Gnocchi with Morels and Spring English Peas
Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home (Artisan, 2009)
“Their versatility makes gnocchi an ideal item to have on hand. Use them as a garnish or serve them as a meal. We serve small gnocchi but they can be shaped larger if desired. Part of what makes this a great recipe is that the gnocchi freeze so well, and they can go directly from the freezer into boiling water so they’re always at the ready.”
- 2 pounds russet potatoes
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 1/2 cup English peas
- 24 morels
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/2 pound butter, cut into half-inch cubes
- Canola oil, to coat pan
- 3 tablespoons chicken stock
- Champagne vinegar, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pea shoots (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the potatoes for 1 hour, or until they are completely cooked and the flesh is dry. Split the potatoes, scoop out the flesh, and press it through a potato ricer. Place the hot potato flesh on a board or counter. Make a well in the center. Place a layer of about 1/2 cup flour in the well, add the egg yolks, then add about 1/2 cup more flour and 1 tablespoon salt. Use a dough scraper to mix the potatoes into the flour and eggs. This process should be done quickly (15 to 30 seconds), as overworking the dough will make the gnocchi heavy and sticky. Add more flour as necessary. The resulting dough should be homogeneous and barely sticky on the outside. Shape the dough into a ball.
Roll the ball of dough lightly in flour. Pull off a section of the dough and roll it by hand on a lightly floured surface into a rope about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and, using your hand, roll each piece into a ball. Then roll the balls on a gnocchi paddle or over the back of a fork to create an oval shape with indentations. Test one gnocchi by placing it in a large pot of rapidly boiling lightly salted water. It is cooked as soon as it floats to the surface. Taste for seasoning and texture and add salt to the dough if necessary, or add a bit more flour if the gnocchi seems mushy. Continue forming the remaining gnocchi, placing them on a lightly floured tray until ready to cook.
Place the gnocchi in the boiling water. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove them as they rise to the surface. Place the cooked gnocchi into a bowl of ice water. Once they have cooled (about 2 minutes) drain them briefly on paper towels or a kitchen sheet. Lay them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Store in the pan in the refrigerator if they will be used shortly (up to a day), or place them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, they can be stored in well-sealed plastic bags and kept frozen for several weeks; cook them while they are still frozen.
To prepare the peas, blanch the peas in a large pot with lots of salted water, about 2 minutes. When cooked, plunge into ice water.
To prepare the morels, clean the mushrooms by submerging them in a large bowl with cold water several times. Repeat process with new water until the water remains clear. Lay mushrooms out on a drying rack for thirty minutes, or until dry.
In a medium saucepan bring the water to a simmer. Over low heat, gradually whisk in the butter one cube at a time to make a beurre monté. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste, and add the morels. All of the morels should be submerged in the beurre monté. Cook on low heat for approximately 20 minutes or until the morels are tender all the way through. Remove morels with a slotted spoon and place on a rack to drain. Set aside about 3 tablespoons of beurre monté. The remaining butter can be used when cooking vegetables and is great for dressing pasta.
In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat only until fragrant. Pour off the excess oil, leaving only enough to coat the pan. Toss in the gnocchi and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Add the chicken stock and morel-scented butter and let it simmer for a minute. Add the English peas and morels and reduce to a sauce-like consistency, about a minute. Season with vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Plate immediately and garnish with pea shoots if using.