2.26.2011

Wild Mushroom and Rosemary Gnocchi

Wild Mushrooms in a warm water soak
To make real good gnocchi it helps to think of the whole experience, from taking a pile of powdery flour and transforming it into soft and doughy potatoey puffs, like a relationship.  To get the very best results, you have to spend some quality time with the gnocchi dough. Get to know it. Listen to it. Care for it and understand what it needs and what you can do to make it happy.  Like most relationships, it might seem like a lot of work but I assure you the results are totally worth all the effort.

To start, discard any gnocchi recipes you have. That's right. Toss them right out the window.  You see, similar to relationships, there is no one set of rules that can be applied.  There's so many variables and I assure you, each batch will be completely different so you shouldn't think you can treat them the same.  Instead, start with the same basic components:  About 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes (I've made them with other varieties too but I think these tend to work the best as well as provide a welcoming golden hue to the dough) 2 eggs at room temperature, a hefty pinch of salt, a little sprinkling of nutmeg and black pepper and the main variable, flour.  When I make gnocchi, I like to set aside a huge bowl of flour because I know I'll need some to add to the dough as well as to keep my work surface lightly floured.


Next, don't try and take the easy and quick road by boiling the potatoes, you don't want to have to deal with any extra water.  Instead, take the time to bake them in 400 degree oven until they are completely done.  Then take them out and as soon as you can handle them without burning yourself, start to peel away the skin.  If you have a ricer this works best (if you don't have a ricer I recommend getting one. Totally worth it). If you don't that's okay too, you can mash them with a masher just make sure that you mash them well leaving no lumps behind.

At this point, you should be staring at a luscious pile of warm mashed potatoes.  Go ahead and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Now give them a little taste.  They should taste pretty good.  If not, season accordingly and then add the eggs to the potato mixture.  By this point, you should be looking at a gooey mess.  Perfect. You're well on your way.  Start by adding a cup or of flour and massage that into the dough.  Once you've combined that initial bit of flour, listen to the dough.  Touch it, feel it. What does it feel like? Is it sticky? Keep adding flour in small amounts and incorporating it well just until the dough is tacky and your hands don't stick to it.  This step might take a while because you'll want to make sure you add the flour little by little so that you'll know just when the dough is ready.  If you get impatient and add too much flour, you'll end up with tough gnocchi instead of light pillows.  On the flip side of that, if you don't add enough flour, you run the risk of the gnocchi not holding their shape when you boil them and they could disintegrate.


Once you've established that your dough is ready, use a bench scraper or a knife to separate a little bit of dough (3 oz. or so) and roll it into a long, even snake.  Using your thumb as a measurer, cut small pillows and rest the little pillows on a floured baking sheet.  You can leave them as little squares or you can go a step further and roll them on the tines of a fork for a more traditional look.

After you've rolled out all of the dough, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add the gnocchi.  Carefully use a spoon to move the water around to loosen the gnocchi if you think they are starting to stick.  Once they float to the top (this happens in a matter of minutes) wait another minute, carefully strain them and then do whatever it is you're going to do with them.  It can be as simple as rolling them around in a pan of butter and herbs or just drizzling some olive oil on them and some shaved Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper.  For this post, I baked them up in a nice red wine tomato sauce and of course, cheese. Lots and lots of glorious cheese.  Additionally, you can add ingredients to the dough as well. I thought I'd shake things up a bit and throw in some wild mushrooms and rosemary.

Baked Wild Mushroom and Rosemary Gnocchi with lots of cheese..
And then it's time to enjoy the results of all your hard work.  It's okay to smile and look at the gnocchi admiringly as you lift that first bite to your lips.  You should be proud and happy and positively smitten with it.  That's the whole point of all the effort right?  The happy, sweet reward.  

13 comments:

Meghan@travelwinedine said...

Gnocchi is indeed worthy of this labor of love! :)

Alicia said...

I agree - Gnocchi takes some time and effort - but the end result is TOTALLY worth it!

The Glamorous Gourmet said...

Looks DELICIOUS and well worth the effort! Perfect with a glass of Chianti Classico:)

Kristy said...

Gnocchi is my weakness, yours looks delicious! I'm sure it was worth all the effort! :)

Elizabeth said...

All these different flavored gnocchi I'm reading about sound great! Mm, rosemary and mushroom.

Mom said...

Wow! These look and sound absolutely delicious!! Great pictures....I am positively drooling!

Eliana said...

I have never made my own gnocchi but you have just inspired me here because these could not look more delicious.

Kerstin said...

Great tip to bake the potatoes rather than boil them - I'll have to do that next time!

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

After making gnocchi for the first time a few weeks ago, I've got to agree that gnocchi is such a labor of love but well worth it!

Melissa said...

Beautiful write-up and photos! I think you're the bloggy queen of gnocchi - these are yet another awesome recipe! (or not a recipe, if we're discarding those :) )

Jen said...

Gnocchi is one of my favorite things to eat, but I've never even thought about making them...

Justin said...

I've never made gnocchi... but mushroom and rosemary gnocchi, now I'm interested. Great job.

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Traditionally, I have had horrible horrible results from gnocchi. And oh the shame since I'm Italian. I can't wait to try your recipe!

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