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Portland Chef Jenn Louis Defines the Italian Dumpling in 'Pasta By Hand'

An exclusive look inside the Portland chef's debut cookbook.

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Oregon chef Jenn Louis — who was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2012 — combines global and Pacific Northwest influences at her Portland restaurant Lincoln. But for her first cookbook, Louis narrows her focus down to a single dish: Italian dumplings constructed sans extruder. Pasta By Hand, out March 24, features more than 60 recipes for Italian dumplings and pastas, plus the sauces and finishes that accompany each dish. In her introduction, Louis acknowledges the vexed definition of what makes a "dumpling" (there's no word for "dumpling" in Italian outside gnocchi, but while all gnocchi are dumplings, she argues, not all dumplings are gnocchi). Ultimately, Louis settles on her own definition, declaring Italian dumplings to be "carefully handcrafted nubs of dough that are poached, simmered, baked, or sautéed."

The "handmade" modifier is crucial: Pasta guru Mario Batali provides the book's forward, writing that the handmade dumpling is one of the many defenses "against the commercialization and homogenization and the subsequent or eventual loss" of old-school food traditions. The book separates each dumpling by Italian region, from Roman-style gnocchi (a recipe borrowed from prolific Seattle chef Ethan Stowell) to the spinach spatzli from the Northern Italian city of Trento; Louis learned the latter from "Gianna, a wonderful home cook" she'd met during her travels to the country.

Pasta By Hand will be published by Chronicle Books and features photography by Ed Anderson. Pre-order on Amazon before its March 24 release date and grab an exclusive preview below:

Lincoln Restaurant

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