April 22, 2007

One of the most amazing meals I've eaten.

Herb Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms and Sage Brown Butter

My husband is a man of good ideas. Making homemade gnocchi has been up on the list for awhile now and Paul's discovery of this recipe makes the previous sentence a glaring understatement. He is the idea man when it comes to branching out in the kitchen.

This amazing recipe comes from Thomas Keller and lives up to all the lofty expectations for flavor, appearance and texture one has when attempting a recipe such as this. The 4-page recipe printout has more text than I am normally accustomed to, but despite the narrative quality of the recipe, this is actually a straightforward, simple dish. This is a perfect meal in my mind, and since you can cook all the ingredients separately and ahead of time, this is easy to serve to friends.

Keller, the acclaimed chef and owner of the French Laundry in Napa Valley, throws in just enough history and explanation to excite your taste buds, while the highly detailed instructions give you confidence while you are cooking. I won’t reprint the recipe here since even if I tried, I could never paraphrase or explain the recipe better than the master himself. So, go to epicurious.com for the full recipe, or his cookbook, Bouchon. After savoring every morsel of this meal, I will definitely be purchasing the book.

This tender gnocchi is Gnocchi à la Parisienne. In actuality, this is a pâte à choux, the same dough used for cream puffs, éclairs, gougères and other delicacies. It is a tender, eggy dough that Keller places in a pastry bag and pipes little gnocchi-sized pieces into simmering water. These are then drained, and later sautéed with diced pieces of sweet butternut squash, sautéed mushrooms and shallots in fresh thyme and drizzled with a brown butter sauce flavored with fresh sage and parsley. We realized that what makes this dish go from great to amazing is the subtlety of the flavors, especially the hint of lemon in the brown butter and sage sauce which balances so well with the sweetness of the squash.

This is an herbaceous meal, to say the least, as it requires the purchase of 6 types of herbs. Other than that expense, this bistro dish is actually quite feasible to prepare by the home chef. As we were eating this gnocchi and grinning from ear to ear, we managed to sip down some nice red wine and thought about how we could’ve been sitting at a good Parisian bistro. If someone had only baked a molten chocolate cake for dessert, it would have pretty much been our version of heaven!

We love that this gnocchi recipe makes more than you need for the actual dish, so we have another portion of them waiting for us in the freezer! Oh a joyful day that will be!

My only small complaint about this recipe is the amount of oil and butter used for sautéing the squash, mushrooms and gnocchi. Keep in mind that the gnocchi are drizzled with the brown butter sauce at the end, so I don’t think every component to the dish needs to be covered in so much oil. We also thought the amount of salt in the gnocchi recipe was a little too much. Other than those small things, this was fun and so satisfying to make!

the gnocchi ready to be piped into the simmering water,
just use a knife to cut off 1-inch pieces

the gnocchi simmer for just 2-3 minutes

the cooked gnocchi awaiting their sage butter bath

butternut squash sauteing in olive oil and butter

cremini mushrooms and shallots cooked with thyme
(Keller calls for shiitake mushrooms, which I couldn't find)

the brown butter sauce is accented with fresh parsley, the juice of 1/2 a lemon and chives


Katie said...

Oh yeah, I could eat this...and eat this....and eat this!
A wonderful dish topped off with Browned Butter Sauce?
I bet you're still smiling!

Oob said...

That's it. I'm coming to visit. Be there in four hours!

Lisa said...

My god! Can't believe what I've been missing, not keeping up with your blog! This is completely out of control, and I must try it sometime. Although I'd rather just be eating it right now.

Beppe Pantera said...

I found also this gnocchi recipe on a blog, you should try it as well!


Beppe Pantera said...

It looks really good!