Whole Wheat Gnocchi Stroganoff Recipe

Whole Wheat Gnocchi Stroganoff Recipe Recipe

The term "stroganoff" is synonymous with beef, but for this dish I made everything vegetarian. I used the usual ingredients needed for the sauce, which originated from Russia: mushrooms, onions, shallots, vodka, sour cream, coarse-grain mustard and tomato paste, but I paired it with my homemade gnocchi. This was my first experiment with making gnocchi from whole wheat flour. To ensure that the pasta turned out moist and to enhance the flavor, I added goat ricotta cheese.

If you have a vegetarian in the house as I do, finding an alternative to meat dishes isn't as complicated as it seems. Try this recipe, and you'll agree.

Ingredients

Yields: 8 servings

2 pounds Russet potatoes (about 3)
1-1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons goat ricotta cheese (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
2 shallots, sliced
10 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
6 tablespoons butter
1-½ cups homemade vegetable stock, warmed for 1 minute in the microwave
1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
3/4 cup vodka (optional), warmed 30 seconds in the microwave
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons walnuts (optional), coarsely chopped


Directions

Boiling the potatoes:

Peel the potatoes, cut them into 2-inch chunks and place them in a large pot. Add cold water until the potatoes are barely covered. It's important to start with cold water so the potatoes cook evenly. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat to medium-high (if you cook the potatoes at a full boil, they might fall apart). As soon as the water return to a boil, cook for about 25-30 minutes. Test, using a fork; the potatoes should be slightly tender but still firm. Remove from the pot. Drain the potatoes thoroughly and let them cool a little (do not rinse and let the liquid evaporate).


Forming the gnocchi:

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs using a fork.

Reserve about 2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup all-purpose flour. In a bowl, combine the rest of the all-purpose flour and the whole wheat flour.

Using a potato masher or a potato ricer, mash the potatoes. They should be fluffy and airy. Add ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and the turmeric powder. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure the potatoes are cooled enough, so the eggs don't cook. Form a well in the center of the potatoes and pour in the egg mixture. Add about ½ cup of flour and the goat ricotta cheese. Mix until the batter is smooth. Do NOT over-mix. Add about 5 tablespoons of oil. Add the rest of the flour and knead the dough until it becomes a smooth dough ball.

Create 4 (1-¼" diameter) 16-inch logs. Using a paring knife, cut the logs into 1-¼" pieces.

Flatten each piece into a round and fold the edges together to form an oval shape. This step will create a moist, less dense pasta. Dust the formed gnocchi with flour.


Boiling the gnocchi:

Bring about 3 quarts of water to boil; you need a large amount of water. Add the gnocchi, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta is cooked all the way through evenly. Cook the pasta for about 3-4 minutes total until the gnocchi float to the surface. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the gnocchi and they will be fluffy and more tender) and keep gently stirring every now and then so they don't stick to the bottom.

When the gnocchi are cooked, reserve about 1/3 cup of pasta water and drain the gnocchi (do NOT rinse). Let stand in a colander.


How to make stroganoff sauce:

How to flambé vodka: When flaming alcohol, I'm always very cautious and have a fire extinguisher within reach. In a pan, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots, onions and thyme; cook until slightly golden. Transfer to a plate and add the sliced shiitake mushrooms to the pan. Cook for about a minute. Add the warm vodka; a digital thermometer should read 130°F to be able to ignite vodka. Immediately light the alcohol and allow to cook until all the flames disappear. It's not as scary as it seems!

In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-low; you don't want the butter to burn. Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the butter should be hot and golden) and add 1/3 cup flour. Keep stirring manually with a whisk for approximately 2-3 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter instantly and form a paste. Add the vegetable stock in 3 stages. Add the mustard, sour cream and tomato paste. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir well. Add the mushrooms and let the sauce rest until it's time to assemble the dish.

Note: You might want to reserve a few mushrooms slices and sautéed onions for garnish later.


Assembly time:

In a large NON-STICK sauté pan, heat the rest of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until they're slightly golden. Add the gnocchi pasta and the remaining butter. Toss the gnocchi by moving the pan in a circular motion (the pan should be lifted in a low angle to facilitate the movement). Season with salt and pepper. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add the reserved pasta water. Transfer to a large serving platter. Cover with stroganoff sauce.

I garnished the dish with parsley leaves and chopped walnuts. Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!


Tips

I used Russet potatoes because they are starchier than other varieties.

Potato
ricer

A big no-no  is to mash potatoes in a food processor or a blender; the texture will be gooey and sticky and the result won't be good. The best way is to use a food mill, a potato masher or a potato ricer. You can also manually mash the potatoes using food service disposable gloves. And most important, do NOT over-work the mashed potatoes.

Potato
Ricer Picture

Don't use too much turmeric. We use it as a natural food coloring that makes the russet potatoes look more vibrant.

To make a roux (butter-flour combination), I always use all the ingredients at the same temperature, so make sure to heat the vegetable broth in the microwave for about 2 minutes (or in a saucepan), so it's warm. If you get lumpy pieces in the sauce, don't hesitate to use a hand blender.

I added goat ricotta cheese (click on the link for more recipes using this ingredient) to the gnocchi dough to make the pasta more moist. I buy it at a local store, called the Milk Pail Market - 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040, but you can order online if you can't find it, or simply substitute regular cow's  milk ricotta cheese.

I'm a wuss when it comes to flaming alcohol. If you have long hair like me, put it in a bun! You have to act quickly and have good reflexes. Once you add the vodka to the pan, don't delay the lighting. You don't want the food to absorb the raw alcohol and retain a strong vodka flavor. Another important thing is that alcohol 's boiling point is 175°F (much lower than water); if you boil vodka, you won't be able to flame it and it will just burn off the alcohol from the vodka.

Count about 10 gnocchi per person.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on April 6, 2010.


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