Makaruni.  Sounds funny right?  Well, it is.

One of the most exciting things about food is the endless number of recipes, flavor combinations, and weird little dishes out there to feast on.  Yes it is fun to have favorite go-to recipes, but I find it especially satisfying to execute something new and then savor the delicious results.

Which brings me to makaruni.  A cross between gnocchi and dumplings, makaruni is the Croatian counterpart to the Italian gnocchi.

I was drawn to the recipe because it did not involve any machinery but your good ol’ hands.

I attempted to learn more about this unusual dish, but all searches from the internet to my Larousse Gastronomique led me to dead ends.

What I can tell you about this recipe is:  it is easy to make, requires only simple ingredients, involves no tricky steps, is extremely luscious, and with no fancy gizmos required, you have no excuse not to make this yourself.

Makaruni with Black Truffle Cream Sauce (Istrian Gnocchi)

Serves 4

Adapted from Gourmet May 2008

Note:  The original recipe calls for truffle butter.  Truffles are not in season at the moment, they are easily found in the fall, so I used black truffle oil instead.  Black truffle oil can be found at most grocery stores or specialty food stores.  Feel free to use truffles or truffle butter during truffle season.

Uncooked makaruni can be formed (but not cooked) 1 hour ahead and kept, covered by towel, at room temperature.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 to 1/3 cup water

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon black truffle oil

1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Sift flour on a mound on work surface and make a well in the center.  Add egg, salt, olive oil, and 1/4 cup water to well and mix with a fork, gathering flour gradually into egg mixture to form a dough.  If the dough seems dry, add additional water (up to 2 tablespoons).  Knead on a lightly floured surface, incorporating enough flour to keep from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Let dough rest for 5 minutes on work surface.

Quarter dough.  Working with one piece of dough at a time (keep remainder covered with plastic wrap), roll dough between palms to a 6-inch-long log.  Once each quarter in rolled, cut each log into 8 or 9 small pieces.  Roll each piece between palms into a 3-inch-long log that is 1/4-inch thick in the center, tapering to 1/8-inch thick at the ends.  Transfer to flour covered kitchen towel (not terry cloth).

Cook makaruni in a large pot of boiling salted water until cooked through, 15-18 minutes.

While makaruni is cooking, heat cream and butter over low heat until butter is melted and well combined with cream.  Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper and truffle oil.

Drain makaruni and add to cream mixture along with cheese.  Toss to coat well in cream sauce and cook for 1 minute.  Serve with additional parmesan if desired.

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