Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beet Gnudi with Portobello, Shallot & Fig Cream Sauce

Right, I know... totally random.

I've been reading a TON of molecular gastronomy blogs lately (shout out to Salty Seattle and Alinea at Home) and I thought that for once, instead of relying on my usual ideas of Italian-means-tomatoes-and-basil and Greek-equals-feta-and-olives, I decided to try to think about flavors.  Now, the reason these traditional cuisines are so delicious is exactly because a long time ago people discovered that basil and tomatoes balance each other terrifically.  So, I have been trying to come up with a way to use up the rest of my beet gnocchi (gnudi actually, because they are ricotta-based instead of potato.... details, details) and be slightly more creative about it and the flavors that come with it. 

Here's about how it went in my wine-addled brain:
"Beets.  Beets are earthy.  What else is earthy?  Mushrooms.  Yes, mushrooms!  I love mushrooms.  Mushrooms make me want a nice glass of pinot noir.  I love wine.  Mmmmm shiraz is also tasty.  Shiraz is peppery.  Pepper! Yes, pepper.  How do I make this a sauce?  Cream.  Can't go wrong with cream.  Beet gnudi with mushrooms in a peppery-cream sauce.  Seems to earthy.   I mean, I love the earth and all... but hmmm... too much of the same.  Maybe something sweet?  I do have to dried figs in the pantry... oh, and by the way, I need to figure out what 'figgy' pudding is..." 
Aren't you sad you now know how I think?  Imagine working with me.  Tangents.  Everywhere.  No wonder my students always look so confused....

Moving on. 

I tossed some sliced portobello mushrooms, garlic and shallots into an oiled saute pan over medium heat to get soft and start browning.  Once I got some nice color on the 'shrooms, I added the chopped figs and about 3-4 tbsps brandy to the pan and turned the heat up a little to bring it to a simmer. 

I started a pot of salted boiling water for my gnudi, they only take like 2 minutes to cook, even from frozen.  Yay for fresh pasta!

Once the brandy evaporated off and everything was smelling fantastic, I added about a 1/4 C cream, some beef stock and a healthy dose of cracked pepper.  While that was amalgamating and getting all happy, I cooked the gnudi.  About 5 minutes later I had the gnudi plated and was pouring delicious earthy-figy-goodness over the top.  A sprinkle of thyme to seal the deal.

Yum.  I thought this turned out great.  Boyfriend liked it too, but thought that next time I should add less figs and/or chop them up a little finer.  I agree (although how often to I make things twice... yeah, the answer to that would be, "extremely rarely").  But just in case, I will heed his advice :)

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