Truffled Gnocchi Goodness
Last night, before heading to the symphony, we got dinner at the Art Restaurant & Lounge in the recently opened Four Seasons Hotel downtown, about 2 blocks away from Benaroya Hall. Overall, great experience—the service was superb as one would expect from the Four Seasons. The ambience and decoration was modern and simplistic, much like the rest of the hotel. The view mostly phenomenal were it not for the huge Public Storage building right in front–it is right on 1st Ave so there are water views aplenty. The menu consisted of food either from the “the counter”, which was literally a counter in the middle of the restaurant with a couple of chefs making the food onsite, or a few main entrees. The counter items were appetizer size but could easily be shared for a tapas-style meal. Many of the choices looked appealing and I’d like to return to try more. We opted to get the Truffled Gnocchi and it was absolutely delicious–fairly simple with shaved truffle on top. It was light, fluffy, smelled and tasted delicious.
We then each ordered from the main entrees—Matt got an aged steak and I a lamb steak. I thought the lamb was wonderfully seasoned, and the garnish of mint, yogurt and honey really added to the flavor. Matt’s steak was also well seasoned, but not evenly seasoned. Also, while the portion was perfect for me, Matt felt the steak could’ve been a larger portion. That said, the food was great and the service expediant enough to ensure finishing dinner in an hour for the symphony. We’d love to return, especially to check out the “lounge” part, which has a smaller bar menu, reasonable in price. The chef apparently came from the recently closed Cascadia that was in Belltown. He brought with him Cascadia’s famous mini-burgers, which are only offered in the lounge. We’ll definitely check it out!
Anyhoo, as if we couldn’t have enough, we had made plans to attend a potluck at a friend’s place this evening and still hadn’t decided what to make until this morning, when we got the idea to try to make truffled gnocchi on our own. At the dinner last night, we had debated about how gnocchi was made exactly and how much potato was in the flour. This was a great opportunity to find out…and we’re psyched about the results. Part of the motivation was to have truffle oil be infused in the gnocchi dough itself, rather than being dependent having it be part of the sauce. We used a “Truffled Gnocchi with Peas and Chanterelles” recipe online and it came out great. We were extremely satisfied with the results–below is the recipe as well as added tidbits or changes made, followed by a few pictures of the process:
Truffled Gnocchi with Peas and Chanterelles
The secret to making these pillow-soft gnocchi (from Boston’s Sportello) is to knead the dough as little as possible; if it’s overworked, the gnocchi become gluey and tough.
FOR THE GNOCCHI:
1 lb. russet potatoes (about 2), unpeeled
1 1/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. truffle oil
1 egg, beaten
FOR THE SAUCE:
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
10 oz. mushrooms, preferably chanterelles, roughly chopped Chanterelles weren’t in season when I went to the store, so I substituted with oyster mushrooms which tasted just as great (and are considerably cheaper!)
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup peas, fresh or frozen We used frozen and it was fine
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. finely chopped chives Got these but forgot to add–it’s just garnish so not a necessity
1. Make the gnocchi: Boil potatoes in a 4-qt. saucepan of salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. It’s best to boil the potatoes in their skin to prevent water from getting into the potatoes, otherwise, the potatoes will be too watery. I’d also read the advice to put the potatoes in the water before it begins boiling so that the skin doesn’t break. Drain the potatoes; let cool slightly and peel. Work potatoes through a food mill or a potato ricer onto a lightly floured surface. We used a potato ricer which worked great. Sprinkle the flour and salt over the potatoes and mix together with your hands. This part will be sticky (take off your rings!) but just mix it enough so that the flour and salt are evenly dispersed. Form a mound and create a well in the center; add truffle oil and egg. Gently knead dough until it just comes together, adding a little more flour if it begins to stick.
2. Lightly flour a parchment paperâ€“lined baking sheet and set aside. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a 1/2″ thickness. Cut into 1/2″-wide strips. I decided not to roll the dough mainly because I tripled this recipe since I was making it for 12-13 people. I just kneaded it to a large ball and then took out chunks to make rolls out of. Roll each strip between your hands and the work surface to form ropes. Cut each rope into 1″ segments. Working with one segment at a time, roll it down the back of a small fork so that the tines make ridges on the surface of the dough. This isn’t totally necessary–supposedly, the ridges and indentation that is the classic form of gnocchi helps it hold onto sauce better…but this can take more time to do. I did it for about half of the gnocchi I made for the heck of it, but you can certainly skip doing this and the gnocchi will still turn out great. Transfer gnocchi to the prepared baking sheet; cover with a kitchen towel and refrigerate until ready to cook.
3. Make the sauce: Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown, about 5 minutes. Raise heat to high; add cream, peas, and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until cream reduces by half. It didn’t feel like the cream sauce never reduced to half…maybe 20%. Ultimately, when we added it back to the gnocchi, it thickened. We also added just a teensy bit of truffle oil to the sauce–probably less than a teaspoon. Season mushroom sauce with salt and pepper and remove skillet from heat. Boil gnocchi in the salted water until they float, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to mushroom sauce, add chives, and toss to combine.
Cutting up the gnocchi