Gnocchi Ai Porcini
Potato Gnocchi with Porcini Mushrooms- a dish combined with delicate, earthy mushrooms and paired with a mascarpone herb sauce than finished in the oven. I was first introduced to the term Gnocchi, simply meaning “dumpling,” when I was in Italy taking a cooking class. It was prepared with a mixture of potato and semolina flour, than completed with a basil pesto sauce. To form the grooves, we used the authentic Italian technique of running the gnocchi across the tines of a fork. Surprisingly, it required a great amount of time and technique to make them look presentable. Last week during my food basics class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, I was astounded to learn about the gnocchi board–a small wooden paddle with vertical grooves used to create the same effect as the classical fork technique– but in a much easier way!
To create the dish, a combination of mushrooms were sauteed with olive oil, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. The sauce was a mixture of sauteed shallots, mascarpone cheese, parsley, sage, thyme and marjoram. The potatoes were roasted until tender and the pulp was removed and put through a food mill. All purpose flour was added to potato and seasoned with salt, nutmeg and parmesan cheese. The dough was kneaded lightly to form a smooth, somewhat elastic dough and shaped into a long log. Than small portions were rolled it into long ropes, approximately 8- x 1/2 inch-wide. Afterwards, they were cut into 1 inch pieces and rolled down the gnocchi board. The technique of using the board is simple- you take the piece of dough and position it at the top portion of the board, placing your thumb at the top of the dough. Then, in one motion, roll the dough downwards until the two ends slightly touch, having a hollow inside. Lastly, the gnocchi’s were cooked in boiling water until floating, and combined with the sauteed mushrooms and the mascarpone herb sauce in baking dish than finished in the oven. The result was a delicious gnocchi casserole with bold flavors from both the mushrooms and herb sauce, combined with delicate, savory gnocchi’s!