Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Potato Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce

Until a couple of weeks ago I probably would have passed up this recipe thinking it was too complicated.  But for some reason, after watching the Cake/Kitchen Boss, Buddy Valastro, make this dish I thought, "I think I can do that.  That looks pretty easy."  Our special Valentine's dinner seemed like a good time to give this one a try.  I tend to put myself under undue pressure, making recipes for the first time for special occasions or for group gatherings.  I haven't learned.  But thankfully I've had more successes than failures and this was another success.  This dish is not a quick one, but I'm considering making a couple batches of the gnocchi and freezing them for future use.  That would really cut down on the prep time.  The gnocchi are a nice alternative to regular pasta on occasion. 

Let's get to it.     
Put baked potatoes through ricer

You can even leave the skins on.  Before...


Season riced potato and let cool

Cut in egg and flour in batches and form ball

Divide dough, roll out, and cut into gnocchi

Boil gnocchi in batches

Saute mushrooms in oil.  Yummy smells start happening here.

Add in cooked gnocchi with finished mushroom sauce

My handsome Valentine

Try this one.  You'll feel very accomplished.


Potato Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce
adapted slightly from Buddy Valastro (TLC Kitchen Boss/Cake Boss)


3 large Russet potatoes
2 large egg yolks, beaten
1-2 cups all purpose flour (may not use all)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
few gratings of nutmeg (optional)

Mushroom sauce:
1 1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped and trimmed
.07 ounce package dried porcini mushrooms
2 1/4 cups of chicken stock
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons butter
fresh grated Parmesan to garnish

Preparation Instructions


1. Preheat oven to 400°. Prick potatoes and bake until done, 45 minutes to one hour. Remove from oven, and slash lengthwise through each potato, pressing short ends to open to release steam (you want the potatoes as dry as possible = less gummy gnocchi). When cooled enough to handle but still quite warm, scoop out the potato flesh and force through a ricer. Measure out 3 lightly scooped cups (do not pack) and spread out into a rectangle on a clean board or counter. Allow potatoes to cool until warm room temperature.

2. Sprinkle with salt and grate over nutmeg. Drizzle the egg over potatoes, followed by 1/2 cup of flour. With a (metal) bench scraper, begin to lift and fold the potato mixture on to itself, cutting the flour and egg into the potato mixture. When almost incorporated (mixture will begin crumbling), sprinkle over another 1/4 cup flour , and repeat until mixture is in small crumbs. Lightly press the dough together into a ball and move it aside. Clean any sticky dough from counter with the scraper and cover with a light dusting of flour.

3. On the floured surface, lightly press the dough together and fold/knead just a few turns -- dough should be workable with some potato texture and not sticky. Adjust by adding more flour if necessary -- the less flour and handling needed, the more tender the resulting gnocchi.

4. Cut the dough into quarters. On a lightly floured board, roll one portion of dough into a long rope, about 1/2" wide. With the bench scraper, cut 1" pieces of dough from rope and place on a floured sheet pan -- these are your gnocchi.

5. Cook gnocchi at a gentle boil in a large pot of abundant salted water. Gnocchi are done when they bob to the surface and cook about a minute longer. Scoop from water and place in sauce.

Mushroom Sauce:

1. Warm 2 cups chicken stock and pour over the porcini mushrooms in a bowl. Allow mushrooms to soak at least 20 minutes to hydrate. When hydrated, remove the mushrooms, rinse and trim away any tough gritty bits if present. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and set aside. Filter the mushroom soaking liquid through cheesecloth, a paper or tea towel and reserve.

2. Slice the creminis. Heat a large sauté pan medium-high Рyou want it large enough to eventually hold both the sauce and cooked gnocchi. Add the olive oil. When shimmering, add the mushrooms and a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, and allow the mushrooms to exude their juices. Let the juices cook and reduce down until almost completely evaporated. Add the porcini, garlic and red pepper. Continue to cook until well combined, everything smelling fragrant and beginning to dry out.

3. Add 1/4 cup chicken stock.  and let reduce. Add 1/2 cup of the mushroom-soaked stock and let reduce until rich, add in another 1/2 cup stock, reducing again. Stir in the parsley. Taste and check for salt; correct if necessary. Turn off heat if the gnocchi has not yet finished cooking.

4. Meanwhile, begin cooking the gnocchi. Gently scoop the gnocchi as it’s done into the waiting mushroom sauce. Turn the heat to med-high and add another 1/2 cup of the stock, turning gnocchi to coat. If the gnocchi looks like it can absorb more stock, add in a little more -- you don’t want it to become too soft. Fold in the butter. Garnish with grated or shaved Parmesan cheese.

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