Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
Challenging and expensive. That is what this dish was. It started with the gnocchi making process. On Thursday night, I ran to Central Bottle for my vin santo at 8:30 p.m. FYI, $57 a pop and I had to buy two bottles. Eeeesh. I went on a wild goose chase trying to find this stuff. It was only when I opened the bottle that I realized this was the very same wine used in Catholic mass. The aroma immediately transported me back to my humble alter server roots in good old Our Lady of Lourdes in Malverne, NY. Of course Barbara Lynch would use “holy wine” in her recipe.
When I got home, it was probably 9ish and with the combination of cooking and taking pictures, the whole thing took me probably 3 hours. Gnocchi, for anyone who doesn’t know, is like a potato “dumpling”. It’s generally a small potato pasta in an oval shape with grooves. They are the culmination of two worlds of good, pasta and potatoes. In the words of Ina, “how bad could that be?” Mmmm. It was only logical that the place to start was with the good old spud… four russets to be exact. I boiled the potatoes in heavily salted water until they were fork tender.
At the same time, I had 20 prunes and 1 cup of vin santo on medium heat until the wine had mostly disappeared. Be warned, the sugary prunes may start giving off some serious smoke if not watched carefully. I would know. I set off my smoke alarm and panicked that the Waltham Fire Department would be at my door only moments later. Fortunately, I both avoided that situation and saved my prune filling. Once it cooled down slightly, I threw that in a food processor until smooth and set aside.
The potatoes at this point were cool enough to handle and I peeled the skin. Then I whipped out the greatest invention, the potato ricer. This thing is like a garlic press for Andre the Giant. It is impressive. I got light, fluffy potatoes and felt hopeful that I would get equally light and fluffy gnocchi. After throwing some flour, eggs, nutmeg, and ground black pepper, I was on my way to making pasta from scratch. Before I knew it, I had a beautiful mound of dough. What followed was rolling, cutting, stuffing, and freezing.
Riced potatoes // Pasta making!
DOUGH!!!!!!!!!! // Stuffed Gnocchi
On Friday, I received my foie gras from D’Artagnan. They were slightly more bruised than I would have expected and on Saturday, when I opened the package and started handling them, they had more veins than I would have liked. Fortunately, for the sauce, I was able to shove the foie gras through a fine mesh, which made vein removal very easy.
I mixed the foie with room temperature butter until both were very well incorporated. Then I threw the mix on wax paper, rolled it up, and threw it in the fridge to harden.
While the foie butter was hardening, I started the rest of the sauce with thyme, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, shallots, and more vin santo. I reduced the liquid down to a glaze on high heat. Then, I turned the heat down to medium low and slowly started adding the foie butter, taking care to melt it completely before adding more.
Foie gras is basically 100% fat. I felt that the sauce started looking a little oily, but a good whisking did the trick. I did have a hard time keeping it together though.
The next step was to sear foie gras. This is where the veins were a slight pain in the rear. I had to go through each piece to make sure no veins made their way onto the pan. With my not too gentle foie gras handling skills, that took a little longer than I would have liked. Eventually I got there and the foie gras went into a small skillet until brown on both sides. Like I said before, foie gras is all fat and is like a resilient butter. It keeps its shape, but before long, you’ll be left with a skillet full of oil and no more foie gras!
Once that was done, I boiled the gnocchi in salted water until they started floating. That only took 2-3 minutes.
To serve, I sauced the plate and placed three gnocchi on each. The seared foie and some extra sauce topped the gnocchi. Then I garnished the plate with some chopped toasted almonds and Italian parsley. I immediately snapped a picture and dug in.
The finished product
The verdict? The taste was spot on, but the dish was much heavier than the No. 9 Park version. I think I messed up somewhere while making the gnocchi and the sauce. It was still delicious, but I think I may need to go back for the real stuff soon.