I have a strange memory for food sometimes. On many occasions, I have encountered a crumbly, grey Italian sausage meat tucked among creamy pasta shapes, or strewn over pizza, accompanied, perhaps, with fragrant wintry herbs, such as thyme or sage.
Unfortunately, I lack the precise culinary knowledge to pinpoint exactly what this tasty meat stuff is, and therefore, for this recipe, I have improvised and used regular supermarket sausages instead, snipping them on the ends and squeezing the pinky flesh from their slimy stockings, and frying gently in a pan.
Gnocchi continues to be my winter comfort food of choice. Truth be told, baking the dumplings is perhaps an unnecessary step, but I am never one to turn down a possibility to bake cheese until bronze and crisp.
For about 3 portions:
500g pack of gnocchi
3 large sausages (I used a fat caramelized onion variety from Tesco)
About 4 tbsp of double cream
A small handful of mushrooms, sliced
A tiny knob of butter
A few sprigs of sage
Salt and black pepper
A very generous grating of Parmesan
Olive oil for frying
Begin by removing the meat from the sausage wrappers, and frying at a medium heat in an oiled pan, gradually breaking up the clusters with a wooden spoon. Add the mushrooms along with the butter, season with a little salt and pepper.
Cook the gnocchi as per the pack instructions. Keep an eye – the dumplings are ready once they rise to the surface of the water. Turn on the oven or grill for baking.
Add cream to the frying pan and a few gratings of cheese. Add a decent amount of sage. I really cannot stress how much sage adds to this dish; it provides a necessary layer of aromatic, wintry warmth. Tumble the cooked gnocchi into the pan, and coat in the creamy, sausage mixture. Liberally grind black pepper over the dish, and grate Parmesan over the mixture.
Add the gnocchi to a baking dish (I put mine in individual, ovenproof ramekins) and bake until the cheese is crisp on top.