Friday, April 24, 2009

Magically Mushroomed Gnocchi

I have been cooking my way through the April edition of Saveur, which focuses on 12 super fabulous restaurants, each offering up a recipe. Last night I made my version of the Truffled Gnocchi with Peas and Chanterelles, the recipe that was ponied up by the Slanted Door in San Francisco.

First, I used chanterelles, morels and porcini mushrooms. Chanterelles tend to be on the chewier, tough side (but delicious), so I thought a couple softer mushroom types mixed in would balance out the texture. Worked pretty well. Also, I used dried mushrooms and reconstituted them — cheaper and easier to find, and you get to keep the left-over mushroom water for future soups or rice dishes (if you throw this out, I think the culinary police arrest you and eat your children and pets).

Second, I used spinach instead of peas. With all the woody, earthy taste I added with the morels and porcinis, I thought it sounded more appropriate. I just saw a comment on the Saveur Web site by a reader who said she used asparagus tips. Genius. I'm going to try that next time.

Thirdly, I added garlic. Mushroom cream sauce without garlic should be a punishable offense, but if you don't happen to like garlic and want to exclude it, no worries. The chef at Slanted Door didn't use it either.

Also, the magazine thinks I should make the gnocchi from scratch. Life is far too short for that kind of absurdity. You can buy vacuum sealed gnocchi almost anywhere. I bought mine at Trader Joe's — the ingredient list was all food, no chemicals, so it's just like making it myself, right? The only problem with this blatant cheating is the the "truffled" part of the recipe occurs when you make the gnocchi with truffle oil. I MacGyvered this by drizzling truffle oil over the cooked gnocchi before adding the mushroom sauce. Seemed to work pretty well.

This is the Slanted Door dish (Saveur, April 2009; photo by Andre Baranowski):

This is mine (clearly, I used more mushrooms, yum):

Here's the equipment you'll need:

A big pot to boil the gnocchi
A small pot to reconstitute the mushrooms
A 12" skillet or similar high-sided pan to make the sauce
Sharp chopping knife or cheater machine
Slotted spoon
Stirring spoon


Gnocchi — I bought two 17.6-ounce packages and doubled the sauce recipe.
Truffle oil to drizzle

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
10 oz. mushrooms, preferably chanterelles, roughly chopped (or a blend of your choice)
2 cups heavy cream
3⁄4 cup peas, fresh or frozen (or any veggie that sounds good to you)
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. finely chopped chives
1 to 3 garlic bulbs, finely chopped

What to do:
Reconstitute the mushrooms in as little warm water as possible - just enough to not quite cover them.
Drain mushrooms (save the mushroom water!)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
While that's heating up, heat olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat.
Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown, about 5 minutes.
Raise heat to high and add cream, the veggie you chose, thyme and garlic.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until cream reduces by half.
Season with salt and pepper and remove skillet from heat.
Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook until they float, about 2 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer gnocchi to plates
Drizzle truffle oil over gnocchi
Cover gnocchi with mushroom sauce
Add chives and toss to combine

Wear a chef hat when you make this. The recipe is very easy, but the resulting dish will make you feel like you might really have a chance at winning Top Chef.

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