Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato Gnocchi with Porcini Mushroom Broth

I will freely admit that gnocchi intimidates me. I've read too many horror stories of the difficulty of making gnocchi, so it remains one of the few dishes that seems worth it to me to eat out at an Italian restaurant. Over the break, I resolved to give it a try. The Hazan book has a nice long introduction and detailed steps, so perhaps it's time.

On Friday, I ran across a post on foodgawker that seemed too good to pass up. Gnocchi made of sun-dried tomatoes and ricotta with a morel mushroom broth and gorgonzola foam. The photos were beautiful. I decided this might be an easier first attempt with gnocchi as it didn't involve potatoes (and I think I was right). The gnocchi was good, but the mushroom broth was outstanding. I didn't have morel mushrooms, so I used porcini. The broth is simple to make, so I can see it being used with fresh fettuccine or dumplings. My only disappointment with this recipe was the gorgonzola foam. Some of these were likely user error (The pot I saved for it was too small. I started using the immersion blender so it foamed well before the cheese was melted and the milk heated. I removed it from heat, realized my error and tried to melt the cheese into the milk and transfer the dish to a larger bowl, but then I couldn't get it to re-foam. Making it again, I might just stick to a thicker gorgonzola cream sauce or skip it entirely as the broth and gnocchi are good enough to stand of their own.)

This recipe comes together surprisingly quickly. The gnocchi and foam can both be made while the broth is coming to a boil and simmering.

Other changes to the recipe besides the use of porcini and gorgonzola foam failure were using plain sun-dried tomatoes (without herbs) because they're so much cheaper. I added herbs to the mixture. I also messed up and added the flour into the food processor with the rest of the ingredients and then required extra flour when hand mixing the gnocchi dough. I might try it the proper way next time, but doing everything at once in the food processor did make life easier!

One Year Ago: Another sun-dried tomato recipe ... although what was I doing cooking with fresh cherry tomatoes in January?? Red Pesto Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Cheese

Sun-dried Tomato Gnocchi with Porcini Mushroom Broth (adapted from 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures)

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup flour
mushroom broth
2 cups stock (I used chicken)
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
salt, pepper to taste
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I assumed this meant light)
1 sprig rosemary
Gorgonzola foam (see cautionary notes above)
2 cups fat free milk (I used 2%)
1 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

1. Make broth Grind the dried porcini mushrooms into a fine powder in a spice or a coffee grinder (I used a regular food processor). Place in a pot, along with stock. Bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add mirin, soy sauce and a sprig of rosemary. Continue to boil for a few minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour. Strain.
2. Make gnocchi In a food processor, mix ricotta cheese, egg, and sun-dried tomatoes to blend. Season with salt, pepper, and spices.
3. In a large bowl, stir the sun-dried tomato ricotta mixture with flour. Then knead the dough gently with your hands to form a ball. Sprinkle with a little more flour if necessary. Divide the dough in small balls. Roll each into a thin "rope". Slice into 1-inch pieces and flick them with a fork.
4. Boil water in a large pot to boil. Salt and add the gnocchi. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the gnocchi float to the top. Drain gently.
5. Make Gorgonzola foam (see caution notes above) Place milk and Gorgonzola cheese in a small saucepan over medium heat. Start whisking the mixture and continue to whisk fast until the foam starts to form at the top (can also use the immersion blender). Do not allow the milk-gorgonzola mixture to boil. After enough foam has formed, take the saucepan off the heat, an continue to whisk until the amount of foam has doubled.
6. Assemble Ladle the desired amount of porcini mushroom broth onto each plate. Arrange the gnocchi all around and carefully spoon the Gorgonzola foam on top of the gnocchi.

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