Thursday, January 7, 2010

Noilly Gnocchi

This is Simon's absolute favourite.
If he feels sad, it's the solution.
If he finishes a big contract, this is the treat.
If he can have anything in the world, he wants gnocchi.

We joke around a lot when we watch shows like top chef or dream of a restaurant of our own: what would be my signature dish? This would be it he always says. Then I go into a long tirade about how I cannot be known for a 'pasta' dish, I want to be more than that.

Then I make it and it just melts in my mouth and I think, yeah, maybe.
It all happened by accident some years ago...
I wanted to make egg noodles with a wine/cream sauce.
We had no egg noodles. We had no white wine. And really, we didn't have many vegetables either. Over the years, we tried many variations, added veggies because we feel bad when it doesn't cover 3/4 of the plate - but it tastes the best when it is simple.

Tonight I sauteed a few mushrooms in butter, salt and pepper and frankly, we did not care for them much (even though their were Christophe's!) because the gnocchi were so rich and velvety and made everything else disappear.

ok. And we had an arugula salad for good conscience.
The vinaigrette was a really simple mix of nicely aged balsamic and good olive oil (a splendid xmas gift from Candice!)

Noilly Prat Cream Sauce Gnocchi

2 cups gnocchi (about the equivalent of one commercial package)*
2 French shallots, small dice
1 Tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6-8 slices prosciutto, roughly chopped
3/4 cup Noilly Prat (dry vermouth, this is our favourite)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup emmenthal cheese, grated, packed cup
1/2 cup grated parmesan (or more, to taste)
1 cup 35% cream
Fresh cracked pepper

Get the water boiling for the gnocchi and start the sauce. The time it takes to boil and cook the gnocchi, should be perfect timing to add the potato dumplings to the sauce. (cook until the first one comes to the surface - never overcook gnocchi, they get sticky and mushy)

In a large pan, cook the shallots in butter for a few minutes on med-low heat. Add chopped prosciutto, cook a few minutes more. Add vermouth, let reduce. When almost no liquid is left, add garlic, then chicken stock. Again, let reduce (by about half volume). Add the cream and cheese, stir constantly so that the sauce does not curdle. I take my cream out as soon as I start cooking, the 'temperature shock' is often responsible for curdling. When sauce begins to thicken, add the gnocchi to the pan. Cook until it reaches a thick consistency.

Serve with fresh cracked pepper - don't add salt until you taste it!!! I am a very salty person and I never add any to this dish. You can also garnish with chopped green onions, it adds colors and crunch.

*Commercial gnocchi.
I have tried so many kinds... Nothing is as fluffy as homemade ones, but really, who has time to do that from scratch on a weeknight when you come home from work at 7pm??? La Bottega in the market has really good ones, and really horrible ones too! Trust good 'pasta' brands and respect the cooking time (or be really alert for the first floating ones!)

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