Gnudi = Nude Morsels?

November 29, 2016

I was there to see beautiful naked women. So was everybody else. It is a common failing.
~Robert Heinlein

Well, it appears the title says all because gnudi are simply translated from the Italian language into nudity. (The word means just how it sounds in English — naked “pasta.”) Really, need one say more as you cavort about in nakedness together and then prep, serve, and gorge on fine fodder and perhaps have some quaff alongside. Sounds like a sublime day/evening.

Unlike their dumpling cousins gnocchi, gnudi are not made with potatoes, but with ricotta and semolina fused/buried overnight to create a more silky dish.

Ingenious, shrewd, perhaps sublimely lewd (thanks to The Spotted Pig, a gastropub in the West Village, NYC).

Gnudi

1 C fresh ricotta cheese
1 C parmigiano-reggiano, grated+
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolks, local
1 t nutmeg, grated
2 T fresh chives, minced

1/2 C all purpose flour
4 C semolina flour
3 T unsalted butter

12+ sage leaves
Parmgiano-Reggiano, grated
Black pepper, freshly ground
Capers, drained (optional)

Combine the first five (5) ingredients in a glass bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. The mixture should be airy, fluffy.

Fold in the 1/2 C of flour until it is combined with the ricotta mixture, adding more flour by the tablespoon if needed so that the mixture is not too sticky to roll into 1″-2″ or so oblong balls.

Roll the ricotta mixture into balls (dumpling shaped) and place in a glass dish that has 1/4″ of the semolina sprinkled on the bottom. When there is a layer, cover the balls completely with flour and begin another layer by way of wax or parchment paper. Finish by completely burying the ricotta balls in an even layer and transfer to the fridge and leave overnight, so the ricotta fuses with the semolina to form a delicate skin, leaving about 1″ or so between each.

Allow the gnudi to come to room temperature, and prepare the brown butter (otherwise known as beurre noisette). In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. When the butter solids begin to brown and the butter is foamy, add the sage leaves until the mix turns a nutty brown color.

Meanwhile, bring a well salted heavy pot of water to boil. Gently plop the gnudi into the boiling water. Cook for about 1-2 minutes or so. They do not need long to boil at all, then drain with a slotted spoon.

Place a heavy skillet over medium high heat and cook, shaking the pan and gently stirring the gnudi until the butter and pasta water emulsify into a creamy sauce, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt.

Transfer gnudi and brown butter to deep bowls. Top with fried sage leaves and drizzle with browned butter. Sprinkle with grated parmigiano-reggiano, ground black pepper and strewn capers. Serve promptly.

Steak Au Poivre

February 7, 2009

Kissing don’t last; cookery do!
~George Meredith

V-Day approaches…that holiday which may surpass New Year’s Eve as the year’s ultimate amateur hour. On this junk card laden day, too many couples who have rarely expressed their passion for one another for the preceding 364, decide to profess their true affection. Isn’t it better just to say “these three words” each mundane weekday?

A classic choice for this event is this bistro style, pepper crusted steak which takes little kitchen time — a quickie of sorts.

A word to the wise: ask your local butcher to freshly cut your steaks to your liking, specs that day at the store, and avoid settling for the precut meat in the glass case. Remember, cutting meat is his/her chosen avocation.

STEAK AU POIVRE

2 steaks, thick, freshly cut strip or ribeye
4 T coarsely cracked fresh peppers (primarily black, but also white, green, Szechuan)
Coarse sea salt

2 T olive oil
2 T unsalted butter
4 gently smashed, but intact, garlic cloves

1/2 C cognac or brandy
1/2 C veal or chicken stock
3 T Dijon mustard
1/2 C crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream

Season steaks with sea salt, then generously pepper both sides of with freshly cracked peppers. Press, massage the peppers into the meat, encrusting them fairly heavily. Let stand at room temperature for at least one hour.

Add smashed garlic, olive oil and butter to sauté pan over medium high heat — do not allow garlic to turn dark brown or it will become bitter. Remove smashed cloves and discard garlic, then add steaks, cooking to medium rare, usually 3-4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the cut, of course). The notion is medium rare with a nice crust on the outsides. Transfer steaks to platter and loosely tent with foil.

Deglaze pan by adding cognac and cook until liquor begins to evaporate; then, add stock and cook until reduced more than a half. Whisk in Dijon mustard until it is incorporated and smooth in texture. Add cream and some additional cognac to fortify; then increase heat some and allow to lightly simmer until thickened. Place steaks back into the sauce until just nicely bathed on both sides (no cooking here), remove to plates and serve, spooning sauce over each.

Accompany with mashed potatoes, new potatoes with dill, gratin dauphinois, roasted asparagus with pine nuts or a salad with radishes, and a full bodied Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux, California cabernet sauvignon or Oregon zinfandel.

Pourboire: for an even lighter version, ditch the sauce and grill the peppered steak over hot coals.