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Brown Butter Gnocchi

This recipe for Brown Butter Gnocchi is from the cookbook, Shefzilla: Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home, by Stewart Woodman

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Brown Butter Gnocchi – Photo credit: Kate N. G. Sommers

Cooks&Books&Recipes Cook Renee, Flamingo Musings:

The recipes I chose to test for this review were the Gnocchi and the Brown Butter Gnocchi (because what’s the point of making the gnocchi if you’re not going to try the sauce that goes with it, right?). I decided to make the gnocchi recipes because (a) gnocchi is probably my favorite pasta of all time and I’ve never made it from scratch, and (b) whenever I go to a restaurant I’ve never been to before, if I see gnocchi on the menu, I order it as my personal test of the restaurant. So you might think of this as my personal test of the Shefzilla cookbook.

Brown Butter Gnocchi - www.cooksandbooksandrecipes.com

Brown Butter Gnocchi –
Photo credit: Renee J., Flamingo Musings

My first thoughts after preparing the gnocchi included: That was pretty quick and super-easy! Why have I never tried this before? and I’ve really got to get one of those grooved board things that people who actually make gnocchi a lot use to get that rounded, grooved shape. Because although it’s not in the recipes instructions, I really wanted to get that shape, and running a fork over the gnocchi basically just made them look like grooved Chiclets. That, however, is not Chef Woodman’s fault.

Ingredients for Brown Butter Gnocchi - www.cooksandbooksandrecipes.com

Ingredients for Brown Butter Gnocchi
Photo credit: Renee J., Flamingo Musings

The Brown Butter Gnocchi recipe is in two parts: the sauce itself, and the finish.  When preparing the sauce, you should be sure that everything is portioned, chopped, and ready to go before you start cooking. The process goes that quickly. It was delicious! The balsamic vinegar and truffle oil (I used a white truffle oil whose base is sunflower oil) complement the gnocchi beautifully. I will say, though, that between the two steps, there is cumulatively a lot of butter and a lot of oil, making this dish much richer than it appears. Since most of the ingredients are repeated between the two steps, when I make it again (and I will definitely make it again!), I will probably either prepare the sauce only and finish with just a drizzle of the truffle oil (do not leave out the truffle oil–it’s fabulous!) or skip the sauce and prepare the gnocchi as outlined in the finish step–but I won’t do both.

Brown Butter Gnocchi - www.cooksandbooksandrecipes.com

Brown Butter Gnocchi –
Photo credit: Renee J., Flamingo Musings

I’ve cooked several other recipes out of Shefzilla, including the Tropical Mushroom Soup, which was smooth, with just the barest hint of pineapple and coconut milk, and surprisingly light. The ingredients don’t sound as though they ought to go together, but they really do. I’m just sorry I didn’t get any photos of it–it was very pretty. On my list to make soon are the Poached Chicken and Wilted Arugula With Orzo, the Almond and Mascarpone Bundt Cake (as I write, I’m drying orange zest for the glaze), the South Minneapolis Peanut Butter Brownies, and without a doubt, the Banana-Nutella Napoleons (c’mon, how could I not?!).

One thing to keep in mind is to not take Chef Woodman’s timing in the recipes too literally. The butter browned much more quickly than stated in the recipe, and I’ve read other reviews indicating that the brownies bake more quickly than his written timing. And many of the recipes require advance planning, since they include ingredients that are dressings or spice mixtures whose recipes are located in another chapter, titled Essentials. So even though Shefzilla may not be for the beginning cook who’s just starting out in the kitchen, it’s definitely for the rest of us–providing a good read, as well as delicious and unusual meals for our families and friends.

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Brown Butter Gnocchi

Featured Recipe From: Shefzilla: Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

Gnocchi

  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for rolling and cutting dough
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Brown Butter Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 fresh parsley stems and ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

To finish:

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 recipe Gnocchi (p. 69), frozen, divided
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons butter, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon truffle oil
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Gnocchi

1. Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with cold water; add ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender. (While potatoes are cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients: you'll want to work quickly through the next few steps.)

2. Drain potatoes and press through a ricer into a 4-quart bowl. Sprinkle hot riced potatoes with ¾ teaspoon salt and pepper.

3. Crack egg into a small bowl; whisk lightly. Pour over potato and gently mix by hand until just incorporated.

4. Sprinkle mixture with ½ cup flour and mix by hand just until flour is incorporated. Do not overmix; doing so will make the gnocchi gummy.

5. Divide dough into 4 parts. Using a liberal amount of the remaining flour, roll dough into a ½-inch- diameter rope.

6. Cut gnocchi into 1-inch pieces using a paring knife and dusting the blade with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Handling carefully, place the delicate gnocchi on a baking sheet lined with flour-dusted parchment paper.

7. In an 8-quart stockpot, bring 6 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Gently tip the parchment paper into the pot, allowing the gnocchi to fall into the water. Remove and discard paper; prepare ice-water bath in a medium bowl.

8. When gnocchi rise to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon and place in ice-water bath. Hold in ice water until gnocchi have stopped cooking and are cold to the touch.

9. Drain gnocchi and lay on a towel to remove excess moisture. Place gnocchi in a dry bowl and toss with canola oil. Pour gnocchi onto a waxed paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until firm. Package in a freezer bag; freeze for up to a couple of months.

Brown Butter Sauce

1. Heat butter in a small (1½-quart) heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Fry parsley stems until crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove and discard stems.

2. Add shallot to butter and cook, stirring, until shallot is golden and butter is deep golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar (butter will foam), then remove from heat. Stir in parsley leaves and season with salt and pepper.

To finish:

1. Heat a large saute pan over very high heat. Working in three batches, begin by heating 1 tablespoon canola oil to smoking point. Add one-third of the Gnocchi and stir until it starts to brown. Add teaspoon salt, 1 twist black pepper, and ½ tablespoon butter. Cook until gnocchi are golden brown on the sides; remove gnocchi from pan and hold on a serving plate. Repeat with remaining two batches.

2. Top gnocchi with brown butter sauce and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and truffle oil. Using a vegetable peeler, shave Parmesan over gnocchi. Finish with freshly ground black pepper. Serve.

© 2010 Stewart Woodman

Reprinted with permission from Shefzilla: Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home, by Stewart Woodman, photos by Kate N. G. Sommers (Borealis Books)

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