Sunday, June 19, 2011

In the Kitchen - Gnocchi with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

I don't know about you, but one of my favorite Italian dishes is gnocchi - sort of like potato dumplings. I was craving them this weekend, so I decided to try to make them at home. I didn't realize how easy they are to make, but I do have to warn you that it's a bit time consuming. So put on your apron, pour a glass of wine, and be prepared for a delicious meal!
For the gnocchi:
1.5 lbs russet potatoes, scrubbed (about 3 large potatoes)
1 cup all purpose flour (it may actually take about 2 cups)
1 large egg yolk, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
For the mushroom sauce:
1 lb sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup brandy
1/4 cup butter (or less)

First, you need to bake the potatoes. Preheat oven to 400F, wash potatoes and pierce them in several places. Bake for about 1 hour or until soft. Take out of the oven and peel - russet potatoes are very easy to peel after baking, so make sure you do that while they are still hot (and don't burn your fingers). Smash the potatoes on a flat surface (a baking sheet or a big plate) and let them cool a bit.
Transfer to a large bowl and add 1 cup flour. Toss them around until coated well. Add the egg, salt and nutmeg in the center of the mixture, and stir with fork until evenly moistened. Transfer mixture onto lightly floured surface. Knead until dough comes together, and feel free to add more flour if dough is very sticky.

 And now, the fun begins! Form dough into a ball and divide into 4 pieces. Roll each piece between hands and surface into 3/4-inch-thick rope. This will feel very funny on your hands and is a lot of fun to do! Once you have the ropes, cut them into 3/4-inch pieces. Don't pile pieces on top of each other, but spread them around on the surface or on a baking sheet. You don't want them to stick together.

In the meantime, get a big pot of slightly salted water and when it starts to boil, dump the gnocchi into the water. Work in batches - you don't have to cook all of them at once, depending on the size of your pot. They will cook really fast and will start floating on the surface. Stir occasionally, and carefully transfer gnocchi to a bowl using a slotted spoon. The gnocchi are cooked!

Now, on to the creamy mushroom sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the mushrooms and onions. Saute over medium to high heat until mushrooms begin to brown - about 10-12 minutes. Add the whipping cream and the brandy, boil until sauce thickens - another 5-8 minutes. Pour it over the gnocchi and mix well. And voila! My tongue was definitely doing the happy dance!

Do you have any favorite restaurant dishes that you've tried cooking at home?

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