A hearty dish with deep flavored wild mushrooms
Porcini gnocchi are homemade potato dumplings flavored with wild mushrooms and served with a creamy mushroom and garlic sauce
As summer fades into autumn, meal ideas begin turning to classic dishes that fill the belly and warm the soul. It’s also the time to forage for wild mushrooms and combining the two is a perfect way to celebrate the changing of the season. With potatoes still coming in from the allotment, and fresh spinach and chives growing at home, I thought that there was no better way to prepare wild mushrooms than by including them in a hearty dish of homemade gnocchi. I was so right!
One of the most coveted of all wild mushrooms is the Cep, also known as the Penny Bun, or Porcini. You can find them growing wild from August to November and they’re very easy to identify. Though some prepare their Ceps fresh, drying them is said to intensify the flavor and make them easier to store. A little goes a long way and even a pinch of dried Ceps adds a deep mushroomy flavor to any savory dish.
If you’ve not had gnocchi before, they are essentially bite-sized potato dumplings. Ordinarily made plain, you can also season them with spices, dried herbs, and dried mushrooms. These tasty bites of ultimate comfort food are very filling and are often served with an accompanying sauce.
They are fairly easy to make from scratch but time will be saved if you have a mouli (food mill). If not, no problem, but you will need either a potato ricer or a metal sieve.
For the Gnocchi
- 1 Kg Floury potatoes 2.2lbs
- 3 Eggs Medium
- 1/8 tsp fine Sea Salt
- 300 g Plain flour 2-1/3 cups
- 1 tsp Porcini Mushroom powder 15g -- homemade or purchased
For the Sauce
- 60 g Unsalted butter
- 4 Garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 cup dried Porcini Mushrooms
- 100 ml Boiling water
- 400 ml Single cream
- 300 g Button Mushrooms, sliced
- 4 tsp Grated Parmesan (or a Vegetarian option) 20g
- 2 Tbsp chopped chives
- 2 handfuls Baby spinach
Make the Gnocchi
- Boil the potatoes with their skins on in well salted water - I used about 1 tsp salt in the water. Cook until you can just run a fork or knife through the potatoes then drain the water off. If you boil them for too long then excess water will seep into the potatoes.
- Skin the potatoes while they're still hot and pass them through the Mouli (food mill, potato ricer, sieve) until no lumps can be seen. I skinned the potatoes by scraping the skin away with a butter knife and made sure not to squish the potato ribbons coming out of my own sieve since you're trying to get as much air as possible into the mash.
- Beat the eggs and then pour them into a well you've made in the centre of your mash. Stir it in well and then gradually add the sifted flour, salt, and Porcini powder, mixing well. The end result should remind you of pastry dough.
- Flour your work surface and roll the gnocchi dough out to a thickness of about 1/2cm (1/4") and then slice the dough into 2.5 cm/ 1" thick ribbons.
- Roll each ribbon into a 'sausage' and then line them up side by side. Cut across the entire line of rolls so that you have pieces about 2.5cm / 1" long. Press the back of a fork into the top of each and then form each Gnocchi into a regular shape. The gnocchi will initially be a golden doughy colour but will darken if you keep them overnight in the refrigerator.
- Bring a pan of water to a boil and add your gnocchi one at a time and allow to boil until the little dumplings are all floating at the surface of the water. It will take about ten or fifteen minutes and if you allow them to boil while you're making the sauce then both sauce and gnocchi should be ready at the same time.
Make the Sauce
- Reconstitute the dried porcini by adding them to the 100ml boiling water. They'll need about ten minutes to soften up.
- Melt the butter in a pan and then add the garlic. I passed my cloves through a garlic press but you can also mince them finely. Cook until soft and fragrant then add the salt, cream and porcini mushrooms, water and all.
- Add the sliced mushrooms and allow to cook on medium-low until the mushrooms are soft.
- Add the drained gnocchi to the sauce along with the Parmesan cheese. Stir well and then add the chives and baby spinach. Serve immediately and enjoy ~