Gnocchi with Wild Mushroom Ragu.
I actually did go and check to see if there are any rules that guest bloggers are supposed to follow. There's some funny stuff out there. One guy actually had ten rules that he wants his guest bloggers to make sure they follow before they're allowed to post anything on his site. Even the government has rules; rules that include phrases like, "maintain a germane status," and "having a relevant resume or curriculum vitae."
The truth of it all is that I'm like every one of us who blogs. We have a passion for something and we love to share that passion. Even if only our moms' read it regularly (and maybe our spouses with us holding their arms up behind their backs), we write for them. It's all about the love pouring out, right?
Tonight my love poured selfishly. I love mushrooms. I'm the only one in my family that loves mushrooms. In fact, my husband and daughter can't even stand the smell of them. I made a dish that's main focus was wonderful, pungent, earthy mushrooms. There's nothing better than when an ingredient says something like, "2 pounds of wild mushrooms." What freedom! My wild ones included Porcini, Matsutake, Maitake, Chanterelle, and Trumpet.
Before the mushroom part however, I had to come to terms with something I've never done before; making gnocchi. I didn't really know what it was. I'm not Italian. I'm French Armenian. I do rice pilaf and pomme frites. I buy my pasta in a box. But, today I made gnocchi and I'm pretty proud of myself.
Just to be sure that I'd time this all correctly, I started by baking my potatoes pretty early in the afternoon. Food Network Magazine does a good job of providing a little section on the recipe page that explains with pictures how to make gnocchi (the more pictures, the more chances of success on my part). I followed everything exactly and I think they came out pretty well. Even though they didn't give any indication as to the quantity their recipe would make, I figured it had to be close since it was right next to the ragu recipe. For those who try this, it's about 2 pounds of gnocchi and you only need 1 1/2 for the ragu.
Speaking of ragu, (ahem), isn't the word Italian for meat sauce?
Once my gnocchi were in the freezer, I started in on the "ragu." this included cooking onions, carrots and celery, adding the onions, then tomato paste, canned whole tomatoes and seasonings. It's supposed to simmer for 30 minutes, but we had stuff going on and it smelled so good that I let it go longer. There's a wonderful aroma that wafts out with bay leaf, coriander, fennel, and thyme all mixed together. It's worth making the recipe just for that, really.
After the "ragu" had simmered down, I took the gnocchi out of the freezer and put it in a pot of boiling water, a bit apprehensively. At this point the little potato pillows are supposed to rise after three minutes or so. What if they didn't? Does that prove to be gnocchi failure? I didn't have to worry. Mine bobbed to the surface and I carefully removed them and gently mixed them in with the "ragu." I did learn that I had to be very careful. Gnocchi are fragile.
The dish is decorated with mascarpone and mint and served up. I loved it. The spice flavors are amazing. The mushroom combination was perfect. The gnocchi was disgusting. Sorry, I tried. It's slimy. I don't do slimy. Actually, I normally wouldn't do slimy but in this case I was trying to set an example for Dudette so I ate the whole bowl. It is a good thing that the sauce is so incredible. My husband, the anti-mushroom man, also thought the sauce was fantastic. It had enough spice that he could taste it over his cold (now advanced to something our doctor says is squeaking in his lungs) though not enough for him to get past the mushrooms and the slimy gnocchi thing. Dudette had two gnocchi and one mushroom, all doused heavily in sour cream. I think sour cream is the new ketchup.
For those who love gnocchi, this is an absolute win. The flavor is fantastic and very rich. The mushrooms are left to your wildest imagination since the sauce goes perfectly with them. In fact, I would make this again with a box of pasta in a heartbeat.
Thanks for bearing with me while Becky is away. Thank you, Becky, for allowing me to come visit your blog like this. I hope I didn't do too much damage.
The Mom Chef