Gnocchi with chestnut mushrooms, fresh chilli and parmesan
13 December 2017
Although there are lots of wild mushrooms that will look fancy, quite a few of them can’t really match the flavour of some nice chestnut mushrooms that you’ll find at most supermarkets. I had some gnocchi still frozen in the fridge from the last time I made them, so I decided I would use them with something with a bit more of an umami / spicy kick than my usual - which lately has been to have them with blue cheese sauce.
I got baby chestnut mushrooms - although standard size would be just fine. I chopped these up and sautéed lightly in some olive oil and a little butter - with garlic and half a fresh red chilli - both sliced thinly. I like spicy, so I got medium hot chilli and used half. It was exactly right for me, but your mileage may differ.
Once the mushrooms had reduced in size and browned nicely, I added about 150ml of stock. In this case, I had some left over chicken stock to use - some really thick and flavourful stock. But obviously if you’re looking for a vegetarian / vegan version (and my gnocchi doesn’t use egg, so it can go to vegan if you wish) then a good vegetable stock is fine.
I simmered this for about five minutes, until the stock was reducing down and the liquid had achieved a nice light sauce consistency. I checked the seasoning (you can add a little salt at the beginning, but not too much as when the sauce becomes more concentrated it will become more salty too) and then took off the heat while cooking the gnocchi, pausing only to add some chopped flat leaf parsley.
It only takes a minute or two for my frozen gnocchi to cook - you can tell when it’s ready because it floats to the top of the simmering pan. I then removed these with a slotted spoon, so they would drain, and added them carefully to the sauce.
Did I mention that I added them carefully?
Very very carefully.
The cooked gnocchi is extremely delicate - do anything too boisterous with them and you’ll have splodges of mashed potato on your hands. And that’s probably not the look you’re going for.
Having mixed them together, I transferred them into a bowl. Carefully, obviously. And then grated some nice parmesan cheese over the top, along with a little more parsley.
It was delicious - a pretty worthy candidate to pinch the crown of best Mallen gnocchi dish from the blue cheese. Partially down to the quality of the stock, which had concentrated delightfully and absorbed the earthy mushroom flavours and the chilli heat. For something so quick and painless, it delivered some real feel-good sensations for a cold winter night.
If you’ve never made gnocchi before and you fancy giving it a go, I recommend this as a great place to start.
Just remember the whole carefully thing.
Gnocchi with chestnut mushrooms, fresh chilli and parmesan
For the gnocchi
2 large baking potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 handful of plain flour
For the sauce
150g baby chestnut mushrooms (or ordinary chestnut mushrooms are fine), finely sliced
1/2 red chilli, finely sliced with the seeds removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
25g unsalted butter
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, stalks removed and leaves chopped
Prick the potato skins, rub them over with the olive oil and then bake them until they’re fully cooked. May be an hour, depending on the size of the potatoes.
Once cooked, remove the flesh from the potatoes and put it into a mixing bowl and let any moisture evaporate for five minutes or so.
Mash the potato, finely grate some nutmeg over them - just enough to get a hint of flavour. Add some salt, and then a couple of handfuls of flour. You want to be able to work the flour / potato mixture into a smooth dough that holds together but isn’t stiff. Too much, you’ll get heavy stodgy gnocchi. Too little, you’ll get potato soup when you try to cook them.
Once you’ve got your gnocchi dough, cut it into quarters and roll each quarter into a tube on a floured surface and cut each into small pieces. Roll each piece along the spines of a fork to give the distinctive stripes on one side and indent from your thumb on the other.
Place each finished piece onto a floured tray. If you’ll be cooking them almost immediately, then put them in the fridge for half an hour. Alternatively, put them into the freezer and once they’re frozen, put them into food bags or cling film and keep them until you need them. The gnocchi can be cooked from frozen, so once you’ve got them to this stage, they’re quick and convenient to pull out of the freezer and produce a meal.
Once you’re ready, put a good-sized pan of salted water on the heat to boil. While that’s heating up, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil and the mushrooms. Sautée the mushrooms gently for five minutes or so, and then add the butter, the garlic and the chilli. Cook for another few minutes until the mushrooms have reduced in size and the garlic has softened.
Add the stock and simmer for five minutes or so, until the liquid has reduced down and started to thicken. At this stage you can taste and add salt and pepper to taste, and add half of the chopped parsley.
Add the gnocchi to the simmering pan (you don’t want it to be too vigorous a rolling boil as it may break the gnocchi up). The gnocchi will initially sink to the bottom and then float to the top once they’re cooked. Probably just a minute or two. Lift them up from the water with a slatted spoon and mix them oh-so-gently in with the sauce, taking care not to mash them. Once they’re mixed in, spoon the mixture into the serving bowls. Grate a little parmesan cheese over them, plus the remaining parsley and serve.
Food waste notes:
If you end up making more gnocchi than you need, then freeze them before cooking. Put them on a floured tray into the freezer, and then - when frozen - put them into a food bag or container.
You'll probably have some parsley left over, unless you do as I do, which is to have parsley plants that I can pick from as and when I need to. If you don't or can't do the same, and you know you're not going to use it in the next three days or so (put the stems in water, it should easily last until then), then roll in up, put it into a food bag, and bung it in the freezer. You can take it out and slice off what you need.
Freezing will degrade the texture a little inevitably - so you probably want to use your frozen parsley for cooked meals rather than raw in salads.