All weekend, as I was showing people our shiitake mushroom growing area, I was keen to pick the 2 big fat mushrooms that were well and truly ready, but thought better of it as they do look pretty impressive sitting there growing out of the oak logs. These 2 pics aren’t of the current logs, I forgot to take a photo of them, but these are of the ones I had at our last house.
The two mushrooms had grown so much we were concerned they may have hit the ‘too far’ point but we went ahead anyway. Tonight’s dinner was going to be potato gnocchi with a shiitake and asparagus Carbonara style sauce. Along with the shiitake I picked some asparagus, a big spring onion, some parsley, found a couple of eggs, and I bought some light cream and bacon to add to the sauce. While the potatoes were baking in the oven at 180c, I prepared the Carbonara style sauce.
This is for half if using 1kg potatoes as as I froze half of the uncooked gnocchi
- About 500g of mushrooms sliced. Our 2 shiitake weight about 350g and I added about 8 normal mushrooms to the mix.
- 3 rashers of good bacon or similar sliced
- 1 onion or a couple of spring onions whites chopped.
- Couple of asparagus spears cut into 3cm sections
- 4 garlic cloves (more or less as you prefer)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 300ml container light cream (can’t bring myself to write ‘Lite’)
- 1 egg yolk
- handful of Parmigiano Reggiano (I bought some excellent parmesan while in Melbourne)
Into a pan drizzle some olive oil and when hot add the bacon and onion, fry until transparent.
Add the minced garlic and sliced mushrooms and allow to cook until softened.
Add the white wine and cook off for a few minutes
Add half the cream and simmer, don’t allow to boil.
In another small bowl mix the egg yolk, rest of cream and the handful of parmesan. Rinse the cream container out with a little water and add to the sauce.
Let sit until just about ready to serve. Make your gnocchi.
Make your gnocchi.
1kg is of hot baked potatoes (I used Gippy gold but desiree would work well)
4 egg yolks
200g plain flour
pinch of nutmeg
- While potatoes are still hot remove skins and put potato through a potato ricer or food mill. If none of the above, mash or even grate but don’t add any liquid.
- Turn onto floured board and very gently mix in the flour, egg yolks, nutmeg, salt & pepper.
- Gently bring the dough together but DO NOT overwork it. If it is extremely sticky, back of with the mixing but gently incorporate some flour. Err on the side of caution, too much flour = golf ball gnocchi!
- Divide dough into about 6 pieces and roll each pice into a long piece as you would if you were rolling out play dough and cut each long pice into little pieces about 2.5cm (1″) in size. If you don’t have gnocchi paddles you can skip this bit but if you do it is a nice finishing touch to run the pieces over the paddles to create indentations that collect the sauce better.
I picked up my paddles when in Melbourne. Place the shaped gnocchi on a tray or cloth that has semolina sprinkled over it until ready to cook. Have a big pot of salted boiling water ready!I only cooked half of this mix tonight, I have frozen the ‘ready to cook’ gnocchi for next time I get the urge. For cooking, divide into smaller batches of about half or a quarter and add to the boiling water. When the gnocchi rises to the top of the water it is ready.
Turn the heat back on your sauce, set to low. Add the asparagus and remaining cream, cheese, egg and nutmeg mix, stir through. Very gently heat while gnocchi are cooking. DO NOT BOIL!
As the gnocchi pieces come to the surface of your pot, scoop them out, drain lightly and add to the sauce mix. Repeat until all gnocchi is cooked.
Serve with chopped parsley, I was a little too over zealous tonight (you could stir this through the sauce) and some extra parmesan if desired.
This was undoubtedly the nicest gnocchi and sauce we’ve had in a very long time. The shiitake mushrooms have a delicate flavour but they add such a great meatiness to the dish. By blending both varieties you create both flavour and texture. Very enjoyable!