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Fresh Crab and Corn Parisian Gnocchi with Pancetta

FreshCrab&CornParisianGnochiWithPolenta

Photo credit: Bill Brady


Executive chef owner Jonathon Sawyer, The Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland, Ohio:

At the Greenhouse Tavern we believe that the proximity of the farm and soil to a restaurant correlates to the quality of its food. Cooking with local ingredients is essential, and Ohio corn is one of our favorites. One of our finest summer pastas at the Greenhouse Tavern is featured here. Contrasting with the spiciness of the black pepper, this dish really showcases the sweetness of fresh Ohio corn.

Cooks&Books&Recipes Editors’ Notes:

Fresh crab, corn, and pancetta–tossed and simmered with gnocchi–what’s not to like? The fresh corn adds a creaminess to the crab, while the pancetta lends a salty spiciness. But the true, unexpected kick comes from the roasted Fresno chiles. The sauce only tastes complex, however; it’s a breeze to throw together (cutting the corn off the cobs is the hardest task). We made the dish easier overall by substituting store-bought potato gnocchi, since the contributor notes gave us permission. If you’re the more experienced and/or ambitious type, the recipe for the Parisian gnocchi is here as well. What makes it “Parisian”? Minus the potatoes, plus cheese. Though that sounds a bit heretical, the word is that this type of gnocchi is also simpler to make. If you try it, let us know what you think. Actually, if you try it, how ’bout inviting us to dinner?

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Fresh Crab and Corn Parisian Gnocchi with Pancetta

Featured Recipe From: I Love Corn

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears fresh corn, husked, cleaned, kernels removed, cobs reserved (about 3 cups)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or enough to cover the corncobs)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup diced pancetta
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • Parisian Gnocchi (recipe follows; see Contributor Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon minced roasted Fresno chiles (see Contributor Notes)
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh picked Dungeness crabmeat
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Parisian Gnocchi

  • 1½ cups water
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 cups for piping
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (see Contributor Notes)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 large farm eggs

Directions:

  1. Place the corncobs in a medium-size stockpot and fill the pot with the vegetable stock until just covered. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then shut off the heat and let the cobs steep for 10 minutes. Strain the stock into a separate container, reserve 1 cup, and save the rest for another use. Discard the cobs.
  2. Place the butter and pancetta in a wide, nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Render the fat from the meat and heat until the butter begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaf and gnocchi to the pan and cook until the gnocchi begin to brown on one side. Add the corn, Fresno chiles, and the 1 cup of reserved vegetable stock. Toss and cook for 2 to 3 additional minutes, or until the pasta and the sauce homogenize. Add the crab and season with freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss again, and add parsley as desired. Serve hot.

Parisian Gnocchi

  1. Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium-size heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Watch carefully to be sure that the pot does not boil over or too much liquid does not evaporate, as changing the ratio of liquid to flour could make tough gnocchi.
  2. Once the liquid comes to a boil, add the flour and stir until the mixture forms a dough and pulls away from the sides of the pot. Add the cheese and nutmeg, then continue to stir until fully incorporated.
  3. Remove from the heat and transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time while mixing on medium speed, mixing just until each egg is incorporated. At first the dough will look broken, but as you add the eggs it will come back together. Do not overmix.
  4. Once the mixture has become homogeneous again, turn off the mixer. Line two baking sheets with parchment and sift the 2 cups of flour generously onto the parchment paper. Transfer the dough to a piping bag without a tip. The dough should all fit in one bag, or piping it in batches is okay, too.
  5. Pipe the gnocchi onto the floured baking sheets into ¼-inch ropes until all is used. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes (to refrigerator temperature) to firm.
  6. In the meantime, fill a large pot partway with water and bring to a boil over high heat, adding salt until the water tastes like the ocean. In a very large bowl, prepare an ice bath using a ratio of 3 cups of ice to 6 cups of water. Set aside.
  7. Remove the gnocchi from the refrigerator one baking sheet at a time. Use a bench scraper to cut the ropes into 1- to 1½-inch-long segments, depending on your preference. Place the gnocchi in the pot of boiling water and cook until they float to the top, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain them out as they rise and shock them in the ice bath. Repeat until all the gnocchi are cut and cooked.
  8. Strain the gnocchi from the ice bath into a large mixing bowl, tossing with 3 tablespoons of blended oil to prevent sticking. Use the gnocchi within 3 to 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Contributor Notes: You can substitute 1 (16-ounce) box of store-bought potato gnocchi. You can also substitute salt-cured chili paste if roasted Fresno chiles are not available.

Author Note: The remaining vegetable stock can be used to make the Sweet Corn Soup (page 22), or freeze it for a later use.

Contributor Notes: You can substitute a harder cheese for the Parmesan, such as Gruyere or pecorino. You can also make the gnocchi to order, rather than blanching them in advance. If you freeze the gnocchi, avoid stacking them. Laying them flat on a sheet is best.

© 2012 Lisa Skye

From I Love Corn, by Lisa Skye (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

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