It wasn’t raining when we left the house, walking the dog to our Saturday play-date. It started pouring when we were about a hundred yards from the school where we meet up with our dogs. It kept going whilst play was going on. It continued to fall all the way back home. Breakfast gnocchi to the rescue.
Years ago on a visit to Ketchum, Idaho (the resort is Sun Valley, the town is Ketchum) we wandered into Christina’s. It was Sunday morning during slack, or “shoulder” season and business was slow. I ordered my usual omelet of some variety, Annette ordered the morning’s special of Breakfast Gnocchi. I’ve been trying to recreate that experience ever since.
Prep Your Station
Christina’s mix used (my foggy brain recalls) full-size gnocchi, sausage, pancetta, green and red pepper, onions, cheddar (or maybe Parmesan) cheese, and scallions added at the last minute. The gnocchi was deeply browned in the sausage fat as were the veggies. The eggs folded in last and kept fluffy, the scallions, bright and crisp, sprinkled over just prior to serving. It was one of those “holy crap this is good” restaurant moments.
My mix for this morning is mini-gnocchi, poblano pepper, slices of oven-dried Roma tomato, half a sweet onion, the end of my Hempler’s ham, and some diced mozzarella. I tasted the poblano, some have been screaming hot of late, and found it very mild so I added a finely diced slice of jalapeno. Break five eggs into a bowl and beat lightly.
Brown the Gnocchi
Some recipes call for boiling the gnocchi first. I used to do that but found it counter productive as it just added water that had to be cooked off for the gnocchi to brown. So now I just pan-fry the gnocchi with a lot of unsalted butter and a couple twists of black pepper. No matter how high the flame or how long I brown, my gnocchi never browns the way Christina’s did.
Sear the Ham
Add the Veggies
Over high heat cook until the onions are translucent and the peppers are starting to brown then add the cheese and mix in well. The mozzarella I’m using pretends to be dry but cooks off a lot of whey and browns nicely against a hot metal pan, so I try to get at least a few crispy cheese nuggets. Add back the browned gnocchi, mix well, reduce the heat and then fold in the lightly beaten eggs. I keep mixing as the eggs begin to set then take the pan off the heat and let inertia finish off the cooking. Don’t overcook the eggs.
There are a million varieties to this meal. Christina’s used regular sized gnocchi and had a greater egg to gnocchi ratio than what I used today. I like using mini-gnocchi because you get a more equal mix of carbohydrate nugget and egg/veggies/cheese/meat. Browning the gnocchi in fat exuded from good sausage, in a generations-old cast iron pan, over a proper flame, improves this (and every other recipe). Using good pancetta adds depth and salty goodness, but this mix is perfectly ok and uses up lots of ends of stuff in the fridge.