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Archive for Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Just-right sauce caps off tasty gnocchi dish

January 7, 2009

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Re-creating a restaurant meal is not easy.

For one, a lot of chefs don’t give up their secrets. And chances are that when a chef uses an ingredient like chicken, beef or veal stock in a recipe, it’s been made from scratch at the restaurant. Making stock (the strained liquid of cooking meat and vegetables in water) is not always convenient for the home cook. And there are some good brands of stock readily available in most stores anyway.

Recently, I had one of those restaurant meals where I could have used bread to soak up every last bit from the plate. This week I tried to re-create that recipe, which is featured below.

The description of the dish at the Angelina Bistro in Detroit went like this: Gnocchi with Grilled Oyster Mushrooms, Caramelized Cipollini Onions and Peas with Basil Cream.

If you’re not familiar with gnocchi (NYOH-kee), it’s the Italian word for dumpling. Gnocchi are 1-inch pasta-like pillows usually made with flour, cooked and mashed potatoes, eggs and salt. We found Meijer brand gnocchi that was about $3.50 for a 1-pound, 9-ounce bag. That is plenty to feed six with.

Wild mushrooms have a hearty, earthy taste and are a perfect match for the gnocchi. If using portabellas, be sure to remove the dark gills so they don’t darken the sauce. If using shiitake mushrooms, remove the tough stems.

Gnocchi with wild mushrooms and basil cream

1 pound, 9-ounce package frozen gnocchi

6 ounces oyster mushrooms

6 ounces baby bella mushrooms, dark gills scraped off

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped

1/2 pound frozen pearl onions (substitute 1 medium sliced sweet onion)

1/3 cup white wine

1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 cup half-and-half (can use fat-free) mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup chiffonade of basil

1/3 cup shredded Italian blend cheese or Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the gnocchi according to package directions, about 3 minutes. They are done when they float to the top. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, and transfer to a serving platter. Keep warm.

Lightly rinse mushrooms and slice into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Set aside.

Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 1 minute; do not brown.

Add pearl onions and continue to saute until they start to become tender and turn golden in color. Add the mushrooms. Cook until they release their juices and are tender, about 8 minutes.

Remove all the ingredients from the skillet and toss with the gnocchi.

To make the basil cream: Keep the skillet over medium heat and add the white wine. Deglaze by scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Stir in the chicken broth and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half/cornstarch mixture over medium heat. Don’t have the heat too high or it will curdle. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the peas; cook 1 minute. Stir in the basil and cheese and heat through until the cheese melts. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi mixture and serve immediately. Serves 6.

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