Breakfast Gnocchi

Breakfast gnocchi (4)

Yes, yes—I know:  I’ve neglected posting recipes and commentary in this platform for an embarrassing number of months.  And there’s no good reason, really, other than poor compartmentalization in my other creative endeavors.  There’s also a matter of teaching which occupies a hearty part of my time.  But in the end, I’ll echo Jerry Cantrell’s sentiments from the Jar of Flies album—“No excuses…”

But what spurred this particular installment was—despite my abeyance in posting recipes—the recent notification that one of my former editors subscribed to my blog.  (Thanks for checking in one me, Mr. E.)

What I’ve produced for you here is a dish I concocted for the breakfast menu at the restaurant.  The idea here was to incorporate key elements of a typical breakfast—meat, potato, egg—and produce a different interpretation.

Translated from Italian, gnocchi (pronounced knock-key) means “lumps”; so while I’ll place some emphasis on consistency (the ideal shape is oblong and tubular, about the size of the knuckle of your thumb), don’t work your fingers to the bone seeking geometric perfection.  Like all rustic dumplings, the dimensions of these silky-and-savory bites should suggest something homemade—or “fatto in casa.”

Typically, gnocchi is a mixture of potato, flour, and egg (often cheese like Parmesan, as is employed here), but you can also use other starchy products—butternut squash, for example.

Another advantage of these simple dumplings is pre-poaching the gnocchi ahead of time, and then refrigerating or freezing for later use.

For those of you who recently joined my list of readers:  thank you—thank you for participating in and supporting this culinary conversation.

We’ll chat again soon.

Breakfast gnocchi

Serves 5

  • One recipe of basic gnocchi (follows)
  • 1 poached egg (ratio for poaching liquid = 1 quart water : 1 tablespoon white vinegar)
  • 2 slices bacon (whole for rendering fat)
  • As needed, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 5 whole cherry tomatoes
  • As needed, grated Parmesan cheese
  • As needed, chopped fresh parsley
  • As needed, sliced fresh green onion (for garnish)

 Basic Gnocchi

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 10 ounces all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading dough)
  • 2 tablespoons, grated Parmesan cheese
  • As needed, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  Place potatoes in pot of water; bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer; cook until potatoes are tender when inserting a paring knife through center.  Remove potatoes from water and allow to rest for several minutes.  While potatoes are still warm, remove skins.  Place skinned potatoes in food mill and mash until smooth.  Add in eggs, flour, Parmesan cheese, and season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper (may need additional flour if dough is too moist).  On a lightly floured work surface, knead gnocchi dough  for several minutes until dough is smooth.  Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap.  Prepare gnocchi poaching liquid:  place a large pot of salted water on high heat; bring water to just below a simmer.

2.  Divide dough into four equal portions; roll out each portion into a long rope; using a knife or bench scraper, cut knuckle-size pieces, and use the tines of a fork to make striated indentions in the dough (but don’t smash them—keep them tubular and oblong); reserve the pieces of gnocchi on a floured sheetpan.

3.  Once gnocchi is shaped, gently lower into poaching water.  Cook gnocchi until dough floats, and continue cooking for approximately five to seven minutes (or until thoroughly cooked).  Using a bowl strainer or slotted spoon, remove gnocchi and reserve on an oiled sheetpan.

4.  Bring one quart of water and one tablespoon white vinegar to approximately 180° F for poaching liquid.  Gently crack a large egg and lower egg into poaching liquid.

5.  Place cherry tomatoes in a sauté pan or sheet pan and place over heat or in an oven to blister skins; reserve.  Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, fry bacon, rendering fat; remove bacon, drain on towel and chop; reserve.  Add roughly a cup of prepared gnocchi to sauté pan and brown in hot bacon fat.  Toss in parsley, green onion, and season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.

6.  Plate gnocchi, garnishing with Parmaesan cheese, parsley, green onion, and cherry tomatoes.  Gently place poached egg on top of gnocchi.

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Published in: on June 3, 2013 at 9:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Grilled bison steaks with pesto goat cheese gnocchi

Some bison advice: get to know buffalo

Originally appeared in the December 6, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

Grilled bison steaks with pesto goat cheese gnocchi (5)

You may have noticed those bison steaks chilling in a slim row next to the organic chicken and lamb shanks at your local grocery.  And for whatever reason you’ve passed them over for the same old steaks—whether due to cost or culinary uncertainty—take it from me: you’re missing out.

As shared in the third edition of Labensky and Hause’s insightful tome On Cooking, bison (also known as American buffalo) were once found in huge herds in the plains states, but were hunted into near-extinction during the nineteenth century.

Cooking bison is a quiet affair—what I mean is that while the meat is tender and flavorfully distinct, it lacks the marbling of beef; and having said that, the lean profile of bison requires you to make a few adjustments to the cooking time.  Like other coveted cuts of red meat, I urge you: don’t…overdo…it.

The subtle aroma and flavor of bison is ungamey, and retains a texture akin to filet mignon.  My last three pieces of bison advice: season wisely, uncork a bottle of red, and serve with hearty starch that will do the noble buffalo justice.  See you next week, dear reader.

Grilled bison steaks with pesto goat cheese gnocchi

Serves 2

  • 2, 6- to 8-ounce bison sirloin steaks
  • 16 ounces prepared potato gnocchi (Delallo makes a very decent boxed variety)
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • As needed, ½ cup (or more) whole milk
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • As needed, fresh Italian parsley for garnish

1.  Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, place a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Liberally season bison steaks with kosher salt and cracked black pepper; and once grill is hot, place steaks on heat.  When water comes to a boil, pour in prepared gnocchi and cook for 3- 5 minutes.

2.  Prepare sauce for gnocchi: in a sauté pan over low heat, add goat cheese along with a small amount of milk; allow cheese to melt down.  When goat cheese has thinned out, whisk in prepared pesto; season to taste and keep warm.

3.  When bison has been grill-seared on both sides, place on an oven-safe dish, cover with aluminum foil, and continue cooking in oven at 375°F for 5-7 minutes or until desired doneness is achieved.  Drain gnocchi thoroughly and toss in goat cheese sauce.  Serve bison atop gnocchi and garnish with Italian parsley.

Published in: on December 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Warm German Potato Salad

Yield:  25, 4-ounce portions

  • 7 pounds waxy potatoes
  • 8 ounces diced bacon
  • 1 cup chicken stock, hot (may require more, if needed)
  • 6 ounces white wine vinegar
  • 4 ounces fine chop shallots
  • ¼ teaspoon fine chop garlic
  • ¼ cup fine chop fresh parsley
  • To taste kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  Scrub potatoes, and then boil until tender.  Do not overcook.

2.  Drain potatoes and leave in colander to cool.

3.  Peel potatoes while still warm.  Cut into ¼-inch-thick slices or in a ½-inch dice.

4.  Meanwhile, cook bacon to crispy, rendering fat.

5.  Combine dressing ingredients:  bacon, rendered fat, chicken stock, vinegar, shallots, and garlic.  Pour warm ingredients over potatoes.

6.  Place potato salad in a large pan, cover, and place in the oven at 300°F over about 30 minutes.  Serve hot.

Published in: on September 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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