April 24, 2010

Gnocchi with Bison and Mushroom Ragu

For the longest time, I had wanted to make fresh pasta but had been too intimidated to try, but when I saw a recipe for gnocchi with pork ragu in Bon Appetit, I knew it was time to get down to it. I then promptly berated myself for waiting so long: it was fun, satisfying, and delicious! The dish was so addictive that I had to make it again a few nights later. A girl's gotta make up for lost time, right?

I decided to use ground bison instead of pork since it was more convenient, and I'd wanted to cook with bison meat for a while. Two birds, one stone: that's how we roll at WTF. I was also doubtful whether the gnocchi would turn out well as the blocks of dough plopped and sunk into the boiling water, but lo and behold, they miraculously floated up after a minute. Success!

Potato Gnocchi
from Bon Appetit, February 2010
6-8 servings

1-1/2 lbs russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 cup (or more) all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400ยบ. Pierce the potatoes in several places with a fork and bake until soft, about 1 hour. Cool slightly and cut in half. Scoop out the hot flesh and mash the potatoes--I used a pastry knife, but definitely use a potato ricer or food mill if you have one (even wielding a pastry knife with judicious menace didn't get rid of all the lumps). Spread out the mashed potatoes and cool.

Transfer cool potatoes to a large bowl and add 1 cup flour. Toss to coat, then form a well in the center of the mixture. Drop in the egg yolk, salt, and nutmeg. Stir with a fork until the mixture is evenly moistened, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until it comes together, dusting with flour very lightly only if dough is very sticky. Form dough into a ball and divide into quarters. Roll each piece into 3/4" thick rope and cut into 3/4" pieces.

Cook gnocchi (in batches) in a large pot of boiling salted water until they rise to the surface. Let them simmer until cooked through and tender, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes. Remove one gnocco and cut in half to make sure the pasta is cooked all the way through. If so, remove from heat, drain, and drizzle with olive oil to prevent them from sticking to each other.

Potato Gnocchi with Bison and Mushroom Ragu
adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2010
6-8 servings

1 ounce dried mushrooms (I used a medley, original recipe called for porcini)
1-1/2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lb ground bison
2 ounces coppa or prosciutto, chopped
6 ounces fresh mild Italian sausages, casings removed (about 2 links)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cups crushed tomatoes
3-1/4 cups chicken broth, divided
2 bay leaves
8 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
coarse salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
potato gnocchi
1 cup grated Parmesan

Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms, cover, and let stand until soft, about 30-45 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and chop coarsely. Reserve the soaking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle bison with salt and pepper and saute until browned in some spots. Transfer to a bowl, reduce heat to medium, and add coppa or prosciutto. Stir 1 minute and add sausages until brown, breaking up into small pieces, about 3 minutes. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Cover pot and cook vegetables until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add 2 cups stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add tomatoes, 1 cup broth, bay leaves, bison, re-hydrated mushrooms, and reserved mushroom soaking liquid (just leave any sediments behind). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until bison is cooked through and some of the liquid has evaporated. (Comparing the cooking times from the first and second times I made this, the first try was more flavorful as I had simmered the ragu longer. I think it was 30 minutes compared to 15.) Add more broth if the ragu becomes too dry.

When the ragu is almost done, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crimini mushrooms and garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until they begin to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup stock and simmer until the crimini are soft, about 4 minutes. Stir into ragu and season with salt and pepper. Stir in basil and add gnocchi. Sprinkle with parmesan, serve, and enjoy!

1 comment:

colin said...

this sounds so darn good i'm in breakfast mode but thinking dinner now. love bison.