Thursday, August 23, 2012

gnudi with chicken ragu

I miss having a Josh Galliano restaurant to go to. So, while this top St. Louis Chef is between places, I try to go to some of the many events he cooks at to get my fix. Last week he did a pop-up fried chicken restaurant... so fun! This week he was teaching a class at Schnucks Cooks Cooking school. The class was on Italian summer foods. "I hope he makes something I can turn into balls for this week's post" I thought to myself. Even better? He actually made balls! Well, gnudi, which are semi-ball shaped Italian dumplings. I have actually attempted to make gnudi once before, and it didn't turn out to well... gnudi are very delicate and mine fell apart when cooking. These did not. They were fluffy and soft and creamy. Success! Leave it to Josh!

The ragu gave me an excuse to break out my medieval meat grinder. It makes such a mess and takes forever. But it's fun to play butcher sometimes. Bloody, visceral fun. This is a "white" ragu for lack of a better term. The flavors are rich, though, and this would be right at home in cold weather. The liver adds just enough funk to give it an intriguing quality that I love. The fennel does lighten the heavy flavors a bit, but overall this hearty mixture is only needed in small servings. 


1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/ cup all purpose flour, plus a bunch more for dusting
1 egg
1 egg yolk
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
salt & pepper

Combine all the ingredients until incorporated. Let rest 10-30 minutes. This is a very very sticky soft dough. Scoop into tablespoon-sized lumps and drop onto a parchment-lined,  well-floured sheet pan. Sprinkle more flour over the lumps. Let rest about 10 more minutes, then, using more flour as needed, roll into balls. Boil a big pot of water and drop the gnudi into it gently, one at a time, making sure they are not touching each other. When they float, they are done. Remove floaters immediately with a slotted spoon or spider. Continue until all gnudi are cooked. Serve on top of ragu (if you put the ragu on top of the gnudi, they will likely disintegrate as you eat...delicate little balls, they are).

Chicken Ragu

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
4 oz. chicken livers, cut into chunks
2 oz. pancetta, cut into small cubes (I doubled to 4 oz., because that's how much was in the package)
1 red onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1/4 pound interesting mushrooms (I used shitake) cleaned and cut
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock or water
your favorite hard cheese, for grating

Use a grinder to grind together the chicken thighs, livers and pancetta. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Cover the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add onion, fennel and half of the garlic and cook until tender. Stir in the meats and cook for another 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Deglaze the pot with the white wine and stir constantly until all of the browned bits from the bottom are dislodged. Stir in the stock and turn heat to very low. add the sage and thyme and let cook for 35-45 minutes, adding the rest of the garlic after 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms in olive oil in a separate pan over high heat. Stir into the ragu. Serve with gnudi, gnocchi or cavatelli pasta and grated cheese.

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