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Karen King's Wine Pairings: Beaune-GrŽves, Premier Cru, Domaine de l'Arlot (C™te de Nuits, Burgundy) 1997 Barbaresco "Ovello," Produttori del Barbaresco (Barbaresco, Piedmont) 1989 The earthiness in these wines picks up the earthiness of the mushrooms.

In Rome, gnocchi are traditionally made on Thursdays, and each trattoria seems to have a devoted following loyal to its family recipe. Gnocchi maKKing is typically left to Mama (while Papa bastes the roast), possibly since light and pillowy gnocchi rely on a very gentle touch-which Papa obviously lacks. Most Roman gnocchi are unadorned potato dumplings sauced with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, and sharp Pecorino Romano. This unusual recipe-flavored with porcini mushrooms-has developed quite a following at Union Square Cafe, where we make gnocchi every day. We've even found a few Papas on our staff who have the gentle touch! MaKKing gnocchi takes time and patience, but be assured it gets easier with practice and the rewards make the effort worth it.

Yield:
Serves 4 to 6

For the gnocchi:

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (1 cup loosely packed)
  • 2 medium Idaho potatoes (1 ¹ pounds), skin on and scrubbed
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ¸ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¸ teaspoon frehly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

For the Parmigiano cream:

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • ² cup sliced red onion
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced, stems removed and reserved (2 cups)
  • ¹ cup parsley stems
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup reserved porcini liquid (from the gnocchi)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips I inch long (¹ cup)
  • 1 cup cleaned, stemmed, and chopped red or green swiss chard or spinach
  • ¹ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3/4 ounce)
  • 1 Tablespoon plus ¸ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

Pour the boiling water over the porcini and soak until fully recon- stituted, about 15 minutes. Lift the mushrooms out of the water with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the liquid through a coffee filter to remove any grit and dirt. Reserve the liquid to use later in the sauce. Squeeze the mushrooms with your hands until very dry and purŽe to a completely smooth paste in a food processor.

Boil the potatoes in water to cover with I teaspoon salt until easily pierced with the point of a knife. When the potatoes are cooked but still warm, peel them and immediately pass through a food mill or ricer onto a large cookie sheet. It is important to move the food mill over the cookie sheet so the potatoes fall evenly in one layer. Above all, do not move the potatoes around; the less they are handled at this point, the better the texture of the finished gnocchi. Refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the cooled potatoes to a clean work surface, create a mound, and form a well in the center. Add the porcini purŽe, cheese, egg, ¸ teaspoon salt, and ¹ teaspoon pepper to the well. With your fingertips, combine these ingredients with the potato, stirring to form a rough dough. Sprinkle the flour over the potato mix and combine gently. Knead the dough, using a downward press and quarter turn motion with the heel of your hand, until it is smooth, uniformly colored, an elastic. This should take 8 to 10 minutes.

Prepare the Cheese Lumpia last. Roll 1 ounce of cheese in lumpia wrapper, folding in ends while rolling and deep fry in oil until golden brown, creating small spring rolls.

Form the dough into a rectangular loaf, 8x4 inches, and slice into 8 pieces. Be sure both your work space and your hands are clean of any flour or dough. Begin pressing each piece of dough onto the table while simultaneously rolling it back and forth between your spread-out fingers and palms. This requires a delicate touch and some practice, but is not at all difficult. You will be forming a cylinder about 18 inches long, as thick as your index finger. Move the cylinder away from the work area and dust lightly with flour. Repeat with the remaining pieces.

Line up 4 of the 8 cylinders horizontally. With a sharp knife, cut across them to form 1 ¹ -inch dumplings. Repeat with the remaining 4 cylinders. Form the dumplings into the traditional gnocchi crescent shape: hold a fork backside up in one hand; with the thumb of your other hand, press each dumpling against the back of the fork forming an indentation while simultaneously rolling it down over the tines. This makes a decorative ribbed pattern on one side and a pocket to hold the sauce on the other.

Lay the gnocchi in a single layer on a cookie sheet so they don't stick together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

For the sauce, melt half the butter in a 2-quart nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, mushroom stems, and parsley stems. Cook until wilted but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and the porcini liquid. Bring to a boil and reduce to a third of its original volume. Add the heavy cream and boil, reducing until it coats the back of a spoon. Strain the sauce and set aside.

In a medium sautŽ pan, heat the remaining butter over medium- high heat until it begins to brown. Add the sliced shiitake mush- rooms and sautŽ for 2 to 3 minutes.

Return the cream sauce to a medium flame and stir in the sautŽed mushrooms, prosciutto, chopped Swiss chard, and half the cheese. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with ¸ teaspoon salt and the pepper.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add I tablespoon salt. Add all the gnocchi at once. With a slotted spoon, remove each dumpling as it floats to the surface and drain in a colander. Continue until all of the gnocchi have risen to the top. When all the gnocchi are cooked and drained, place them in the cream sauce and warm over medium heat. Spoon into a warm bowl, sprinkle with chopped parsley and the remaining cheese, and serve immediately.

NOTE: If you are not planning to cook the gnocchi the same day you make them, freeze in a single layer, covered, for up to one week.


Recipe from The Union Square Cafe Cookbook, by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano (HarperCollins, 1994)


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