Dill Gnocchi with Lobster and Mushrooms
Gnocchi (Italian for dumplings) are fun to make and students in my cooking classes are usually quite amazed with how easy they can be to produce.
The decorative ridges that you see in most gnocchi are optional. Texture, like these ridges, make it easier for the sauce to adhere to the pasta surface. I use a fork in this recipe to make the ridges on the back of the gnocchi, which works fine. A gnocchi board is a ribbed wooden board specifically designed for making the ridges on the back of gnocchi. This unique tool makes the process much quicker and forms more uniform dumplings. Below is a photo of my collection of gnocchi boards. The three on the left are the traditional boards I purchased in Tuscany and are made from olive wood. The one on the far right is typical of the ones you find here in the USA and is made from a softer wood. The two oval shaped boards on the center are coarser and produce fewer deeper ridges to the gnocchi.
Fresh wild mushrooms are seasonal and their availability can be limited. If you can only find more common cultivated varieties like portabella and shiitake mushrooms, try adding some reconstituted dried mushrooms to the mix. Soak your dried mushrooms in warm water to cover for about 15 minutes to reconstitute. Chop the mushrooms and add as you would the fresh. Decant the soaking liquid, discarding any sand or grit at the bottom of the bowl and add the liquid with the clam juice for a more flavorful reduction.
Dill Gnocchi with Lobster and MushroomsCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium
Two 1 1/2 pound live Maine lobsters
1 batch Dill Gnocchi (recipe below)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fresh wild mushrooms (morels, porcini, oyster, trumpet, chanterelles, etc.), cleaned
1 bag baby spinach (6 ounces)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
4 sprigs fresh dill for garnish
- Dill Gnocchi
2 large baking Idaho potatoes (2 pounds)
2 Tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for working the dough)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- For the lobsters, fill a large (9-quart or larger) stockpot with 2 inches of water, cover and
bring to a boil. Add the live lobsters, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the water and let cool. When cool, crack the lobsters and remove the meat from the claws, knuckles and tails (discarding the vein). Discard shells and reserve the lobster meat.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to reheat the precooked dill gnocchi.
- Rip the mushrooms into pieces about the size of a quarter. Place a large sauté pan over
medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and garlic and cook for 20 seconds while stirring. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the cooked lobster meat and heat through. Add the baby spinach and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook briefly, lightly wilting the spinach. Remove the mixture from the pan, cover and keep warm.
- Return the pan to high heat and add the white wine and clam juice. Reduce until almost dry and add the heavy cream. Reduce the cream by half, resulting in a nice smooth cream sauce. Finish the sauce with the chopped dill, lemon juice and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- While the cream is reducing, drop the dill gnocchi in the boiling water and reheat for 2 minutes. Drain quickly and toss into the finished sauce. Divide the gnocchi between four serving bowls and top with the lobster-mushroom mixture.
- Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a sprig of fresh dill.
- Dill Gnocchi
- Place the cleaned potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking the potatoes for about 30 minutes after the boil has been reached.
- Using a kitchen towel to hold the potatoes, peel them with a paring knife while they are still hot. Press them through a potato ricer onto a clean counter and gently spread them out to cool.
- Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk together with the dill, salt, white pepper and nutmeg.
- Mound the cooled potatoes on the counter and pour the beaten egg mixture into a well in the center. Mix the egg slowly into the potatoes and start adding the flour and Parmesan cheese in batches, kneading the mixture into a dough. Knead the dough for 2 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Take one piece of dough and roll it into a rope about 1/2 inch thick. Use flour if necessary to prevent the dough from sticking and slice the rope into 1/2- inch pieces.
- To form the gnocchi shape: If you’re right-handed, hold a dinner fork (facing up) in your left hand with the tines resting on the counter at a 45-degree angle. Flour your left thumb, start the piece of dough at the top of the tines and gently press the dough into the tines as you roll it down to the base of the tines. As the dough rolls down, allow it to form around your thumb, creating the indentation on the smooth side while the other side forms ribs from the tines of the fork.
- Place the gnocchi on a floured parchment-lined baking sheet and continue forming gnocchi with all of the dough.
- Cooking the gnocchi: After being formed, the gnocchi need to be cooked immediately in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook in two batches unless you have an enormous pot. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water a few at a time, stirring continuously. When the gnocchi begin to float on the surface, cook them for 1 more minute and remove them to a lightly oiled baking sheet to cool in a single layer.