Semolina Gnocchi (Gnocchi alla Romana)
Why This Recipe Works
Most recipes for these Roman-style dumplings call for stirring semolina flour into a hot liquid and cooking it much like polenta to make a batter, or dough. This mixture is then spread out into a thin layer and allowed to cool before being cut into rounds, which are shingled in a baking dish, topped with cheese, and baked. We found that the key was getting the ratio of liquid to semolina right. Too loose and the mixture took a long time to set up, and even then cleanly cutting out the dumplings was difficult. Plus, the gnocchi fused together in the heat of the oven. A mixture made with 2½ cups of milk and 1 cup of semolina was stiff enough that we could shape the dumplings immediately—no need to cool. And instead of stamping out rounds, which wasted much of the semolina mixture, we simply portioned dumplings straight from the pot using a measuring cup. Refrigerating them before baking allowed a skin to form on the outside of each dumpling, ensuring that they held their shape and could be lifted out of the dish cleanly to be served individually. An egg provided binding power and, along with a little baking powder, lift.