I had sauce leftover from braising oxtail. That's where dinner starts.
I had taken the braising liquid - stock, crushed tomatoes, carrots, and celery - and cooked it down with the last couple scraps of meat left from the oxtail, periodically mashing the vegetables as it all cooked down to the consistency of tomato paste. A few bits of rosemary went in as seasoning.
Well, I could put it on fresh baked bread, I thought, but hadn't made bread, and the oven has been braising a piece of beef shin all day, for dinner tomorrow.
It's the kind of thing that would be good on gnocchi, but I had used up my potatoes on a failed attempt at rappie pie (attempting to use a juicer to yield the nice dry potato solids that are the starting point for rappie pie had created only murky potato juice and no solids at all) and a gratin dauphinois.
Okay, so no gnocchi. But what about gnudi, which uses cheese (and sometimes greens) instead of potato? (The gn in gnocchi and gnudi is pronounced like the gn in jalapegno popper, not like in Gary Gnu.) I'd never made them. I'd never even eaten them. Sounded like a good Tuesday night plan.
Gnudi are pretty easy. A little fiddly but not a big deal. I eyeballed the dough to accord to the roughly 8 ounces of ricotta I had, so you want to check a real recipe, probably. But what I did was -
Beat 1 egg and 1 egg yolk.
Add roughly 8 ounces of ricotta, 1/2 cup grated hard cheese (mostly parmigiano, some aged gouda), and I think a little less than 1/2 cup flour. I seasoned it with a little oregano and a little smoked paprika, but the oregano comes through stronger than I'd like, and maybe herb flavors should be left to the sauce.
After chilling the dough until dinner, I floured my large cutting board and rolled the dough into logs, which I cut into bite-size pieces. (They'll expand quite a bit in cooking, doubling in size.)
Heat a pot of water, and when it boils, add the gnudi. Let them simmer for four minutes. Meanwhile, brown a pat of butter in a small non-stick pan. When the gnudi have cooked, remove them one at a time with a slotted spoon and add to the hot butter pan, cooking for another 2-3 minutes until a little browned.
Sauce with oxtail tomato paste. The gnudi are light, kind of fluffy, like dumplings. The sauce is rich and savory. It all works out.