Sunday, November 21, 2010

When Inspiration Strikes

So, I found myself on my own.  Friday night and with the freedom to go anywhere I wanted, I naturally ended up at...  Market of Choice (also known as Mecca to me).  And because I had a VISA gift card burning a hole in my purse, I was looking around for things to pick up for Turkey Day.  But instead, I ran across this...

Yes, a real live, honest-to-goodness Oregon truffle.  And right next to that...

Mmmm.  Chanterelles.  Luckily no one was close enough to hear the little joyous gurgling sounds.

I had also snagged a can of organic butternut squash puree, and soon the wheels started turning.  I snapped up a very nice, very fresh Dungeness crab (another one of the absolute joys about living in Oregon).

All Saturday I plotted and planned, and as soon as I could, I put my plan into action.  First, I decided to tackle gnocchi.  Not something I've made before, although I've cooked with the packaged variety plenty.  This is definitely not a mid-week project.  Took me a good couple of hours to put it all together, but I had enough to make two meals (I took the finished gnocchi I didn't use, spread it out on a baking sheet, and froze them, then threw them in a freezer bag).

Butternut Squash Gnocchi
adapted from

1 12- to 14-ounce russet potato, peeled, quartered
1 cup pureed butternut squash
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (or more) all-purpose flour

Cook potato in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. While potato is warm, press through potato ricer into medium bowl (I didn't have a ricer, so I pressed mine through a strainer, and it worked just fine); cool completely. Measure 2 cups (loosely packed) riced potato (reserve remaining potato for another use).

Mix squash, potato, Parmesan, egg, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl. Gradually add 1 3/4 cups flour, kneading gently into mixture in bowl until dough holds together and is almost smooth. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls. Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead gently but briefly just until smooth. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.

Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Sprinkle parchment lightly with flour. Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll dough out on floured surface to about 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut rope crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll gnocchi along back of fork tines dipped in flour, making ridges on 1 side. Transfer gnocchi to baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour (oops - didn't do this, either). DO AHEAD Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

After I started a large pot of salted water to a simmer, I started my sauce.  Add gnocchi individually to simmering water and allow to cook 15 - 17 minutes.  Even if the gnocchi float to the top of the water, continue to cook for the recommended time.

Crab and Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 lb. fresh Chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 shallot, diced finely
1/2 bulb roasted garlic (cut top off of bulb, drizzle with olive oil, wrap tightly with foil and bake in a 400º oven for 25 - 30 minutes)
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 pint of half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Meat from a 1 lb. Dungeness crab
Freshly shaved truffle (optional)

Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan.  When butter starts to sizzle, add shallot and cook until it becomes translucent.  Add mushrooms and roasted garlic and season with a little salt and pepper.  Cook and stir until mushrooms are tender.  Deglaze pan with white wine.  When liquid reduces by half, add half and half and Parmesan cheese.  Add chopped parsley and crab and stir to combine.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.  Add cooked gnocchi straight from pot (a bit of the liquid from the pot will help thicken the sauce).  Carefully stir in gnocchi.  If the mixture is too thick, add more half and half or wine.  Allow to simmer a few minutes until it is of the desired consistency.

Top with freshly shaved truffle.

I think next time I will also include some cubed and roasted butternut squash for a bit more color, but I will have to say this was just really, really tasty.

1 comment:

  1. Your gnocchi look great! I think they have fantastic form :)