter to make keto gnocchi. Atop the gnocchi, I added a cream sauce made with Italian sausage (home-ground, of course, because once you start grinding, you can't go back to store-bought), Gruyère, English cheddar, heavy cream, and butter. As sinful as that sounds, it's actually pretty keto; the only real disadvantage is the calorie content.

Regular gnocchi is a combination of flour and potatoes (with some egg), mixed together to form a thickish dough that is then rolled into long thin (or thick) tubes, cut into "pillows," as they're often called, and possibly rolled over a gnocchi roller or a fork to provide the pillows with their traditional, ridged look (see here). The Spaetzle batter I was using this evening was way too liquidy for that, so I put the batter in a Ziploc bag, cut off one corner, then piped thick bits of batter into boiling water, using a pair of scissors to cut the pillow shapes as the gnocchi squeeeeezed out like something intestinal. With my keto gnocchi plopping straight into the water, there was no chance for me to make the traditional ridges, which some aficionados argue can help to catch more of the surrounding sauce.

The problem with this batter, versus regular gnocchi, is that regular gnocchi will sink to the bottom of boiling water, resting there a minute or two before popping back to the water's surface, which is when you know the gnocchi is done and ready to be fished out. My batter, by contrast, produces pillows that float immediately, so I then have to boil them a couple minutes before daring to fish them out, just to make sure they're done all the way through. This isn't a big deal; it's just something to remember about my batter. I left my gnocchi to boil in the water about three minutes because these were super-large pillows; I then fished them out with a slotted spoon and dumped them into a waiting cake pan to dry out a bit. Once I had filled the pan with my pasta, I placed the pan into my oven at 350ºF (about 175ºC) and let the gnocchi bake, so as to dry out further, about ten minutes. I then pan fried the gnocchi to give them a bit more flavor, using a mixture of olive oil and butter. 

By themselves, these keto gnocchi are nice but a bit plain, and they don't have anything like the texture of regular gnocchi. If anything, my keto gnocchi reminded me of... falafel, with a very similar chew and mouth-feel. I even began to think that, if I added some cayenne or paprika and bits of dried onion flakes, I might be able to make keto hush puppies next time. Yeah... there's another idea. This is a very versatile batter, even if it doesn't taste spectacular in gnocchi form (it tasted better last week as deep-fried Spaetzle).

Here's a pic of the keto gnocchi pan-frying:

the initial sizzle

And below, here are the pan-fried gnocchi:

not real gnocchi, but not bad on their own terms

Below, I've fried up my homemade sausage, added the elements for my cream sauce, and tossed in the gnocchi. The result was not bad:

gnocchi in cream sauce, kind of

Here's a food-porn closeup before the final garnish:

chunkily inviting

I tossed on some dried parsley just for effect:

the final form

The cream sauce was good but unexpectedly salty.* I might use more cream and less cheese next time (cheese is naturally salty, and my sausage was, too). When I did gnocchi with cream sauce years ago, I think I made a more traditional Alfredo (Parmigiano, cream, and butter as the base, plus garlic and black pepper); tonight's sauce, with its Gruyère and cheddar, went somewhat west of Italy. All in all, though, this was a good result.

Keep in mind that, from the keto perspective, it's not the cream sauce that does you in: it's the pasta. Healthy dietary fat does not translate into body fat; your body doesn't simply assimilate exogenous fat like the Borg.  Cream and cheese are high in calories, but they are very low in carbs, making them healthier than you might think. Pasta, by contrast, is death for people on keto—along with bread, cakes, cookies, candies, and all the rest. About the only sweets allowed on keto are berries, especially blueberries and strawberries, mainly thanks to their fiber.

Anyway, that was tonight's adventure. I might continue to make this keto batter next week; perhaps I'll do those aforementioned hush puppies and have some salmon on the side. Mmm. Or, hey: I could try making keto falafel by adding Middle Eastern spices to my batter. Now, there's a thought: keto falafel and tzatziki, maybe with my Middle Eastern lamb mince, all in a huge salad. The sky's the limit.


*I tried a sample of the gnocchi before I put everything together. I pan-cooked the sample gnocchi in butter and added a light sprinkling of parsley, garlic powder, and that green-bottled Parmesan cheese that I keep for culinary emergencies. The result was quite tasty! So another thing I might try is making the gnocchi the star of the show, adding very little meat and extremely little sauce. I think that might be a winning strategy. Frying the hell out of the gnocchi and turning it into something like keto tater tots is also a possibility.

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