I’ve always loved gnocchi. I love the richness, the flavor, and the texture. I’d never really thought of making it, though, until a recipe popped up randomly on my computer. (If you have Windows 8, you know this kind of stuff happens.) I decided to take a stab at it for our Valentine’s Weekend dinner and found a recipe in Marcus Samuelsson’s book, “New American Table”. I didn’t follow it exactly, of course, but pretty close. The sauce I made was a bacon mushroom cream sauce. Combined, these two are awesome!
First, select a couple pounds of Yukon gold potatoes. These are great because not only are they higher in nutritional value, they’re also oh so creamy, which is exactly what you need for gnocchi.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While that’s warming wash and dry the potatoes and prick them several times with a fork. When the oven is heated put the potatoes directly on the rack and let them bake for an hour. When the skins are a little wrinkly and a fork easily slides into the potatoes, they’re ready. During the last ten minutes put about six unpeeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet and throw them in the oven, too.
Take them out and let them cool for a bit. After the potatoes have cooled enough to handle you can either peel them or, like I did, cut them in half and scoop out the insides so you can make potato skins. If you’re going to do this, turn the oven up to 425, so while the potatoes are cooling the oven is getting hotter. Spray the potato skins with butter or olive oil spray and put them skin side down on a baking sheet. Cook for ~10 minutes. Then turn them over and cook for another 10. Once these are cool enough to touch you can put them in the refrigerator or freezer for use at a later time.
Back to the gnocchi. Put the scooped potatoes in a mixing bowl. Cut the rough end off of four of the garlic cloves and squeeze them into the bowl. If you’ve got a stand mixer, lucky you, because you’re just going to start it on speed 2 and let it run. You want the potatoes and garlic to be smooth with no lumps at all.
Next, add two egg yolks, a dash of nutmeg, and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I used Portuguese Salt Cream for its sharpness, but kosher or other sea salt will work fine. Mix this until blended. Then add about a cup of flour. It should look and feel a bit like bread dough, but don’t overdo it. I under-did it and had to add more flour later. Marcus recommends wrapping the dough in plastic and letting it sit for twenty minutes. Because I didn’t add enough flour the first time I’m not sure this step mattered much.
When you’re ready to roll fill a bowl with ice water and fill a pot with water and a splash of oil. Go ahead and put the water-filled pot on a burner set to high. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface. Divide your dough in half and then start rolling with your hands. It will magically turn into a long rope, so keep going until it’s about a half an inch in diameter. Dip a fork in the flour, just like you would with peanut butter cookies, and press the tines all along the rope. Then cut them into bite size pieces and put on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flour.
At this point your water should be boiling. Drop the gnocchi in a few at a time so the pot’s not overcrowded. They’ll sink to the bottom and you’ll know they’re done when they float to the top. They won’t look done, but trust me, they are! Take the floaters out with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl of ice water. Once they’re all done dump them in a colander to let them drain. They’ll just chill out while you’re making the sauce.
Take out two skillets. In one you’re going to heat the gnocchi and give it a little crispness, so sprinkle some oil in the pan.
The other skillet is for the sauce. Take one strip of bacon and cut it into small pieces. Render it in that skillet and remove it with a slotted spoon once it’s done. Melt about a tablespoon of butter in the bacon grease and then add half an onion, finely diced. Once the onions are translucent add 8oz of sliced mushrooms and cook until they’ve released their juices and have turned a darker color. Remove the onions and mushrooms, leaving as much of the grease, butter, and liquid as you can in the pan.
Next you’re going to make a roux. Add about a tablespoon of flour to the pan and stir for a minute or two. Pour in about a cup of chicken broth and stir until it gets bubbly and thickens. Then add some half and half or milk and stir until thickened. You should have two of those roasted garlic cloves left, so dice them up and add them to the pan. When it’s thick enough throw back in the mushrooms, onions, and bacon, turn the heat to low, and warm through. You can also add some salt if you like, but with the bacon you may not need any.
While the sauce is thickening heat up your other skillet to about medium. If you’d like you can add some diced garlic, but be careful because garlic burns easily. After you’ve added the mushrooms, bacon, and onion to the sauce add your chilled gnocchi to this skillet. You’re basically just warming it up and adding a little texture, so you don’t need to cook them long. Heat them on one side for about a minute and then turn over. Some of them may stick to the pan, especially if you’re using an iron skillet. If they do, that’s quite alright.
When the gnocchi’s done put them in a bowl, pour the sauce over the top, sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese, and dive into decadence!
- 6 yukon gold potatoes
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- dash nutmeg
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 slice bacon, diced
- 1/2 onion, finely diced
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup (or so) half and half
- salt to taste
- shredded parmesan cheese