Lunchbreak: Chef Jonathon Sawyer makes potato gnocchi with meat sauce

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Chef Jonathon Sawyer

Chicago Gourmet
Bon Appetit Culinary Stage
12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

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Noodle Kids: Around the World in 50 Fun, Healthy, Creative Dinners the Whole Family Can Cook Together

Classic Potato Gnocchi with Catcher’s Italian Meat Sauce

2 Idaho potatoes
1 1/2 to 2 cups (188 to 250 g) organic all-purpose flour
3 large organic eggs, beaten
1 recipe Catcher’s Italian Meat sauce
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
6 Tablespoons (24 g) chopped fresh herbs (choose your favorite: oregano, parsley, basil)
2 Tablespoons (14 g) toasted bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons (12 g) grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 325f (170C, or gas mark 3) and roast the potatoes until fully cooked through, about 50 minutes. Tip A cake tester makes a great potato tester. When it goes through the potato without resistance, the potato is done. Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature. Boiling the potatoes is also a perfectly fine option, just skin them and boil until a cake tester or toothpick goes through without resistance. Spilt the potatoes and scoop out all the flesh, leaving all the skin behind. Use the food mill, potato ricer, or potato masher to mash the potatoes. Combine the potatoes with 1 ½ cups (188 g) of the flour in the stand mixer using a dough hook or on a cutting board. If using the cutting board, shape the potato-flour mixture into a volcano shape to contain the eggs during the mixing process. Add the eggs to the mixer or “volcano” and stir until just combined. The dough should be slightly sticky, but if it is too sticky, add more flour. Shape the dough into a rectangle and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Dust a wooden cutting board with flour. Cut a 1-inch (2.5 cm) wide piece from the dough rectangle and roll the piece
of dough between your hands on the cutting board to make a long cylinder or snake about as thick as a roll of quarters. Cut the cylinder into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Place on a flour-dusted cookie sheet and store in the freezer. Fancy home cooks can fork it instead of a knife and roll them on a gnocchi board for that classic look. In a large saucepan, warm the meat sauce over low heat. Fill a large pot with water and season with salt until it tastes like seawater. Bring to a boil over high heat. Blanch 8 gnocchi at a time, for about 7 minutes per batch. Gnocchi are done when they bob to the top and float there for a minute. Transfer each batch of gnocchi to the sauce and simmer for an additional 3 minutes to allow the noodle and sauce to become one. Garnish with the olive oil, herbs, bread crumbs, and Parmesan.
Yield: 6 servings

Catcher’s Italian Meat sauce

1/2 pound (227 g) pancetta or lightly smoked bacon
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2  bulb fennel, chopped
5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons (8 g) chopped fresh herbs (choose your favorite: oregano, parsley, basil)
1/2  pound (227 g) 70% lean grass-fed beef
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 cup (235 ml) dry italian red wine
1 cup (235 ml) whole organic milk
2 cups (500 g) tomato passato  (tomato puree)

Combine the pancetta, olive oil, onion, celery, carrot, fennel, garlic, and herbs in the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and well combined. (this mixture is often known as the soffrito.) Sauté the soffrito slowly over low heat, stirring often, approximately 25 minutes. If you’d like to, you can roast the soffrito first covered, then uncovered, to achieve maximum vegetable flavor extraction. Add the beef and anchovy paste to the soffrito and increase the heat to high. Lightly brown the meat, using a potato masher to achieve a fine texture. Add the wine and cook over medium-high heat until 90 percent of the wine has evaporated. Add the milk and continue to cook over medium-high heat until 70 percent of the milk has evaporated. (It will appear to curdle. this is just part of the magic.) Add the tomato passato/puree, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes.
Yield: 1 quart (940 ml)


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