If ever there is/was a better bowl of pasta than the classic carbonara then I'm yet to find it! Smokey pancetta, soft runny and moreish eggs, pasta (in this case gnocchi) and Parmesan cheese. Imagine a bowl of this gnocchi carbonara, curled up on the couch with a glass of wine, candlelight (because the wife likes that sort of thing!) and your favourite (hers) TV show. How good does that sound 😉 It's hard not to love it. It's potato pasta and I'm an Irishman!
What Is Carbonara
The basic/simple description of carbonara is "a pasta dish made up from eggs, bacon or ham and grated cheese". That's it, in a nutshell, but truthfully there is WAY more to good carbonara than just that. There are 100's of variations on the interweb and I myself have made them too. Most of us think using eggs in our sauce alongside things like cream, mushrooms, peas, onions and maybe even some chicken too is carbonara. Truthfully, what makes a good carbonara is its simplicity and just cooked runny eggs. Read on and see how I make mine!
How To Make Homemade Gnocchi
Having just said that carbonara is all about simplicity and there are 100's of variations out there, here I am adding my twist and variation to the world wide web! Mine comes in the form of gnocchi carbonara. I'm still keeping the sauce/components simple and true to the original just the "pasta" element is different.
Gnocchi is really quite simple to make and if you follow these simple instructions (or buy some shop bought stuff) you will be sorted.
Cooking The Potatoes
Start by cooking the potatoes - this can be done by boiling, baking, steaming or microwaving. Having spoken to my good mate Cory (who makes gnocchi all the time) he advised microwaving for speed and efficiency. Baking is another great option and produces light and fluffy results but it's defo more time-consuming. Steaming & boiling are my least favourite ways as water is known as the enemy of gnocchi so anything potentially adding water to the potatoes I steer clear of!
Once the potatoes have been cooked and cooled the next step is to add the flour. Place the potatoes on a clean surface, add salt & eggs (if using) and the flour. Don't add all the flour in at once. I added 3/4 of it in initially and gradually added more. You don't want the gnocchi to be over doughy by adding too much flour or sticky/wet by not enough. Once the dough is smooth and pliable roll it into a ball and cut the ball into 4 pieces
Shaping The Gnocchi
This is the fun part and where you can get the whole family involved! On a well-floured surface, roll the ball into a long sausage shape - a little bigger than a cm thick. Then using a knife cut them into 1-2cm pieces.
If you have a gnocchi board then gently roll the gnocchi down the board to create the gnocchi shape. If you are a cheapskate like me grab a fork from the kitchen drawer. Starting at the top gently press the gnocchi against the prongs and roll it down towards the tips of the prongs. This creates nice indentations on the gnocchi which will catch all that glorious carbonara sauce in this epic gnocchi carbonara recipe!
Once rolled, place the gnocchi on a floured baking tray. You can cover with clingfilm or a cloth and leave them to sit at room temperature for up to 2 hours or in the fridge for 4-5 hours. After this, you should freeze the gnocchi.
The best way to do it is to place it on a baking tray (making sure they are separated) and straight into the freezer uncovered for about 3 hours. Once frozen you can store it in a freezer bag. When cooking frozen gnocchi cook it straight from the freezer or else they will all stick together when defrosting.
Moores Hill Winery
On my recent (a little over 2 years now!) trip to Tasmania, I had the pleasure of visiting a number of wineries throughout the island. Moores Hill was one that stood out amongst the others. Firstly, their wines were all top drawer and even though I have drunk a number of them I still keep going back for more!
Aside from the wines, it was the hospitality and ethos of the winery that stood out to me. They are Tasmania's 1st "off the grid" winery. Upon entering with the overly whiney 18-month-old we felt at home immediately. Friendly staff (it was Fiona the owner who did the personal tasting) who were super welcoming, a beautiful and authentic feeling tasting room, child-friendly dogs and views to die for too! I knew the second I tasted my first wine it was going to be hard not to leave with a wine club subscription and a 6 pack of wine!
Gnocchi & Chardonnay Wine Pairing
So as you can guess we are showcasing wine from Moores Hill in Tasmania today. Their chardonnay, probably my favourite white grape and of their wines too. In fact, I brought this chardonnay to a local tasting club and it was the pick of the night and someone ended up buying a case of it too!
I wanted something homely feeling on the food front to showcase the wine. Something that can warm you up now that winter is looming in the Southern Hemisphere. So a luxurious, creamy (with no cream in it) gnocchi carbonara came to mind. Who doesn't like a big bowl of pasta to warm them up?
Moores Hill Chardonnay - the past vintages have all been rated highly by Mr Halliday, in fact, the 2017 and 2018 vintages were earmarked as "ones to watch" and "exceptional value" for what they were. Having had a few of those vintages and the latest I can concur the quality is/was epic! Peach, nectarine & grapefruit were the fruit notes I got, a gentle kiss of oak coming from a little old and new French oak. The acidity is generous which tells me this wine will age nicely and the finish is long and dry.
Gently oaked chardonnay works great with richer dishes and/or cream-based sauces so the richness in the eggs and egg yolks and the fat coming through from that fried pancetta made this gnocchi carbonara the perfect pairing for this elegant approachable Chardy!
FAQ's & Tips On Gnocchi Carbonara
many recipes you see online call for cream but the truth is there is enough fat and richness in the eggs that you don't need the cream. I add an extra egg yolk to my sauce for that extra luxurious finish!
carbonara as it stands isn't vegan friendly but gnocchi can be easily made vegan friendly by omitting the egg in the recipe and using a splash of olive oil instead
in this recipe, I used smokey pancetta but streaky bacon, speck or even leftover ham works wonders too
don't add the eggs directly to the heat. remove the pan from the heat and add the eggs into the pan and stir. the residual heat from the pan/pasta will cook the eggs for you. also, adding a splash of the gnocchi/pasta water to the egg mix will help bring the eggs up to temperature so they don't get "shocked" and scramble when added to the pan.
Alternative Recipes & Moores Hill Pairings
Inspired by this simple gnocchi recipe and can't get enough of Moores Hill wines? Then check out these other dishes I've created to pair with their wines
Happy Cooking & Happy Eating Friends!!
- 4 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 400 g pancetta (14oz) cut like thick cut bacon about ½ - 1 cm thick
- 1 kg potatoes
- 1.5-2 cups flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 egg yolk
- Wash the potatoes and prick multiple times with a fork
- Microwave until fork tender – approx. 10-20 minutes (size dependant)
- Peel the potatoes and mash using a potato ricer
- Add pinch of salt, egg yolk & combine
- Add 1 cup of flour and combine. If dough is too wet add more flour gradually
- Once dough is ready then divide it into 4 pieces
- Take each piece and roll it out into a log about ½- ¾ “ thick.
- Cut the gnocchi into ¾ - 1“thick pieces
- Using the back of a fork, roll the gnocchi pieces down towards the prongs of the fork. This helps form indentations which will help coat the gnocchi in the sauce later
- Get a pot of salted boiling water ready for the gnocchi
- Dice the pancetta into matchsticks and crush the garlic
- Mix together the eggs, pepper & parmesan – set aside
- Fry the pancetta until crispy – approx. 4 minutes, remove most of the excess fat leaving about 1 tbsp behind. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute
- Boil the gnocchi in salted water and once floating remove and add to the frying pan with pancetta – toss to combine and remove from the heat
- Add a couple tbsp of the pasta water to the egg mix and pour the mix into the gnocchi frying pan – the residual heat in the pan will cook the eggs gently rather than scrambling them!
- Finish with grated parmesan, black pepper and sprinkle of thyme
- hopping board
- chef knives
- potato ricer
- frying pan
- mixing bowl
- shop-bought gnocchi can be substituted for homemade
- swap out pancetta for bacon lardons or speck
- NEVER add the eggs to a hot pan as they will scramble – always remove from the heat and gently fold into the gnocchi
- gnocchi can be stored (covered) at room temperature for 1-2 hours or covered tightly in the fridge for 4-5 hours. Alternatively, freeze them on a baking tray – spread out so they don’t stick together