Pork Belly Is The Savory Addition Your Gnocchi Is Calling Out For

gnocchi with sauce and pork
gnocchi with sauce and pork - Q77photo/Shutterstock

When there's a plate of gnocchi on the table, you know that good times await. One delicious forkful after another, it seems nearly impossible to get enough of these pillowy soft, sauce-drenched Italian dumplings. The great thing about gnocchi is their endless versatility. These little potato-based bites pair with so many sauces and accompaniments that you're free to get as creative and flexible as you like. For those who want to sprinkle a savory touch onto gnocchi's typical creamy, hearty profile, pork belly is the unexpectedly simple answer, as evidenced by Tasting Table's potato gnocchi with pork belly and sage-butter sauce. After all, bacon is a common ingredient in gnocchi recipes, and pork belly is just one step away.

Pork belly is beloved for its pleasantly savory taste that stems from being marbled with fat. When cooked, the fat renders down and infuses the meat with a delectable richness and hints of caramelization, when it's cooked well. Offset by the gnocchi's more neutral taste, each bite brings a swirl of contrasting and complementary notes. Coupled with a choice of accompanying sauces, from tangy, creamy, sweet, and spicy to countless others, you're not short of options.

And accompanying the marvelous taste are the diverse textures that come with pairing pork belly and gnocchi. You've got gnocchi's signature tender, starchy, slightly chewy al dente bite, amplified by your sauce's moisture and taste. Then the pork belly offers a soft yielding texture, but with crispy edges that add a delicious dimension.

Read more: 26 Types Of Pasta Sauce Explained

Upgrade Your Gnocchi Dish In A Flash

Chinese braised pork belly
Chinese braised pork belly - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

While the gnocchi is cooking, you can brown the pork belly in a pan until it's nice and crisp, which should take around five minutes on each side depending on the thickness. You can add seasoning like salt, pepper, herbs, or spices if you prefer. Once done, transfer the cooked meat to a plate lined with paper towels, slice it into small pieces, and toss it back into the pan alongside the gnocchi when your chosen sauce is simmering.

As for the remaining ingredients, your options are as diverse as can be. You can make a carbonara spin-off with the same sauce as the original recipe, only instead of the usual bacon, guanciale, or pancetta, you've got bite-sized pork belly pieces. Since pork belly is often coated with a glaze, you could make those flavors part of your gnocchi dish as well. With a combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, and other staple Asian ingredients, it imparts a sweet-savory umami taste that brings a unique spin to gnocchi, which is usually served with more Mediterranean flavors.

With a bit more time on your hands, you can even make a ragu gnocchi with the pork belly braised to tender, juicy perfection. Its hearty and robust flavors make heavenly comfort food, perfect for cold nights when you need a dose of rich warmth in your dinner.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.