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Chef Kathryn Ferries

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Buffalo Ricotta Gnudi with Smoked Ham Hock, Summer Squash, Corn and Herbs

Kathryn Ferries is the North America Area winner of the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility. 

18 September, 2020
Average: 3.7 (19 votes)

Season & Occasion

serves for


total time

2 HR 0 MIN


Ham Hock Broth
Smoked ham hock
2 lbs
10 l
Cinnamon sticks
2 pieces
Star anise
6 pieces
1 tablespoon
Fennel seeds
1 tablespoon
Medium, peeled and sliced
6 sprigs
Vegetable oil
1 tablespoon
Gnudi Dough
Buffalo ricotta
500 g
Egg yolks
Gouda cheese
1 oz, finely grated
White flour
¼ cup
3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon
Lemon zest
to taste
to taste
500 g
Corn Puree
Corn kernels
750 g
Unsalted butter
200 g
to taste
Pickled Pearl Onions
Red pearl onion
250 g
Sherry vinegar
100 g
Red wine vinegar
100 g
Coriander seeds
1 tablespoon
Fennel seeds
1 tablespoon
Black peppercorns
1 tablespoon
250 g
55 g
8 g
Patty pan squash
10, cut into ½ or ¼
Lemon zest
Edible flowers
Mirco herbs

This dish represents some of Ontario's best summer produce and can become your new summer dinner party staple as most of it can be made in advance. It is a versatile recipe and malleable to change with the seasons, and takes on new flavours very well.

Ham hock is often overlooked or deemed challenging for a home cook to use, but it is a cheap, tender, delicious piece of pork, typical of Ukranian cuisine, that can be added to so many dishes, from hearty soups and stews, to pasta fillings and sandwiches. The dish can also be easily turned vegetarian, and change with the seasons to keep the vegetables fresh. It takes a heavy Slavic staple of potatoes and cheese wrapped in dough and lightens it, updating the ingredients, and creating a new way to look at Slavic food.

Step 01

smoked ham hock Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

For the smoked ham hock

Peel and slice a medium onion. Sauté in a large stockpot (big enough to hold your ham hock) with 1tsp oil until soft. Toast the dry spices over low heat in a small pan until fragrant, add to the stock pot. Add the ham hock and add 10L of water or more to cover, making sure the ham hock is submerged.

Add the fresh herbs and bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to simmering and cover. Let cook for 1 hour or until tender.

Carefully remove ham hock from stock, set aside to cool slightly. Drain stock though a fine mesh strainer, removing the spices and herbs but reserving the liquid to cook your gnudi in.

When the hock is cool enough to touch, start pulling the meat off the bone, discarding the skin and excess fat. You can then keep the pieces large or pull them apart for a more shredded meat texture.

Chef tips: You can make the ham hock and broth ahead of time. To reheat the ham pieces, reserve some stock and bring back up to temperature in that, or alternatively, give a quick saute with some butter in pan before plating.
Smoked ham hocks are sold by a good quality butcher shop and are even found in most supermarkets these days. Make sure to get a smoked hock as it adds a nice depth of flavour to the dish, as well as takes less time to tenderise as it is already fully cooked.

Step 02

the gnudi dough Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

For the gnudi dough

Drain the buffalo ricotta through a cheesecloth or thin linen to remove any excess moisture. Place in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix gently until a dough forms: it should be able to be pressed together and hold its shape without crumbling. If your dough is too wet and sticky, add additional breadcrumbs to absorb moisture. If you find your dough is too dry and crumbly, add an extra egg yolk to moisten.

Step 03

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Spread the semolina on a tray lined with parchment paper. Using a small spoon or ice cream scoop, portion out a gnudi into your hand (aim for about a tablespoon of dough at one time). Roll the dough between your palms to create a ball, then flatten ever so slightly to make a disc. Place on the semolina lined tray and cover all sides with a thin layer of semolina (you can flip it around the tray to get covered). Repeat for all the dough. Reserve in the fridge, covered, until planning to cook.

Chef tips: You can make the gnudi dough and portions up to 24 hours in advance; they will keep well in the fridge. Any longer though, and the semolina will start to draw out moisture from your dough making it tough and dry. The larger you make your gnudis the longer they will need to boil and the more chance of them breaking apart. Keep them small and make extras to enjoy.

If you cannot find buffalo ricotta, use regular ricotta instead. You will need to make sure you drain the ricotta well as it tends to have more moisture. If you have the time and space, you can let the ricotta drain overnight in your fridge under weights.

Step 04

the corn puree Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

For the corn puree

Bring a small stockpot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add in your corn kernels (fresh or frozen), and cook until soft but not overdone. Meanwhile, cube up your unsalted butter and keep cold in the fridge. Set up a blender and a fine mesh strainer. Once your corn is cooked, drain from the water and immediately place in the blender.

Start on low and slowly add cubes of butter to the corn, while it is blending. It should emulsify and thicken the corn puree. Turn up the speed once all the butter has been added to create a smooth texture. Strain the puree through the fine mesh strainer and you should be left with a beautiful, silky corn puree. Adjust the salt as needed.

Chef tips: If you 'break' your puree, don’t panic, butter will reset in the fridge. Let your puree cool down completely and re-blend. You will need to gently reheat the puree for plating.

Step 05

the pickled pearl onions Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

For the pickled pearl onions

In a small saucepan combine the vinegars, sugar, water, salt, and spices and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 20 mins to infuse the flavours. Strain out the spices and keep warm.

Remove the skins from the red pearl onions and slice into ¼. Add the pearl onions to the pickling liquid and bring back to a boil. Remove from the heat and reserve for plating. The onions can stay in the pickling liquid, it will help soften the onions and deepen the colour. The onions can be made long in advance, especially if you seal them in sterilised jars.

For plating, remove the onions from the liquid and separate out the petals. They should be a beautiful purple/ruby colour. You can always use white pearl onions instead, but the colour will be less vibrant.

Step 06

baby squashes Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

For the garnish

Look for small summer squashes to start appearing at your local farmer’s market or stores during July. Choose firm baby squashes in a multitude of colours, cut them in ½ or ¼ depending on size. If they have the blossoms still attached, keep them. They would be a great addition to the dish or for another snack.

Quickly blanch your summer squash in lightly salted water, approx. 3-4 mins. They should hold their shape and still be firm.

Step 07

Edible flowers Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

For the basil, herbs and edible flowers: if you have a garden pick your own or choose a local farmer’s market.

I chose patty pans, basil, and marigold flowers from Bower Farm (Ottawa, ON); wood sorrel and violas from Acorn Creek Farm (Carp, ON); and basil flowers and fennel flowers from the restaurant’s back garden (Stofa Restaurant, Ottawa, ON).

Step 08

Cooking gnudi Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Cooking gnudi

Bring the reserved ham broth to a simmer, adjust the salt as needed. Remove your gnudis from the fridge and dust off any excess semolina.

When the broth is simmering, add them gently to the pot. Using a long spatula, move them about the pot ensuring they do not stick to the bottom. The liquid should be simmering enough to keep them moving.

Once the gnudis float to the top they are cooked. Remove them gently from the broth and toss in melted butter.

Step 09

Plating Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 


While the gnudis cook, reheat your garnish (ham hock, zucchinis, corn puree). Have your herbs and flowers clean and ready.


Step 10

Pating gnudi Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

Serve warm, using the corn puree as your sauce for the dish.

Step 11

Buffalo ricotta gnudi

Courtesy of Sarah Farmer 

The final dish. 

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