Going through my old recipe book, I stumbled upon this delicious dish – true comfort food, Italian style! An amazing entree where soft and creamy potato bignès, covered in nutty poppy seeds and deep fried are laid to rest on a bed of braised leeks and Taleggio! The dish is absolutely simple to make and a guaranteed success. The only challenge lies in finishing the two components more or less at the same time.
This recipe has been adapted from La Cucina Italiana (November 1997, page 58).
For the sauce
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 big leek (or 2 smaller ones)
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk (for the sauce)
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream (for the sauce)
- 10 oz (300 g) Taleggio cheese (for the sauce)
- salt to taste (for the sauce)
For the bignè
- 1 small Russet potato (250 g)
- 1/2 cup (50 g) flour
- 1/4 cup (50 g) butter
- 1/4 cup (50 g) water
- 1/8 of a teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup poppy seeds
- 2 cups (0.5 l) olive oil for deep-frying
- Boil the potato. Let it cool until lukewarm.
- Meanwhile, start preparing the sauce.
- Slice the leek in thin rings (fig. a) and sauté them in butter for 10 minutes (fig. b).
- Add the milk and cream (fig. c), and stew slowly for 30-45 minutes until thick (at that point take off the heat but keep warm).
- While the sauce cooks, start preparing the bignè.
- Put the water and butter into a small pan (fig. 1) and bring to a boil (fig. 2).
- Add the flour and stir constantly (fig. 3).
- Keep the mix on the heat until sizzling, and the mix detaches itself from the pot (fig. 4).
- Move the mix into a bowl, let cool.
- Add the egg and salt (fig. 5). Mix (fig. 6).
- Mash the potato with the ricer and add it to the mix (fig. 7).
- Mix everything until smooth, then stir in 1 Tbsp of poppy seeds (fig. 8).
- With your hands, make walnut-sized balls, roll them over poppy seeds until completely covered (fig. 9). You should be able to make 8-10 of them (fig. 10).
- Deep fry the bignès in olive oil (fig. 11) keeping the temperature at constant 180 degrees Celsius.
- When golden-brown, remove balls and put them to dry onto paper-towel (fig. 12).
- Finish preparing the sauce by adding the diced Taleggio to it (fig. d). Stir until the cheese melts completely. Adjust the salt.
- Serve the bignè while still hot on a bed of sauce.