There are many times when my vision for a dish’s flavor does not turn out the way I want it to. And since I’m a Virgo it generally will take only the slightest cooking imperfection for me to feel a dish has failed. This smoked ramps Parisienne gnocchi is exactly one of those ideas where my expectation bar gets set pretty high. It’s a great concept but would I be able to get the flavors I imagined? YES I DID!
I’m really excited to be sharing this one. Not only did I nail the flavors, but this particular dish hits a lot of what I love about cooking: creativity, a simple set of flavors, and technique. I’ve wanted to make Parisienne gnocchi for a while and every time I see it in Ruhlman’s Ratio under pâte à choux, I think hmm, I really need to make this. Since I had a little bit of a batch of cold smoked ramps in my fridge I felt now would be as good a time as any.
Hey wait a minute, you say. What’s the difference between regular gnocchi and Parisienne gnocchi? A good amount, actually. Instead of potatoes this pasta is made with pâte à choux, a dough which you can flavor with pretty much whatever you like. Ramps, garlic, herbs, cheese (smoked cheese even!), all can go into the dough, making a nice canvas to build flavors around. I also think Parisienne gnocchi is easier to make than potato gnocchi, you don’t have this huge mass of sticky potatoes, and I think they are lighter and more pillowy with just a little bit of chewiness. Seriously good.
Making Parisienne gnocchi is a breeze and should take you no more than 10 minutes to assemble. Once mixed, put the dough into a plastic bag, cut out the corner, squeeze out a small bit and cut ½ inch pieces off into some simmering water. Cook for two minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and set on paper towels for use later. Trust me, you’ll wait longer for the pot of water to boil.
Parisienne gnocchi can accompany just about any kind of sauce you like. Since they’re ‘Parisienne’ I felt a cream sauce was in order. Smoky ramps in the gnocchi, salt from the guanciale, earthy mushrooms, sweetness from the peas, and richness from the cream. Can you see why I’d be disappointed if these flavors didn’t combine the way I wanted them too? There’s nothing really fancy in there but we ended up with a ridiculously decadent weeknight dinner. Simple ingredients and a simple idea executed to near perfection. Each bite just bursting with flavor. To say it was a lick-your-bowl-clean dish is an understatement!
Parisienne Gnocchi (4 servings)
- 6 oz water
- 4 oz butter (1 stick)
- 4 oz flour
- 4 large eggs (8 oz)
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ C minced smoked ramps
Put the water, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat on the stove. Stir in the flour. It will quickly absorb the liquid and form a dough. Continue stirring for about a minute or two in order to cook out some of the water.
Transfer the dough to a standing mixer bowl. With the mixer in medium speed incorporate the eggs one at a time. After mixing in the second egg add the minced ramps. By the fourth egg the dough should start to become sticky and ‘furry.’
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Spoon the dough into a large Ziploc bag and cut out a small piece of the corner.
Bring a large pot of water (preferably a wide one) to boil over medium high heat.
Squeeze your makeshift pastry bag and cut off ½ inch pieces directly into the water. Don’t overcrowd the pot, do this in a couple of phases until the bag is empty.
Cook the pieces for 1-2 minutes after they float to the top of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on a tray lined with paper towels to dry.
Set aside until ready to use. Can be frozen or refrigerated.
Guanciale Mushroom and Pea Cream Sauce
- 3 oz guanciale (or bacon)
- 8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1 C peas
- 1 C cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
Over medium heat in a large pan, cook the guanciale for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook them down until they have released all of their water.
Next add the peas and cook for a minute. Stir in the cream, reduce heat to low and cook until sauce thickens and reduces a bit.
Add the Parisienne gnocchi to the sauce and cook for a few minutes. Toss to coat the gnocchi. Season with salt and pepper and serve.