In 2009 Julie Goodwin won the first series of Masterchef Australia and gained a legion of fans for her simple home-style cooking, warmth and sense of humour. Since then, she’s released multiple cookbooks, hosted cooking and radio shows, and launched a cooking school. Her recipes are perfect for home cooks: family-friendly, not too fussy and simple to follow.

All that family-friendly cooking means Goodwin also knows her way around a potato – a skill that will come in handy at the upcoming Robertson Potato Festival in the Southern Highlands on May 4 and 5, where she’ll be hosting cooking demos. Also on the potato’s festival’s program? A gig by classic rock band Dragon, a Neil Diamond tribute show, potato-peeling competitions and plenty of eating and drinking.

To mark her appearance at the festival, Goodwin has shared a potato-based recipe – gnocchi with speck and peas – from her latest cookbook, Classic. You can pull it together in less than an hour, and you’ll probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

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“I learned how to make gnocchi from the lovely Patrizia in Florence,” Goodwin writes. “This is a sticky dough that requires little handling and comes out light as a feather.”

Julie Goodwin’s gnocchi with speck and peas

Serves 4
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
1kg dirty potatoes (Sebago or Dutch cream)
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour, plus extra to work with
1 egg
150g piece speck, rind removed, cut into 5mm batons (see note at bottom)
1/2 cup (75g) frozen baby peas
1/2cup (125ml) thickened cream
Sea salt flakes
Ground white pepper
1/2 cup (40g) grated parmesan

Method
Peel the potatoes and cut them in half if they are large. Try to have them all a similar size so they will cook at the same time. Place in a large pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil.

Boil for 10–15 minutes or until a skewer easily goes into them.

Drain the potatoes, making sure they are very dry. Put the potatoes through a potato ricer or a mesh sieve into a large bowl (it is important that they are mashed very finely). Scatter the flour over the potato, add the egg and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together in a dough.

Flour your work surface and turn the dough out. If it is very sticky, add a little more flour. Gently knead the dough for only as long as is necessary to bring it together into a smooth mass. Roll the dough into a large sausage and cut it into eight pieces. Roll one piece into a sausage about the thickness of your thumb and cut into 2cm lengths. Place the gnocchi onto a heavily floured tray.

Repeat this process with the remaining pieces of dough. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil. Drop the gnocchi in – they will start to bob to the surface in a couple of minutes. Once they are floating, they are cooked. Lift very gently out of the water with a slotted spoon and drain.

Place the speck in a frying pan over medium–high heat. Cook until the fat is rendering out and the speck is starting to turn golden. Tip the gnocchi into the pan with the peas and cream, and toss to coat. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Serve in warmed bowls and top with parmesan.

Note: If speck is not available, bacon can be used instead.

Extracted from Classic by Julie Goodwin (RRP $39.99). Available now from bookstores and online retailers.

potatofestival.com.au