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Jan 24, 2018
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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The Weekend Project: Gnocchi

June 22nd 02:06pm, 2016

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Several weeks ago, we had the pleasure of attending Pastaria Nashville chef Josh Poletti’s Dorm Room Dinner at 33 Wine Bar. The meal was spectacular, but a gnocchi dish served in a clarified pork stock with shaved country ham reminded us how much we loved the simple, elegant French gnocchi.

French gnocchi are actually far easier to make than their potato-based Italian counterpart. Unless you have an Italian grandmother at your elbow correcting your rolling technique, you will make thousands of dumplings before you achieve a texture as light and airy as this joy of the French culinary world.

 

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French gnocchi are made from choux pastry dough, the butter-flour-egg base used for many like eclairs and profiteroles. For gnocchi, the dough is rolled, then cut into little pillows and gently parboiled. From there, they can be finished in skillet with butter or oil until they achieve a glorious brown crust. Crispy on the outside, light and airy on the inside, they have a delicate chew that pairs well with a simple seasonal saute of whatever you find at the farmers market.

 

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This month’s project took inspiration from Poletti’s dish and played with these French dumplings using Japanese flavors. To season the dumplings, we replaced the salt in the gnocchi with miso paste and served them in a rich mushroom stock with fresh bok choy and roasted mushrooms. A simple dish made elegant by technique and fresh ingredients, this Japanese nod to French cuisine will please the pickiest Parisian.

 

The Shopping List*
3 lbs. shiitake mushrooms
3 celery stalks
2 carrots
1 large white or yellow onion
1 large leek
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 to 2 Tbsp. dried mushroom seasoning**
3 Tbsp. shiro (white) miso paste
4 eggs
2 Tbsp. minced chives
4 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 8-oz. package enoki mushrooms
2 to 3 small heads bok choy

*This list assumes you have butter, garlic, flour and salt at hand in your kitchen. If not, you’ll need to purchase those items, too.
**Available at Penzeys or Asian markets

The Gameplan
Day 1: Make the mushroom stock. Make the gnocchi.
Day 2: Make the soup.

 

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Mushroom Stock
About 4 quarts

3 lbs. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
3 celery stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 white or yellow large onion, quartered
1 large leek, sliced in half lenghtwise and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 to 2 Tbsp. dried mushroom seasoning**

Day 1: Separate the stems from the mushroom caps. Quarter the one-third of the caps; reserve the remaining two-thirds for the Japanese Gnocchi and Mushroom Soup (Recipe follows.). Place the remaining caps and stems in a large stockpot with the celery, carrots, onion, leek bay leaf, thyme, tomato paste and salt.
• Cover with 5 quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim any gray residue off the top, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently 30 to 40 minutes.
• Place a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl and strain the broth. Discard the solids. Rinse the sieve, line with paper towels or cheesecloth and strain the stock again. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

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Japanese French Gnocchi
6 cups

1 1/3 cup water
½ cup unsalted butter
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. shiro (white) miso paste
2 cups flour
4 eggs
2 Tbsp. minced chives

Day 1: In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring the water, butter and salt to a simmer over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and the water starts to bubble, add the miso paste and whisk.
• Return the mixture to a simmer, add the flour and vigorously stir with a wooden spoon. The dough will pull away from the pot and form into a ball. Lower the heat to medium and continue stirring constantly until the flour smells toasted and the miso paste is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. The dough should have the texture of Play-Doh starting to dry out.
• Place the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer and let rest 30 to 45 minutes.
• Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
• With the mixer running on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing in each egg thoroughly, then add the chives. Beat until the dough is silky and pliable, 1 to 2 minutes.
• Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Flour your hands and roll a piece of dough into a sphere the size of a golf ball, then roll into a rope ½ inch thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Repeat with the remaining dough.
• Working in batches, add 20 to 25 dumplings to the boiling water, taking care not to overcrowd the pot. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until the gnocchi rise to the surface. Gently remove with a slotted spoon or spider and transfer to a plate to dry and cool.
• Cover the parboiled gnocchi and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

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Japanese Mushroom and Bok Choy Soup
Inspired by a recipe from Pastaria’s Josh Poletti
6 servings

6 cups Mushroom Stock (recipe above)
4 Tbsp. grapeseed oil, divided
1 garlic glove, smashed
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
2 lbs. sliced shiitake mushroom caps (reserved from Mushroom Broth)
1 8-oz. package enoki mushrooms, trimmed
2 to 3 small heads bok choy
6 cups Japanese French Gnocchi (recipe above)

Day 2: Bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium, cover and simmer to keep warm.
• In a large skillet over high heat, add 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil and garlic, swirling until the garlic is fragrant, 10 seconds. Add half the shiitake and enoki mushrooms (enough to cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer), then sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and saute 1 to 2 minutes, until they start to brown. Remove and set aside. Add another tablespoon grapeseed oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt.
• Reduce the heat to medium-high and add another tablespoon grapeseed oil. Add half the gnocchi and saute until browned on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the skillet, add the remaining tablespoon grapeseed oil and repeat with the remaining gnocchi.
• To serve, remove the stems from the bok choy and discard. Evenly divide the leaves and the mushroom mixture between 6 large serving bowls. Add 1 cup gnocchi to each bowl, then cover with 1 cup mushroom stock.

** Available at Penzeys or Asian markets.

-photos by Michelle Volansky

 

By Anne Marie and Dan Lodholz

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