Showing posts with label Andrew Carmellini. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Andrew Carmellini. Show all posts

Monday, October 29, 2018

The best potato gnocchi recipe



I'm not the artist here, just the technician.

The man responsible for these truly awesome gnocchi is the New York chef and restaurateur Andrew Carmellini. It's his recipe that I used, and I have used it ever since first coming across it several years ago. (Here is the link to the original and complete recipe.)

There's a good reason Carmellini titled this recipe "The Best Gnocchi."

When it comes to potato gnocchi that is exactly what they are.

I have never made a lighter, more luxurious potato gnocchi than I have when using this recipe. And so if I am not making my own cheese gnocchi recipe then I am using Carmellini's potato version.

If you enjoy a fine potato gnocchi then I strongly suggest you do the same.



Start with around two pounds of Idaho potatoes. Clean them, put them on a baking sheet, and into the oven they go (425 degrees F should do it), until the flesh is nice and soft. These took a little over an hour.

While the potatoes are baking it's best to get all of your other ingredients together and ready to go. The reason is that you'll want to mix them into the potatoes while they're still warm out of the oven. This is very important. You do NOT want the potatoes to cool down before mixing the gnocchi dough.

What you'll need is 1 beaten egg, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon course ground black pepper. In addition you'll need around 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour on hand.



When the potatoes are cooked slice them open and scoop out all the flesh while it's still warm.



Run the potato through a ricer (use the smallest die) and into a mixing bowl.



Immediately add all the other ingredients, except for the flour.



And gently incorporate, using your fingers.



Then add 1 cup of the flour and very gently mix all of the ingredients together until a dough forms. The dough should hold together but not be sticky; if it does feel sticky work in a little bit more flour. Note: Do not take the term "gently" lightly. A successful gnocchi dough requires a very light touch. Anything more forceful will make for a heavy, tough gnocchi.

Please. Trust me on this.



Form the dough into a ball and turn it onto a well-floured work surface.



With a pastry cutter (or just a knife) cut an inch-or-so-wide piece of dough from the ball.



And lightly roll it out using your fingers. (You see that I said "lightly," right?)



This is about what you'll wind up with after rolling.



Each strand you roll out then gets cut into inch-wide gnocchi, like so.



Just a note: This recipe will easily feed four people. If you don't want to cook all the gnocchi at once then lay some out on a well-floured baking sheet and put them in the freezer. Once the gnocchi are fully frozen tranfer them to a freezer bag and store.



Here, of course, we have opted for cooking the gnocchi. (In well-salted water, but you knew that.)



It will only take a couple minutes for the gnocchi to cook; as a rule of thumb figure that when they are all floating atop a rolling boil of water the gnocchi are done. Do NOT empty the gnocchi into a colander, as you might with some other pastas. Take them out of the water using a slotted spoon and transfer into a pan with whatever sauce you plan on using. Then gently stir and transfer the gnocchi to individual plates for serving.



Like so.

I promise that if you take your time and use a gentile hand you will thank me for this recipe.

Just as I thanked Chef Carmellini years ago.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pasta, sausage, grapes & wine


I was a breath away from posting two vegetarian dishes in a row when out of nowhere appeared a bunch of really nice sweet Italian sausages. They came from a local butcher here in town, a gift from an acquaintance who on occasion swings by the house, well, unannounced.

This person's timing is impeccable. Never does he/she arrive so close to dinner time that I cannot find a way to incorporate the item or items inside of the bag that arrives with them. Once it was an entire pork roast, another six different kinds of shellfish; on one particularly memorable occasion it was an 11-pound fresh turkey.

And so you could see why a mere couple pounds of sweet sausage didn't rattle me. A day earlier I had decided to alter a recipe which (coincidentally) called for sausage as a main ingredient. The recipe, Strozzapreti with Sausage, Grapes and Red Wine, was from Carmellini's "Urban Italian." I didn't have strozzapreti on hand but did have a really nice matriciani to use in its place. I was also about to substitute walnuts for the sausage (go ahead Kitty; you too Mavis and Little Glodes), but then of course my visitor showed up.


This recipe (reprinted in its entirety below) requires that you plan a day ahead, eight hours actually. The grapes need to be sliced and mixed with sugar, vinegar and wine.


Then they need to macerate overnight in the fridge.


Boil the mixture until the liquid reduces by around half. While this is happening you're also sauteing the sausage meat in another pan, as well as boiling your pasta.


Add the grapes to the sausage.


And then add the pasta, mix thoroughly, and serve.

I still think the walnuts would be a nice substitution. Next time I won't answer the doorbell. And hope my acquaintance just goes away.

Strozzapreti with Sausage, Grapes and Red Wine
Recipe
Adapted from "Urban Italian," by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman

1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half lengthwise
1 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 lb strozzapreti pasta (I used matriciani here)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lbs Italian sausage (about 4 links)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
10 sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

1. Combine the grapes, wine, sugar, and vinegar in an airtight container and store in the fridge at least 8 hours.
2. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
3. In a medium saucepot, bring the grape mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes, then remove from heat.
4. Cook the pasta until al dente.
5. Remove sausage meat from casings, heat olive oil in a pan and add the meat; cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the onion and continue cooking, stirring well, until sausage is well browned and onions have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sage leaves and stir to combine. 
7. Add the grape mixture and stir well.
8. Add the cooked pasta and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat, add the butter, cheese and black pepper, stirring well. Add the parsley and serve immediately, topped with additional cheese.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Carmellini's 'best' osso bucco


This year I hosted not one but two ladies on Valentine's Day. Shyster Jersey Lawyer Friend came by the casa, see, and I had been earlier made wise to the fact that she was desirous of some meat. (Pasta is what the woman normally seeks, preferably the homemade variety, so as to require the maximum amount of effort on my part.)

Shyster's desires provided an opportunity to try a recipe that I had been eyeing for some time: "The Best Veal Osso Bucco," from Andrew Carmellini's cookbook, "Urban Italian."

I know. Where does he get off, right?

Except that the only other recipe in the chef's book that receives such a designation is "The Best Gnocchi." I've made it. And he's right. I told him so just recently, outside the men's at his newest restaurant in New York, The Dutch. I'll show the gnocchi to you here sometime, you'll see. They're fantastic.

If you enjoy osso bucco and are in the market for an interesting way to prepare it, this recipe certainly is that. The liquid that the veal is cooked in is two parts chicken stock, one part freshly squeezed orange juice. There's only one diced tomato to be found, something you wouldn't guess from looking at the final outcome. (Hint: strands of saffron were seen in the vicinity while I was cooking and pounding back a Booker's.)

Anyway, the full recipe is reprinted below. Here are just some of the steps along the way.


First, the well-seasoned veal is seared on both sides in a dutch oven over high heat, then removed.


Then the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and such get to work. And also the tomato and a little flour.


There's white wine in here too, and once it evaporates some, it's time to bring back the veal.


Some more herbs, and lemon peel are added at this point, and then the stock and the orange juice. Next stop is the oven.


Two hours later and this is what you've got. (Actually, two hours and a full day later is when it was eaten. This kind of dish always tastes better after it has sat in the fridge overnight, and so I made this the day before V-Day.)


Is it the best osso bucco I've ever had? No. But it's definitely among the top five.

The ladies liked it a whole lot. Which is what mattered.

The Best Veal Osso Bucco
Recipe
Adapted from "Urban Italian," by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman

4 pieces veal osso bucco (about 3lbs total)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp course-ground black pepper
2 tbsp plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small carrot, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, whole
1 large tomato, chopped (1 cup)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white wine
a pinch of saffron (about 10 threads)
juice of 3 oranges (about 1 cup)
2 dried bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp whole fennel seed
2 cups chicken broth
3 to 4 curls lemon peel

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Season both sides of the osso bucco with the salt and pepper.
3. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the osso bucco and brown on both sides, about 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Remove the osso bucco from the pot and reserve it. Leave the pot on the stove over high heat.
5. Add the remaining olive oil to the pot, and then add the the carrot, onion, and celery. Stir well and allow the vegetables to soften and caramelize, about 4 minutes. Be sure to scrape the brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pot as you go.
6. Add garlic, tomato and tomato paste. Mix and cook until the tomato softens, about 1 minute.
7. Add the flour and stir until ingredients are well combined, about 1 minute.
8. Add the wine and allow it to evaporate just until the mixture becomes a loose paste, 1 to 2 minutes.
9. Stir in the saffron and orange juice. Return the osso bucco to the pot and turn the heat to low. Coat the meat in the sauce.
10. Tie the bay leaves, tyme and rosemary together with butcher's string (so that it can be removed easily before serving) and add to the pot; then add the red pepper flakes, fennel seed, broth and lemon peel.
11. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a low boil, then put the pot in the oven and cook at a lazy bubble for about 2 hours. Flip the meat over at the halfway point. It is done and ready to serve when fork tender. But the flavors will enhance if left in the fridge overnight and reheated the next day, so consider making this dish a day in advance.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Don Peppe, King of Queens


Not long ago, while watching my motley Mets get massacred by the Giants on a particularly heinous road trip, I got a frantic call from my friend Jordie, who lives in (of all places) San Francisco. She and her partner Julie were stranded at JFK in New York and were looking at another six hours before the next flight out. She was calling me in Maine to get a restaurant recommendation in Manhattan, rightly calculating that six hours was ample time for a trip into the city and back.

Considering how her Giants were eviscerating my Metropolitans on the field, I briefly considered sending her to the rattiest of rat traps as payback. Instead I opted to act the gentleman I was raised to be and counsel the woman properly.
"Forget Manhattan," I said, emboldened by an Angel Pagan double to right. "How's a five-minute cab ride sound?"
"Maybe you didn't hear me," Jordie barked into her new iPhone. "We've got six hours to kill, Meatball. Getting to the city's not a problem. What about that place you liked so much at De Niro's hotel; you know the one I mean?"
"Locanda Verde. At the Greenwich, in Tribeca. Carmellini's the chef. Yeah, it's real good."

"Right, how about that one?"
"Suit yourself. It's just that if I were in your spot there's only one place I'd even think about going, and it's right outside the JFK fence, in Ozone Park. You could walk it even."
"Ozone What?"
"Park. It's in Queens, Jordie. Just like you are right now, in case you don't know."
Silence greeted me as the top of the inning ended, the Mutts again failing to score. Then, after about a minute, came the soothing sound of an attentive friend who had embraced the notion that I would never lead her astray.
"Okay, Ozone Park it is. Where are we going?"
"Don Peppe," I belted out loudly. "It's on Lefferts Boulevard, literally across the road from the airport. The cabby'll be pissed off because of the crappy low fare, so give him a good tip. And when you get there call me, I'll tell you what to order.
"Oh, and wait, stop at the ATM first. It's cash only. And if you're looking for some company, here's my uncle Dom's number. It's his favorite restaurant. Maybe he'll even take you to the track, Aqueduct's practically next door — and he wins."
Long story short, the ladies did not call Dominic (their loss; he's the best). But they did follow my precise instructions on what to order. The two of them sat in Don Peppe the entire afternoon, they tell me, ate well and in abundance. And they have never once doubted my chow-picking prowess since.
Now it's your turn. I can't give you my uncle's number (Aunt Laura'd kill me) but I can clue you in on the dishes that will never — not once, never, nope, no way, no how, not gonna happen — disappoint. At my all-time-favorite old-school Italian, in Queens.
A couple things up front. Besides being cash only, they don't take reservations at Don Peppe, and there's no bar to sit at should you have to wait for a table, just a glass-enclosed and not terribly inviting vestibule. The dishes here are family style and must be chosen off the large blackboard on the wall, not a printed menu. The guys at the door who greet you can appear intimidating to certain, shall we say, delicate types, but they're okay and so be friendly to them. And the waiters, hardworking men who wear white shirts with neckties and black pants, are old school and helpful. (One of them, Marco, will sing for your table if asked; he once told my brother Joe, who'd expressed concern over his beet-red face and neck following an extended High C, that he has studied singing for years. A proud man, he.)
Oh, and forget about a wine list. Just order the house red or white. They're perfectly serviceable, come in unmarked bottles, and are served at the same temperature — cold.
These are the best baked clams I have ever eaten — small, sweet and very fresh, topped with just the right amount of breadcrumbs, by which I mean not very much at all. They're my favorite way to start a meal at Don Peppe (though my frequent dining companions often insist on the Don Peppe Salad to start and then the clams). Whadda I care, you want the salad, order the salad. It's good, I just prefer getting to the clams first is all.
I know what you're thinking: Clams? Again? All I can say is this: Yes. Clams. Again. In fact, if you order only one thing at Don Peppe, the linguine with white clam sauce is it.
You like garlic, yes? Good. There's a couple heads' worth of beautifully roasted whole cloves on every plate of linguine that comes out of the kitchen. And the pasta is always cooked perfectly al dente. The sauce is generously apportioned and so you'll likely be sopping up whatever is left with bread, which has lately been much better than the bread they used to serve.
I take it you like veal. Of course you do. So get yourself a plate of the Veal Don Peppe and prepare to send me a very lovely thank you note (my email address is [email protected]).
This is a Milanese-style veal dish, made with tender cutlets (waiters cut them with a spoon) that are coated in breadcrumbs and then fried. Piled atop the cutlets is a mixture of diced tomatoes and raw red onions in oil and vinegar. The vinegar and onions aren't at all subtle but they counteract the richness of the veal, which somehow manages to stay crisp until the very end.
Along with the white clam sauce, this is a must-have dish for me. It just doesn't get better.
There's always somebody in the group (nobody I know, but still... ) who insists on eating chicken wherever they go, and here at Don Peppe there's actually a dish that even I crave: the Chicken Scarpariello. It's a whole bunch of chicken pieces, cut up small, simply seasoned the traditional way and baked at high temperature until crispy. But take my advice and order itwith sausage and peppers. It's not on the menu board but, believe me, your waiter won't skip a beat; that's how a lot of regulars order their "chicken scarp." It's the only way I order it.
Oh, and you must get a side of escarole. Yes, you must.
I know what you're thinking. That's a lot of food. So what, you've got friends, don't you? Round them up, it's probably been too long since you all went out for a good meal together anyway.
And if you're stranded at JFK and have to kill a couple hours, odds are you're not the only one, so try reaching out to a like-minded traveler. Many a fine friendship has blossomed over a good meal and a bottle of wine, no?
Here's a listing for Don Peppe. They're open every day but Monday, for lunch right through dinner.
Whenever you go there's a real good chance one of my gang will be sitting close by.
And they'll be eating the same dishes you are.
 
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