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Homemade Potato Gnocchi
with Pancetta, Escargots,
Vegetable Pearls and
Makes 6 First Course Servings
*8 large Idaho potatoes (11 to 12 ounces each)
*3 egg yolks
*4 cups all-purpose flour (approximately)
*2 tablespoons butter
*3 tablespoons chopped shallots
*6 tablespoons pancetta, diced and rendered (smoked bacon can be substituted)
*30 small canned escargots, rinsed
*1 large carrot, carved into pearls with an 8-point scoop
*1/2 zucchini, carved into pearls with an 8-point scoop
*1/2 yellow squash, carved into pearls with an 8-point scoop
*4 ounces (1/2 cup) vegetable or chicken stock
*1 pinch fresh rosemary, chopped
*1 pinch fresh thyme, chopped
*Salt and pepper
*6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
*3 tablespoons finely sliced chives
*Chervil pluches for garnish (See Notes)
1For the Gnocchi, bake the potatoes in a 400F degree oven until they can be easily pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and peel as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Pass the potatoes through a food mill and spread out in a thin layer on a baking sheet.
2Place pan in a 250F degree oven for 15 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes have dried out. Do not allow them to brown. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let cool.
3Turn the potatoes out onto a work surface, make a well in the center and incorporate the egg yolks. Add the flour, one cup at a time, working it in with your hands.
4Let the dough rest for 30 minutes under a moist cloth - this would be a great time to start those labor-intensive vegetable pearls.
5Add a few pinches of salt to the dough and incorporate.
6Roll a small piece of dough into a log, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (gnocchi) and drop into salted boiling water to test consistency. Add more flour if needed.
7Divide the remaining dough into four pieces, roll into logs and then slice the logs into gnocchi using the back of the knife or a pastry cutter. Dust the work surface and gnocchi with flour to prevent sticking, if needed.
8You will need approximately 3 cups of finished gnocchi for six first courses. The remainder freeze really well - dust them lightly with flour, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. You can then transfer them to ziplock bags for storage, but spread them out in a single layer on a well-floured tray to defrost before boiling. (Or you can drop them straight from the freezer into rapidly boiling water.)
9To boil the gnocchi and prepare the sauce, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
10Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the cooked pancetta or smoked bacon. Add the escargots, vegetable pearls, stock, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute over high heat for 2 minutes.
11Drop the gnocchi in the boiling water and remove with a slotted spoon after they have floated for 30 seconds.
12Add the gnocchi to the sauce and let simmer a minute or so, until the sauce is absorbed. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, the cheese and the chives. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
13Divide among six small shallow bowls, garnish with the chervil and serve.
  • An 8-point scoop, available at kitchen stores, is actually just a tiny melon baller. Use it to carve the vegetables into perfect uniform "pearls" that make this dish so aesthetically pleasing.
  • Placing the milled potatoes in a 250F degree oven allows the excess moisture to evaporate. Less flour is required to form the dough and the resulting gnocchi are tender and light as air.
  • 'Pluche' is a French term for an herb sprig used as a garnish. The herb's leaves are often trimmed from the bottom of the stem - like a rose for a short bud vase.
  • Source
    Chef/Owner Michael Schlow, Radius, Via Matta and Great Bay Restaurants, Boston, MA