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Chicken with Potato Gnocchi and Parmesan Cream

05/05/2015 12:18 BST | Updated 30/06/2015 10:59 BST

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I'm handing you a hot potato here as all the experts say you should make the dough for the gnocchi while the spuds are still warm. Cue burned fingers, but they're right, it does produce a lighter result. Mind you, it'd be hard to produce something worse than those solid little bullets you can buy in supermarkets. You know the ones I mean, they sit in your tummy like lead weights.

These are lighter and they marry very well with pan-fried chicken breasts and a Parmesan cream. Normally I would add around 60g of grated Parmesan to the gnocchi but there's plenty of Parmesan in the sauce. I've given the recipe for this sauce elsewhere but I'll repeat it here to save you the trouble of looking it up.

All you need in addition are some fresh greens. I used purple sprouting broccoli as we have lots in the garden at the moment but whatever floats your boat. Asparagus is in season now and would be fabulous with this.

Chicken with Potato Gnocchi and Parmesan Cream (serves 4)

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Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts, skin on, preferably free-range

Oil, butter, salt and pepper

For the gnocchi:

500g potatoes, preferably Desiree

125g plain flour

Pinch of salt

Pinch of nutmeg

1 egg

For the Parmesan cream:

200ml double cream

40g grated parmesan

Plus a few parsley leaves to garnish

Method:

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To make the gnocchi, bake the potatoes at about 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 until soft, then as soon as they're cool enough to handle, scoop out the soft innards. This gives you a drier potato than boiling them, which is useful in this recipe. You can save the outsides to make crispy potato skins.

Put 100g of the flour, mixed with the salt and nutmeg, on a board and rice the potatoes directly on top. Make a well in the middle and break in the egg. (I was making double quantities which is why there are two eggs in this picture.)

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Mix until you have a soft dough that doesn't stick to your fingers, adding more flour if necessary. Don't overwork the dough or your gnocchi will be tough. When it's come together, form into a ball and set aside covered with a tea towel, while you clean your work surface. Re-flour your board and press the dough into a rectangle about 2 cm thick. Cut into strips 2 cm wide and roll into sausages.

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Cut these into 2 cm pieces then if you want to be totally authentic, roll them over the floured tines of a fork, pushing your thumb into the other side, so they're sort of striped on one side and indented on the other. Or just leave them as little pillows. Put them on a tray dusted with flour. If you're not going to use them immediately, dust the tops with more flour.

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They'll hold like this for two to three hours but after that they begin to go a a bit claggy. If you want to freeze the gnocchi, freeze them on the tray for at least an hour before bagging them up. If you're cooking from frozen, do them in small batches because frozen gnocchi will cause the water temperature to drop and they'll overcook if you crowd the pan.

When you're ready to eat, put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add a splash of oil and a bit of butter to a hot frying pan and cook the chicken, skin side down, over a medium heat until the skin is golden brown.

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Then flip over and cook the other side for six or seven minutes minutes or until the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife. It depends on their size. Set aside to rest somewhere warm.

To cook the gnocchi, turn the pan of water down to a gentle simmer and drop in your gnocchi in batches. When they float to the surface, count to 10 then lift them out and drain them, keeping them warm while you do the next lot.

To make the sauce, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, and whisk in the Parmesan and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a minute or two until it's thickened to your desired consistency.

Then stir a little of the sauce into the gnocchi and serve them, sprinkled with parsley, alongside the chicken breasts and your greens. Drizzle a little more sauce over the top and garnish with parsley.

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