Gnocchi with Mushroom Ragu
Adapted from Food & Wine, Serious Eats and Smitten Kitchen
3 pounds russet potatoes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds mixed mushrooms, such as porcini, oyster and hen-of-the-woods, quartered if large (cremini work equally well and are more widely available)
Freshly ground pepper
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup vegetable or chicken broth, plus more if making sauce ahead of time
To make the Gnocchi
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Set on a wire rack over a baking tray. Bake for 45 minutes – one hour until tender throughout. Rotate halfway through for even cooking. In the meantime, prepare the mushroom ragu.
2. Remove the potatoes from the oven once tender, let cool slightly. Using tongs or a kitchen towel to hold potatoes, peel them, being cautious of the steam they will release.
3. If you have a potato ricer, that is the right tool for the job. If you don’t… try Smitten Kitchen’s solution and use a box grater. Or my solution and use a food processor with the grater attachment. (Honestly, it is not perfect, but it’s also not a mono-tasker!) Rice or grate potatoes onto a clean work surface, let cool for a few more minutes. Transfer to a large bowl using a bench scraper.
4. Gently stir in egg, egg yolk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and ½ cup cheese.
5. Add flour a little at a time to the potato mixture, mixing with your hands. Use only as much as you need so that dough does not stick to your hands. Bring dough together with your fingertips and transfer dough, and bits in the bowl, to a cleaned and well floured work surface. Using a fold and press motion, gently knead until smooth. (Serious Eats cautions against using the smearing motion commonly used when kneading bread.) Once the dough is a uniform texture separate it into four balls.
6. Clean work surface well, and dust with fresh flour. Roll out one of the four pieces using your fingertips into a long rope about 3/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 1 inch pieces using a bench scraper. Transfer to a floured baking tray.
If you want the traditional gnocchi shape, press each piece of dough against the tines of a fork. With your finger, gently roll the dough over the back of the fork creating indents.
7. To cook the gnocchi, place them into a pot of boiling and well-salted water. Stir once very gently with a spider or slotted spoon to prevent sticking. After a few minutes the gnocchi will float to the top. Continue to cook for one minute then remove with a spider or slotted spoon, shaking gently to drain before placing in serving bowl.
8. Serve topped with mushroom ragu and a healthy sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
To make the Mushroom Ragu
1. In a very large skillet, cook mushrooms in batches by melting 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add half of the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until tender and just browned, about 7 minutes. Add half each of the shallots, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. In the skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and repeat with the remaining mushrooms, shallots, garlic and thyme.
2. Return all of the mushrooms to the skillet. Stir in the wine and cook until nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the broth and season the ragù with salt and pepper; keep warm over low heat.
4. When ready to serve stir in extra broth to get to desired consistency and warm through.
Notes on the Ragu:
Ragu can be made ahead and set on low on a back burner or even refrigerated for up to a day, before serving add just enough chicken broth to rewet ingredients and create a sauce to your preferred consistency.
It may seem finicky to cook the mushrooms in batches, but this is important to promote browning and prevent them from just getting mushy from steaming them in their own juices when they are crowded in a pan. Take the time to cook the mushrooms in batches, and you will be rewarded with delicious browned rich flavor.