Danilo Cortellini

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Radicchio Tardivo and Smoked Ricotta.

Originally from Abruzzo, a small region of Italy that is rich in culinary tradition, Danilo Cortellini’s destiny to become a chef was already decided. Inspired by the landscapes and memories of his hometown; a place that stood next to the highest mountain in central Italy, Gran Sasso, the Adriatic coastline, and thriving farm industry, the ingredients of Danilo’s first experiences in the kitchen were always fresh, abundant and seasonal. 

Before arriving in London in 2010, Danilo travelled throughout Italy gaining experience with industry icons such as Giovanni Rana and at two Michelin-starred restaurants San Domenico in Imola and Perbellini in Isola Rizza. While in London, Danilo jumped straight into challenging roles at three Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester and Knightsbridge’s Zafferano before being offered the position of Head Chef at the Italian Embassy in London allowing Danilo to get back to his roots where food was about trying to recreate a sense of comfort and home: the very essence of what had sculpted his early aspirations.  In 2015 Danilo entered MasterChef: The Professionals fighting his way to the top and ranking as one of the finalists.

 

Serves 4 
Preparation time: 50 minutes
Cooking time: 90 minutes

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 small bunch of parsley, chopped

  • 20g butter

  • 20g grated Grana Padano cheese

  • 20g smoked ricotta (salted ricotta will work as well)

  • 1 shallot, chopped

  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the radicchio:

  • 2 radicchio tardivo 

  • 100ml balsamic vinegar

  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil

  • 15g sugar

  • 4g crushed garlic

  • Salt and black pepper (to taste)

For the gnocchi:

  • 250g rock salt

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (approx 2 kg)

  • 160g  00 flour

  • Salt to taste

As the sweet potatoes are rich in water, cook them in the oven. Rinse thoroughly and place the potatoes in a baking tray over the rock salt.


Bake at 160 for about 1 hour (until they are soft and well cooked, depending on the size). Once ready let them cool down a couple of minutes then peel from the skin and crush them straight away with a potato masher. Now pass the mash through a fine sieve to obtain a smooth puree. If too watery let the puree drain in a fine sieve for a few hours (even overnight). 

Knead the potato puree with flour and a pinch of salt until smooth.  Add a little extra flour if it is still too wet. Cut small pieces of gnocchi dough and with the palm of your hand, roll the gnocchi out while dusting it with durum flour.

 

Then proceed to cut the gnocchi with a spatula. Put the gnocchi on a baking tray, dust with flour and set aside.

Prepare the marinade for the radicchio. Whisk in a bowl the balsamic vinegar with oil, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper.

Wash the radicchio under cold running water and shake off any water left between the leaves. Cut and set aside a few beautiful raw leaves to use as garnish.

When dry cut each “head” of radicchio in half lengthwise and brush them with abundant marinade, leave it aside for 20 minutes to marinate.

Arrange the radicchio halves cut side down on the preheat barbecue and cook them for 5 minutes each side until the stalks tenderised a bit (you still want a bit of crunchiness!). Let them cool and chop roughly.

Sweat the chopped shallot in a large pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Once caramelised add the chopped radicchio.

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 2/3 minutes until they start to float. Drain and gently put the gnocchi in the pan with the radicchio. Add a ladle of the cooking water to the pan, add a knob of butter and stir on high heat until creamy. Remove from the heat and add a spoon of grated Grana Padano.

Plate the hot gnocchi in pasta bowls, garnish with a few leaves of raw radicchio and chopped parsley and finish off with shaved smoked ricotta.
 

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