Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pan Seared Gnocchi

I'm in love. It's not new really, I've felt this way for a few years, from the first time we met. It was definitely love at first bite (too far?).
This link will probably break (just like my heart) because the chef's latest restaurant was closed THE DAY AFTER I LAST VISITED. Thank GOD I got in one more time. In any case, chef Sean O'Brien makes the most heartbreakingly angelic gnocchi you will ever have the honor of caressing with your mouth. If the link is broken google him! You'll know you've found the right one if it says he worked at Myth & Zinnia in San Francisco.
Seriously, the man is a gnocchi genius. And his wild boar ragu? Do NOT get me started (where can I even get wild boar?! * note to self; befriend hunters).

And now, NOW that I can no longer saunter down and stuff myself full of potato fluff goodness (with a delicate crispy coating) I have to dedicate the rest of my life to perfecting his craft. At least until he opens something else in the area. (Sean, it's not YOU - it's the space. It's cursed, I'm sure of it.)
Obsessed much? Yes.

I give you, the starting point recipe. . . (also, how do I get invited to this mystical gathering of Bay Area Food Bloggers please and thank you?) I am NOT currently interested in these shell beans however; I favor parmesan crusted, brown buttery goodness to start, and then maybe the wild boar ragu. But, we all must start somewhere and this Heidi Swanson dame has got my mouth watering so I'll forgive her her summer version.

Golden, Crispy Gnocchi
Look for fresh shell beans, still in pods at your farmers' markets. This time I used cranberry beans, not being able to resist their vibrant, mottled pink pods. I also added a few handfuls of butter beans, and of course favas (which I can get here at the market through November). Most beans you can pop right out of the pod and throw into a pot of boiling water to cook. Favas you need to remove the beans from their big outer pods, give them a quick boil (a minute or two), drain, rinse with cold water to cool them off, and then pop them out of their light colored inner shell. Intensive but worth it.

I buy fresh gnocchi from a pasta maker at the farmers' market as well. Throw them right in a well-seasoned pan with some clarified butter, toss and let them brown on each side, no boiling. This is not a typo.

fresh shell beans (try a mix of fava, cranberry beans, butter beans), shelled, roughly three cups of beans

1 pound fresh gnocchi

1/2 pound chanterelle mushrooms (optional - if you can't get chanterelles, skip the mushrooms)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced

a big handful of small cherry tomatoes, halved

clarified butter or extra virgin olive oil

splash of cream (optional)
freshly grated parmesan (optional)

Take the shelled beans and cook each type of bean in its own pot of water. They will take between 10 and 20 minutes to cook (taste to tell when they are done). Drain and salt to taste. Set aside. See header notes re: fava beans.

Heat a couple tablespoons of clarified butter (or olive oil) in a large well-seasoned (or non-stick) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi in a single layer and toss to coat with the butter. Let them cook until they are golden brown on the bottoms and then use a metal spatula to flip the gnocchi. Cook until they are golden all over. Salt, transfer to a platter and set aside.

Clean out that same big skillet, add a bit more butter or oil, and over medium-high heat saute the mushrooms, shallots and thyme along with a few pinches of salt and pepper. The mushrooms will release a bit of moisture, keep cooking, and let them get a bit of color (another minute or two).

Toss the cooked shell beans into the skillet with the mushrooms, add the tomatoes and cook for another few seconds. Remove from heat and stir in a splash of cream if you like. Pour the beans and mushrooms over the gnocchi and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Serve family style on a big plate or platter.

Serves 4-6.

Wait. What do you mean I just pan sear them in butter? That's it? That's all? This doesn't require virgin sacrifice and listening to old Beatles records backwards? No chanting? No dancing? Just. . . butter?
I'm a little disappointed.

Okay, looks like it's time to start working on that wild boar ragu then.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... Remind me to send you the invite for our January bloggers dinner in Oakland.