Homemade Gnocchi with Chanterelles
Do you know gnocchi?
According to the American Heritage Dictionary (and Wikipedia) gnocchi (N'YO-kee) are "...small dumplings made from semolina flour, bread, or potato."
Oh my--what an uninspiring definition of such a heavenly creation. Today I made potato gnocchi for my daughter's birthday--tender, light as feathers little puffs gently simmered in water and then briefly sautéed in butter and olive oil with mushrooms and herbs.
Many cookbooks (and Italian grandmothers) will tell you to start with russet potatoes, boil them in their jackets, allow to cool slightly, peel, dice, rice, mash..............I'm exhausted just thinking about it!
Maybe Italian grandma can always get it right, but I've found that a potato isn't always a potato. Some are more or less starchy. And when are they properly "done"? A bit too firm and your gnocchi will never be soft and creamy. Cooked too long and they will absorb the cooking water and become tough and rubbery or fall apart.
So I use mashed potato flakes. They are consistent--always the same and my gnocchi turn out perfectly every time.
Equipment You Will Need
- Large mixing bowl
- Hand-held mixer (not mandatory, but certainly helpful)
- Parchment paper
- sharp knife
- Large pot for cooking the pasta
- Skimmer or Asian kitchen spider
- Large sauté pan
Ingredients for Potato Gnocchi
- 1 1/3 cups instant mashed potato flakes
- 1 1/3 cups boiling water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- Place the mashed potato flakes in a large mixing bowl and cover with the boiling water. Stir just to moisten and let sit for about 10 minutes.
- Add the salt and 2 eggs and beat on low speed with mixer until smooth. Add the flour and beat just until the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth. Don't overmix--this makes the gnocchi tough.
- Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each one, one at a time, on a clean work surface* into a rope about the thickness of your thumb. Using a sharp knife cut 1/2-inch thick slices from the rope of dough. ( *I roll my gnocchi out on a large piece of parchment paper)
- Next, roll each piece against the tines of a fork--this creates the characteristic grooves and help the sauce cling to gnocchi. To cook them, drop your gnocchi into simmering (not boiling) water--no more than about 20 at a time. They are done when they bob to the surface.
- Remove the gnocchi with a skimmer and place on a clean towel.
But If Time is Short
There is another method you can use to form your gnocchi. It won't give you the characteristic grooves, but it's much faster than the pat, roll, and cut method described above.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat.
- Lightly spray the inside of a pastry bag with non-stick cooking spray (such as Pam). Do NOT place a decorating tip in the pastry bag--use just the bag and coupler.
- Spoon your potato gnocchi "dough" into the pastry bag.
- With one hand gently squeeze the bag to gradually force the potato dough to the tip of the bag. With your other hand cut off the dough with a sharp knife. Continue to squeeze and cut, allowing the dough to drop into your pot of water.
- Using this method you can form and cook your gnocchi very quickly and without added flour.
Ingredients for Gnocchi with Chanterelles
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 pound bacon (or turkey bacon), chopped
- 1/2 pound chanterelles, sliced
- 1/4 pound cremini (button) mushrooms
- 1 batch cooked gnocchi (see above)
- 1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons wild huckleberries (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
Assemble the Gnocchi with Chanterelles
- Sauté onion and hazelnuts in a large pan with butter and olive oil until the onions become translucent and hazelnuts begin to turn golden brown--be careful, they burn easily. Remove from pan and set aside.
- To the same pan add bacon; saute for 5 minutes. Then toss in chanterelles and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until mushrooms are tender and bacon is crisp about 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked gnocchi and reserved onions and hazelnuts to the pan and continue to stir (gently) until the gnocchi are heated through and the juices from the mushrooms have reduced a bit.
- Stir in the heavy cream and continue to heat gently for another minute or two or until sauce thickens.
Sprinkle huckleberries and rosemary on top and serve.
How to modify this recipe
- Don't have or don't like hazelnuts? You could use walnuts or pecans.
- Chanterelles are a seasonal fungi. If they are not available, substitute oyster mushrooms, cremini, shitakes, or a mix. To make a very special meal, you could also include some reconstituted dried porcini mushrooms.
- Wild huckleberries abound in my garden, but perhaps not where you live. Feel free to substitute dried cranberries, or even white raisins.
© 2013 Linda Lum