Swiss Chard Gnudi over Earthy, Wild Mushrooms
I’m not a huge mushroom fan. I like to wonder who first saw a mushroom and thought that it would be good to eat. Especially the kind that grow on… ahem… manure. But Chris loves them, and so I am trying to learn to love them too. This dish is a really good step on the way. I think they were maybe the best part of the dish. The flavor they impart to the broth is so earthy and dirt-like (in a good way, promise!). It’s very natural and forest-y. And I didn’t quite understand what that meant until I ate this dish. If you don’t like mushrooms, this is probably a flavor you haven’t experienced before. It’s not the kind of flavor you get from cream of mushroom soup, or slimy mushrooms on a pizza. (Both of which I still would not like to eat.) But this is good, really good. The recipe is from Bon Appetit (whose recipes have yet to let me down), October 2009 issue.
The recipe is involved, and might be best left to a weekend meal. You prepare half of it a day ahead, so plan accordingly. There are three main parts, each prepared separately, then assembled at the end: the broth, the gnudi, and the mushrooms.
Swiss Chard Gnudi over Earthy, Wild Mushrooms (serves 4-6, slightly adapted from Bon Appetit)
1 bunch Swiss Chard, stems sliced into match sticks, leaves chopped finely
1 cup Ricotta Cheese (I used part-skim, it was fine)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 large very finely chopped shallot
1 large egg
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 cup Flour plus more for shaping dumplings
6 cups Chicken Broth
2 Shallots, sliced
1 lb Mushrooms (I used white button and portabella), stems trimmed and reserved, caps thinly sliced
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp EVOO
Do 1 day ahead: For the Gnudi, blanch the chopped leaves of Swiss Chard for 3-4 minutes in boiling water, drain, and squeeze very dry. Combine with ricotta, parmesan, shallot, egg, S&P, nutmeg, and flour. Stir to combine until evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Do 1 day ahead: For the broth, boil the broth with the shallots and mushroom stems, until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups (about 45 minutes). Drain the liquid and discard the stems and shallots, reserving the flavored broth. Refrigerate overnight.
Do 1 hour ahead: Scoop the dnudi dough, 1 tsp at a time onto a plate with flour:
Using floured hands, coat the dumplings and shape into ovals, mounds, or peanut shapes. Whatever you like! You should end up with about three dozen. Place on a floured cookie sheet (or parchment paper) and refrigerate an hour before cooking.
When ready: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet, and add the olive oil. Set the broth to heat up. Boil a large pot of salted water. To the skillet add the chopped swiss chard stems, and the sliced mushroom caps. Saute 7-8 minutes, then divide onto serving plates. To the boiling water, add the gnudi. As soon as they float they are done; remove them with a slotted spoon to the serving plates. When all gnudis are cooked, pour the hot broth over each dish and serve with extra parmesan cheese!
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