Update: It was a great time competing in foodie fights.  In the end I ended up in 5th place.  I want to thank everyone that voted.  With your help I ended up receiving the 3rd most popular votes.   Thanks again.

The time has arrived for my entry into the Foodie Fights Battle. After you check out my creation below, be sure to go look at the other competitors concoctions. After looking at the the other sites, vote for your favorite. You can vote using the poll at the end of this post or at any of the other competitors posts. It doesn’t matter what site you vote on, as all of the forms are linked to the same poll.

The ingredients that were picked for this battle are: Potatoes and Lemons. So I decided to make lemon basil chicken with homemade potato gnocchi.

Savory Lemon Chicken Over Homemade Potato Gnocchi
Savory Lemon Chicken Over Homemade Potato Gnocchi

I marinated chicken in a mixture of lemon zest, lemon juice and various herbs. I then used the same ingredients to make a reduced sauce that the homemade potato gnocchi were served in.

This recipe takes 4 -5 hours to make as the chicken needs to marinate and the potatoes have to be boiled.

Chicken Limone

  • 1 lb of chicken
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/2 pound of spinach
  • 4-6 ozs of Fresh Basil
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper


  • 6 medium Russet Potatoes
  • 1-1.5 Cups of Semolina Flour
  • 1 Egg (slightly beaten)
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg

Start by marinating the chicken in the zest of two lemons, juice of two lemons, chopped basil, minced garlic, white wine and and the extra virgin olive oil.

Lemon Zest Juiced lemons

While the chicken is marinating in the refrigerator start the potatoes on the stove. First clean the potatoes with a brush and then cover them with cold water. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until tender. Depending on the size of your potatoes it should take around 30-45 minutes.

Potatoes in salted water

Once the potatoes are cooked remove them one at a time and peel. Don’t dump the water as you will boil the gnocchi in the same water. Once you have peeled the potatoes run them down the side of a box grater. This can be a tad bit hard as the potatoes are extrememly hot still. I burnt my fingers on all six potatoes. Man did it hurt, but you need to shred the potatoes while they are hot to get the best texture.

I took a break from shredding as my fingers were on fire.  Nice pic though.
I took a break from shredding as my fingers were on fire. Nice pic though.

Once you have all of the potatoes shredded let them cool in a bowl. You need them to get to just above room temperature. That way you can add the egg without scrambling it. I learned that one the hard way. My first batch came out looking like scrabled eggs and hash from ihop.

Make sure to let cool, you don't want scrambled eggs
Make sure to let cool, you don't want scrambled eggs

Once cool add the egg, half of the flour, a pinch of salt and the nutmeg. Fold the mixture together. You don’t want to beat it because you want the potato texture. Once fully incorporated add an 1/8th of a cup of the semolina at a time until you get a dough consistency. At this point you can remove it from the bowl and knead it to form a dough ball.

Dough Ball

Now cut the ball into 4 equal portions. Then roll the portion into a large snake. Once you have a snake that is about a 1/2 inch in diameter, cut it lengthwise into 1/2 inch to 1 inch segments.

Roll into a snake Cut into segments

Now it is time to make the gnocchi. You can purchase a gnocchi paddle, but I prefer a fork. It works just fine. Turn the fork upside down and place directly on a flat surface. Take the gnocchi segment and push with your thumb down the tines. You need to push hard enough to get the imprint of the tines into the dough. Below I have step by step pictures.

Making Gnocchi Step 1 Making Gnocchi Step 2

Finished Gnocchi

Gnocchi sounds like fun, tastes great, but takes forever to make. My thumbs were killing me after making 100 gnocchi. But it was definitely worth it. Once you have your gnocchi rolled out cover with a towel and let rest until you are ready to cook it. Gnocchi only takes a minute to make so it can be one of the last things you prepare. It also will keep for a day or two covered in the refrigerator. So this can all be done ahead of time.

This is what an hour of rolling out gnocchi looks like
This is what an hour of rolling out gnocchi looks like

By this time your chicken has been probably marinating for 3 to 4 hours. This is about the minimum that you would want it to marinate. Like the gnocchi this could be done the day before allowing the marinate to fully penetrate the chicken. Remove the chicken from the marinate and grill the chicken breasts. This could be done in the oven, but I like the flavor that the grill gives to the chicken.

Look at those perfect grill lines
Look at those perfect grill lines

Once the chicken is fully cooked, wrap up the chicken in aluminum foil and let rest. It is sauce time.

To start the sauce, cut up three slices of bacon and add to the pan. Render out the fat and remove the bacon from the pan. Then quickly wilt the spinach in the bacon grease.

MMM Bacon Spinach Wilted Spinach

Once wilted add the marinate from the chicken. Remember this marinate had the raw chicken in it so make sure to bring it to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer till reduced by half.

Bring the potato water to a boil and add the gnocchi in groups as to not overfill the pan. The gnocchi will immediately sink. The gnocchi will rise to the surface when it it cooked. Takes about 1-1.5 minutes to cook. Really fast.

Gnocchi perfectly cooked

When the gnocchi float, remove them with a slotted spoon or spider basket. Place them directly into the sauce. Then add the bacon and halved cherry tomatoes. Remember to fold everything together as you do not want to break up the gnocchi or the tomatoes.

Gnocchi folded into the sauce.
Gnocchi folded into the sauce.

Now it is time to plate. You can cut the chicken into strips and add it to the sauce or plate the gnocchi and sauce and layer the chicken on top. Either way works perfect.

Garnish with a lemon slice, some lemon zest and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

The Perfect Meal
The Perfect Meal


When I first tried this it was awesome! The combination of the ingredients worked perfectly together. The gnocchi had the perfect texture, light, fluffly and melted in your mouth. The sauce with the chicken and bacon was nicely balanced. The next time I might add a 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese or sour cream to thicken the sauce and smooth it out a bit, but it was awesome as is.

Do your part!

Head on over to foodiefights.com to see the other posts and vote for your favorite. You can vote at any of the blogs. All of the polls are linked. Polls close at Noon EST on Wednesday, April 22.

Hope you guys enjoyed my take on potatoes and lemons!!

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. Sorry about that Nina, the polls didn't open till 15 minutes ago at 7 AM EST.

  2. Your dish looks the best to me, but I cannot find the place where I need to vote!!! Am I just being stupid or what!!!!

  3. great looking dish, it looks really fancy but yet so simple at the same time. I hope you win! good luck 🙂

  4. Wow! Very well done post!! Great how-to with photos. nice idea with the gnocchi. We are going to check out the others and vote for you! Best from Santa Barbara, s

  5. As soon as you said bacon, you had me won over. Looks delicious man and glad you put so much hard work and burnt fingers into this!

  6. I definitely prefer your method for gnocchi over the traditional Italian method I tried, the results looked a lot better. Good luck in the fight, and awesome dish!

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