Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mushroom Gnocchi Fricassee with Sage

Recently I got the urge to make gnocchi. I don't do this often, and I had a fool-proof recipe to use whenever that urge should strike. It is a messy business, much like making pie dough, which I dislike doing because of the mess. Some people love to make pies and do it almost exclusively. I love pie, but to make one I have to really be motivated. That's why I generally go for making cakes. To me it is much simpler.

Back to the gnocchi. I had seen an episode of The Chew where Mario Batali made gnocchi and there was some discussion on the use of egg in making gnocchi. Some purists say there should never be egg in gnocchi and others claim the opposite. I had only made the no-egg kind of gnocchi, relying on properly baked potatoes and cooling and such. In this particular case, I opted to give the egg a go and see how they might come out. 

Mushroom Gnocchi Fricassee with Sage
And then, how to serve them? With a sauce? Just sauteed, with some bread crumbs over top? I have made tomato sauce in past, or just buttered with Parmesan and they were great. This time though, I was making a new recipe for a pork tenderloin using sage leaves, and wondered what might taste best with a strongly flavored pork dish. My husband used to love a mushroom fricassee dish long ago, and I had always meant to get into trying something out in that vein. Like many things, it sort of went by the wayside, but I had bought dried mushrooms so I would be ready to reconstitute and make this dish. Unfortunately, many years have gone by. I still had the mushrooms though.

My decision was to make a wild mushroom (dried and reconstituted, as there are no such exotic things as chanterelles, morels or lobster mushrooms found fresh up in these parts) fricassee, and toss in the gnocchi with more sage. Ultimately, the dish was fabulous. The strong favors of all the mushrooms went superbly with the pork tenderloin which was strongly flavored with sage and prosciutto. A true match made in heaven. If you love mushrooms and have access to dried mushrooms, this recipe is one to go for. If, even better, you have access to fresh wild mushrooms, whatever assortment you might like, I would suggest at least a pound or 1 1/2 pounds of fresh mushrooms for this dish.

Mushroom Gnocchi Fricassee with Sage
Serves 6 to 8
Mushroom Gnocchi Fricassee, served

14 to 16 ounces russet or Idaho potatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk

1.25 ounces dried assorted wild mushrooms
     (I used 1/2 oz. lobster mushrooms, 1/2 oz chanterelles, 1/4 oz morels) 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream

Set the dried mushrooms in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover and allow them to reconstitute for at least 30 minutes.

Scrub the potatoes and bake them in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 50 minutes or until they are tender all the way through. They must be baked, without wrapping in foil or anything that might trap moisture. Moisture is the enemy in making gnocchi. Remove from oven and remove the skins. Rice the potatoes and allow them to cool completely without mixing them, as this would compact the potato and the starches will become gluey. 

Gnocchi dough, ready to roll and cut
Combine the two kinds of flour (if cake flour is not available, use only all-purpose flour). Once potatoes are completely cooled through, add in one-half of the flour, with the salt and the egg yolk. Stir gently, tossing, rather than mixing too roughly at first. If needed, add in a little more flour. Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead the mixture together until it holds together to make a dough that is not too sticky, adding more flour only if needed. This is a balancing act, as too much flour will make the gnocchi heavy and dense, while not enough flour will have the gnocchi fall apart and disintegrate in the cooking water. 

Have a pot of boiling, salted water ready to test the gnocchi. Roll out the gnocchi dough, 1/2 of the dough at a time, into long ropes about 3/4 inch in diameter. Cut the gnocchi in about 1 inch lengths. If desired, the little gnocchi may be rolled against the tines of a fork to leave a ridged design, though this is unnecessary. Test one of the gnocchi in the boiling water. If it keeps its shape, cooks through, and floats to the surface when done, then proceed with the remaining gnocchi. Boil them in batches without crowding the pot, for about 2 minutes per batch. Once done, scoop them out with a colander or a slotted spoon into a bowl.

Add caption
While the potatoes are cooling, make the Mushroom Fricassee. Drain the mushrooms and keep ready. Over medium heat, add the butter and oil to a large skillet, and add in the onions. Sprinkle the salt over the onions while cooking. Saute until golden and then add in the reserved mushrooms, the garlic and sage and cook for about 3 minutes, until fragrant (left photo, at right). Add in the vermouth or wine and cook (right photo, at right), raising heat if necessary, to evaporate the alcohol almost completely. Add in the heavy cream and lower heat, cooking slowly for about 15 minutes. Add in the reserved gnocchi and toss well. Serve immediately.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.