Yuca Gnocchi with Manchego Bechamel

  • Water for boiling
  • Salt
  • 2 pounds yucca, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1 large Russet potato
  • 3 cups cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of white pepper
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6 large eggs
  • Cornstarch for dusting.
  • Butter
  • Chives for garnish

Makes 6 servings 

Place the yucca in the salted water in a pot that accommodates it comfortably, and bring to the boil, over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 40 minutes. Add the potato, and cook until both are soft, about another 20 minutes. Drain.

Rice the potato and yucca together, while hot, onto a baking sheet, and let cool. When cool enough to handle, move to the bowl of a standing mixer (Kitchen Aid), and with the paddle attachment, add the cornstarch, a third at a time, as well as the salt, pepper and nutmeg, until the mixture resembles course sand. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating one before adding another.

Form the dough into a ball, and cut in half. Set the other half aside, covered by a damp towel. Dust your work board with cornstarch, sparingly, making sure to dust your hands, as well. Divide your half of the dough into thirds, and roll out each third to a rope of about ½ inch thickness. Cut the ropes into 1 inch pieces with a pastry scraper or a sharp knife.

When your three ropes are all cut, roll each piece into a ball in the palm of your hand (do half of the dough at a time, or the dough will dry out). Holding a fork in you left hand, place a little ball of dough onto the fork, indent with your thumb, and roll it off the fork, leaving the tine marks on your gnocchi. Place on a baking sheet that has been covered in plastic wrap. When your three ropes are done (you should have about 110-120 pieces), cover them with plastic wrap and place in the freezer, until you are ready to cook them.

Place the gnocchi in boiling salted water, and stir so they do not stick to the bottom. About 3 minutes after dropping them, stir again. You will notice some of them float to the top, after 2 minutes more, stir again, and they should all be floating. Remove them with a wire spider onto a clean towel lined baking sheet.

Transfer the cooked gnocchi into a large buttered baking dish and add the béchamel. Sprinkle with Manchego cheese and run under the broiler until golden brown and bubbly. Garnish with chopped chives.

Manchego Bechamel

  • 5 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 whole shallot
  • 2 cloves of whole garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup AP flour
  • 3 ½ cups whole milk
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of red pepper
  • 1 cup of grated Manchego cheese, plus ½ cup for topping
  • salt to taste

Over a medium low flame, melt the butter and soften the shallot, the garlic, and the bay leaves until fragrant. Whisk in the flour, lower the heat and cook the roux without coloring for about 4-5 minutes.

Raise the heat to medium and whisk in the milk. Using a flat bottomed wooden spoon (so you can reach the corners of the pan), stir the bechamel continuously until it turns satin and silky. It will take about 45 minutes for the flour taste to cook out of the béchamel, so be prepared to exercise patience. Once the sauce has thickened, add the nutmeg, the pepper and whisk in the Manchego, until it melts completely into the sauce. Check for salt.

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