Friday, April 24, 2009

Gnocchi with Mushroom Sage Ragu

Gnocchi. Not as hard as you think.

Last weekend, I was flipping through the May issue of Bon Appetit (the "Travel the US" issue) when I came across a recipe for gnocchi. A perfect recipe for Meatless Monday, I thought. Then I noticed there was something a little strange about the recipe. For one thing, there was no picture. That's not enormously weird, after all only about half of the recipes in any given magazine have accompanying pictures. What was weird is that instead of a picture of gnocchi, there was a picture of a wine bottle and the words "EXPERIENCE ARGENTINA." This was not a recipe in Bon Appetit, this was an Argentinean wine advertisment. I was more than a little bit disappointed because I had gotten myself all psyched for making gnocchi. I looked around online for a different recipe, but then I decided it could be a little experiment to see how good the recipes are in random advertisments. Besides in tiny print in the corner it said "Recipe created by Bon Appetit Chef de Cuisine Jonathan Lindenauer for Trapiche," and he was wearing a chef coat and, according to the internet, he's an actual CIA grad even if his hair could use some work. So yeah, I made a recipe from an advertisement. And it was damn good.

Eat Rating: Absolutely awesome. It's a little heavy, so definitely break it into four or five servings.
Difficulty: Medium. The recipe calls for a potato ricer. I'm not even sure I know what that is (See Annie, I don't know everything). Instead I used the food processor.

From Trapiche adverstistment in Bon Appetit, May 2009

2 lbs russet potatoes (that's about 4-5 medium-sized ones)
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup olive oil
4 cups wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 tbsp minced fresh sage
2 tbsp mince shallots
1 cup white wine (predictably they recommend Trapiche Torrontes. I used Chardonnay)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake potatoes on a bed of kosher salt for 45 to 50 minutes (I have no idea what the kosher salt is supposed to do except make a mess). Let cool a few minutes so you don't burn your fingers then, while still warm, halve the potatoes and scoop out the flesh. Pass the flesh through a "potato ricer" if you actually know what that is. If not, stick in the bowl of food processor and pulse a few times until the potatoes are mashed up. In a large bowl, add the egg yolks and spices to the potatoes and mix until thoroughly combined. With your hands, add the flour to the potato mixture. It will form a dough. You'll know it's ready once it no longer sticks to your fingers. Transfer the dough to a generously floured surface, then roll into a 3 inch thick log. Cut the log into eight pieces. Roll out each piece of the dough on the floured surface until you get a 1/2 inch thick tube. Cut up the tube crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces, about the size of a large cashew. You don't want them to be too big because they will expand some when boiled. Let dry at room temperature for 20 minutes. You can make the sauce while they sit.

Heat a large saucepan and add oil. Add the mushrooms and without stirring, cook for 7 to 8 minutes. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add the sage and shallot and cook for one more minute. Add the white wine and cook until the wine has reduced by about half. Add the cream and simmer until reduced to sauce consistency, about 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the gnocchi and continue to boil. The gnocchi is done when it floats to the top of the pot, about 1-2 minutes after added. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the pot. Pour sauce over gnocchi. Garnish with parmesan and parsley. Eat immediately. Makes 4-5 generous servings.

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