Giant stuffed gnocchi in mushroom cream sauceMarch 07, 2014
Charlie and I travelled to Italy a couple of years ago to attend the beautiful wedding of some friends. The wedding took place in the city of Cortona in Tuscany with the celebration continuing in Trasimeno in Umbria. We had the pleasure of spending the week preceding the nuptials exploring the countryside of the two regions and making the most of the amazing food!
One of the dishes that rendered us both speechless (astounding for Charlie given that it was vegetarian!) were the stuffed gnocchi we ate at a small trattoria in the back streets of Cortona. Even though we were only in Italy for a week we committed the cardinal sin of revisiting the restaurant rather than exploring something new- just because of these gnocchi!
This is my attempt to recreate them:
Ingredients: (This made enough for four people)
For the gnocchi- use the recipe from the Fried Gnocchi with Peanut Pesto
For the stuffing-
A little bit of butter for frying
1 lb chestnut mushrooms
5 cloves of garlic
A handful of fresh parsley
A drizzle of truffle oil
Salt and pepper
For the cream sauce-
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp all purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Make the gnocchi as the recipe above directs. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge while you make the stuffing.
Finely chop or grate the garlic and add it to the butter in the pan. I am forever burning garlic so I find it best to put the garlic and butter in a cold pan onto a cold hob then turn it to the desired heat. As the pan heats and melts the butter it is infused with garlic gently, by the time the butter is melted and gently sizzling the strong zing of garlic will have mellowed and you can add your other ingredients. Finely chop your mushrooms and add these to the pan also, fry on a medium heat until they have browned ever so slightly then turn the heat right down and allow the mushrooms to release their juices, stew in them then absorb them. This slow cooking of the mushrooms will intensify the rich flavour so you can get away with a small amount in each gnocchi piece.
When all the mushroom juice has been reabsorbed into the 'shrooms turn out the heat and set the pan aside. Take a scoop of about a third of the mushrooms out of the pan and add to a new clean frying pan.
Finely chop the parsley and add to the original mushroom pan along with a drizzle of truffle oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Leave the parsley-ed mushrooms to cool.
Heat the pan with the un-parsely-ed mushrooms in until they begin to sizzle, shake over the flour and stir in until even distributed. Splosh in the white wine and let it reduce by half, pour over the cream, stir in then turn the heat right down and leave to thicken and mull for about 20 minutes. Before serving, blend the sauce until it it smooth and velvety.
To make the gnocchi, instead of rolling and cutting into chunks, roll out the dough as you would pastry then use a cookie cutter to cut out circles. I used a martini glass (still not quite stocked up on gadgets yet!) about 12cm in diameter.
Place a teaspoon of mushroom stuffing into the center of each gnocchi circle then fold so that the edges meet. Should you need to, use a little water to seal the edge although gnocchi dough is stickier than traditional pasta so this may not be necessary.
You can either cook the fresh gnocchi or freeze them. Cooking from fresh will take not much longer than 2 to 3 minutes, you can tell they are done when they float to the surface and bob there.
To freeze, arrange the gnocchi on a cling filmed tray and set in the freezer. Once lightly frozen, transfer them to a pot or container, by freezing them on a tray first it stops them sticking together.
To cook from frozen simple drop them into boiling salted water, they will take about 6-7 minute to thoroughly cook, the more stuffed they are the longer. They will bob to the surface when done but check they are cooked through by sticking a fork into the underside then touching the fork to your lip to test the temperature.
Serve three large gnocchi with a good glug of cream sauce per person and taste a little bit of Tuscany.