Gnocchi {Light fluffy potato pillows with veal, asparagus and truffle butter}

Main Courses | 03/27/2015 | By

The first truly delectable gnocchi I had were of course, in Italy. A close second was a dish that is still on the menu at Il Poggio in Snowmass, Colorado. Light gnocchi pillows, a hint of truffle butter, veal, asparagus, a few tomatoes and a sprinkling of parmesan on top. So this is my version. I chose to use veal rib chops as they are easy to source where I live, easy to cook and when slow-roasted, produce very tender meat. Of course, you can use any topping you wish! A dash of truffle oil or plain butter and ground pepper, for instance. Perhaps a Bolognese sauce. So many possibilities!

Since Il Poggio’s gnocchi dish a few years back, I recently tried what is probably the best gnocchi ever in Tampa’s very own Edison restaurant. If you haven’t been but live in Tampa, what are you waiting for? They were truly divine and inspired me to make my own. Edison’s repertoire changes regularly (depending on season, quality and availability of ingredients) so who knows when/if they will be back on the menu. In any case. Everything they make is to-die-for, but I digress. Back to fluffy pillowy gnocchi …

The key to light gnocchi, is this: Take as much moisture out of the potatoes as you can, do NOT knead or work the dough in any way and use only baking potatoes and flour. No egg. You slice, poke, stab and fold. No pulling and NO kneading! Just checking you heard me the first time ….

The instructions may appear long and cumbersome but in reality they aren’t. I have tried to explain the process of working the four into the potato mass without kneading. Once you get the hang of it, it’s very simple. Read through and if want to see Chef Marco Canora make his gnocchi, look him up on YouTube. He’s a New York Chef whose recipe I have successfully used time and time again to make my own light gnocchi (not the toping).

Gnocchi served, ready to enjoy

Here I have served the gnocchi with more veal.

 

Gnocchi - On plate

This dish is served with less veal, for those who prefer a lighter version.

 

LIGHT FLUFFY POTATO GNOCCHI WITH VEAL, ASPARAGUS AND TRUFFLE BUTTER

  • Time: Gnocchi: 1 hr to bake potatoes, 30-40 minutes to make gnocchi, 2 mins to cook - The veal will take about 3 hours of slow roasting
  • Difficulty: medium
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This recipe will yield 3 to 4 dozen gnocchi: 4 small portions, 3 medium or two large. Keep in mind it is a filling dish.

Once you start working with the gnocchi, you need to be fast and focused so you won’t be able to do much else at the same time. Once the gnocchi are made you can cook them immediately or freeze them. So why not make a very large batch? have some fresh and freeze the rest.

I suggest your work in this order:
Prepare your veal first and set it to one side
Make your truffle butter
Then make the gnocchi
Once the gnocchi are made, immediately put a very large pan of water to boil (unless you are freezing them)
While the water is boiling, lightly roast your tomatoes and asparagus

Essential Tools for the gnocchi:
Food mill (like this one) or ricer with the finest blade/setting
Bench scraper (like this one) – also known as a pastry scraper or pastry blade but a large spoon and very sharp knife can work also
You will also need:
Clean pastry surface (marble, steel, granite – but not your chopping board)
Clean bowl
Baking tin or baking sheet lined with baking paper/parchment
Large pot for salted hot water
Colander

Ingredients for gnocchi:
6 large baking potatoes like Idaho – older potatoes are better as they have less water. Less water = less flour = less flour = lighter gnocchi
3 to 4 cups plain/all-purpose flour

Ingredients for gnocchi toppings:
2 veal rib chops
2 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter) or butter for browning the rib chops
⅔ cup of sweet sherry – more if needed
Sprig of rosemary
1 tbsp of beef bullion paste (or one beef oxo cube)
Parmesan
8 asparagus
2 dozen grape tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt

Ingredients for truffle butter:
Unsalted butter at room temperature
White truffle oil

Instructions for veal chops:
Pre-heat your oven to 325°F
In a heavy dutch oven or pan, melt the gee and brown your veal chops – about 2 minutes on each side
Then spread the beef bullion paste or crumble your Oxo cube (if you are in the UK) on top of the chops
Add the rosemary and sherry and bake your chops for 3 hours but check them every hour for the first two hours then every 20 minutes thereafter to ensure they don’t dry out or burn – add more sherry if they dry out – up to you if you have a tiny sip from a glass now or not. I won’t judge you.
The chops are ready when the flesh shreds easily with a fork and falls off the bone
Take them out of the pan and allow to cool but leave the juices in the pan
Shred the veal, discard the fat and bones and put the meat back into the pan coating it in the remaining pan juices which should be rich and dark (not burned)
Re-heat the veal on the stove-top just before serving (while the gnocchi water is boiling)

Instructions for the truffle butter:
¼ lb or half a stick of butter, room temperature softened
Add truffle oil a few drops at a time to taste
Blend well with a fork and set to one side
You can, of course, make a larger batch and store in the fridge wrapped log-shaped in plastic wrap

Instructions for the asparagus and tomatoes:
Pre-heat the oven to 375°F when you are almost done making all the gnocchi and before you put the water to boil – you will roast the vegetables while you are boiling the water for the gnocchi
Wash, dry and chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces
Place both tomatoes and asparagus pieces in a baking dish
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
Bake for 10 minutes and set to one side – keep them warm

Instructions for gnocchi:
Pre-heat your oven to 350°F
Have your flour accessible next to your working surface
Wipe the outside of your potatoes and prick them once with a sharp knife
Bake your potatoes for 1 hour
Err on the side of over-baking rather than under-baking – this helps remove moisture (less flour=lighter gnocchi)
When they have baked, take one out with an oven glove, slice it open lengthwise and quickly scoop out the hot potato flesh into the food mill or ricer
Then do the same with two more potatoes
Pass the flesh through the mill or ricer (on finest setting) into your clean bowl
Now do the same with your remaining potatoes
Work quickly here – it will help keep your gnocchi light and fluffy
Turn your milled potato flesh out onto a lightly floured surface
Stab the pile with your pastry scraper (preferably) or a metal spoon, spreading it out into an even, shallow layer
Do not drag the scraper or spoon (that works the starch) – Only stab downwards and evenly back and forth for 8 to 10 minutes until the potatoes are broken down into small pieces and cool to the touch
Grab and handful of flour (about ⅓ cup) and sprinkle it over the spread-out potato mass
Slice-stab it some more, back and forth
Scoop the sides of your pile into the middle of the pile and keep stabbing – Don’t knead or pull – Only stab and fold
Sprinkle another handful of flour evenly across the top of the potato and flour mass
Slice-stab some more until you can’t see any flour
Now you can start to fold in the outer edges into the center
Sprinkle some more flour  on top, evenly, and incorporate
Fold the edges in again – now the mass is getting smaller
Now sprinkle some more flour on top and stab but this time, bring the edges into the center some more until the mass starts to become stickier, cohesive and resemble dough
Press it down with the scraper or edge of large knife so you can flip it over
Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and flip your dough onto it
Sprinkle with another layer of flour and, using the bench scraper, press the flour in, fold over, press again — Remember, don’t knead
Do this until you no longer see any trace of flour
When the dough sticks to the counter, your gnocchi dough is ready
Slice off a small piece at a time and roll out into round long strips just slightly thicker than a pencil
With your pastry scraper or sharp knife, slice the strip into little pieces about ¼ inch long
Remember, they expand during cooking – Smaller pieces cook faster and stay lighter
Set the morsels on a lined baking sheet so they don’t touch (and therefore don’t stick)
Keep on rolling, slicing and setting them aside, sprinkling them with flour as needed to keep them from sticking, until you have used up all the dough
You can now cook them fresh (they will be ok for about an hour uncooked) or freeze them if you don’t need them for a few hours – I don’t find they refrigerate well. You are better off freezing them
To freeze, keep the gnocchi on the lined baking sheet and place in the freezer
Once they have frozen, remove them from the tin, braking off any that have stuck together and place them in a ziplock bag back into the freezer
To cook from frozen, do not thaw – simply put into boiling hot water and cook as if they were fresh

Bringing it all together:
Once you are ready to cook your gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil
While the water is boiling, roast the tomatoes and asparagus – Hopefully you remembered to pre-heat your oven to 375°F and warm up the veal in the pan
Place the gnocchi into the boiling water (no oil, only salt) and give them a brief stir
When they float to the top (it can take about 1 to 2 minutes), cook for 20 seconds more and then pour out into a colander
Quickly turn back into the pan and top with a tablespoon of truffle butter (you can always add more later but start low), vegetables and shredded veal – toss to combine
Serve with a few shavings of parmesan (optional)

Notes:
Gnocchi recipe adapted from New York Chef Marco Canora (Hearth).
Toppings adapted from Il Poggio restaurant in Snowmass, Co.
Truffle butter recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse.

© 2014-2015 Caroline’s Family Kitchen and CarolinesFamilyKitchen.com

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