The key to the creamy pan sauce that covers chef John Besh's tender potato gnocchi is a rich crab stock, a splash of vermouth and a pinch of crushed red pepper. In a nod to his New Orleans home town, he adds lump crab meat to the sauce, too.
Slideshow: Fantastic Gnocchi
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 large egg yolks
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 quart fish stock
2 fresh blue crabs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup dry vermouth
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
1 tarragon sprig
1 bay leaf
3/4 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
How to Make It
Step 1 Make the gnocchi
In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with 1 inch of water and cook over moderate heat until tender, 15 minutes; drain and pass through a food mill or ricer into a bowl. Add the egg yolks, 1 1/3 cups of flour, salt and nutmeg; gently mix until the dough starts to come together. Gently knead on a floured work surface, dusting with flour if sticky. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.
Step 2 Make the gnocchi
Roll out one piece of dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rope; keep the remaining dough covered with a damp kitchen towel. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces and lightly dust with flour. Roll each piece against the tines of a fork or a gnocchi paddle to make ridges. Transfer the gnocchi to a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Step 3 Make the gnocchi
Working in 2 batches, cook the gnocchi in a large pot of salted boiling water until they rise to the surface, about 2 minutes. Then simmer until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath and let cool. Drain well and let dry on paper towels.
Step 4 Make the crab sauce
In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Add the crabs, cover partially and simmer over high heat until the liquid is reduced to 2 cups, 15 minutes. Strain into a bowl; discard the crabs.
Step 5 Make the crab sauce
In the same saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, fennel, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until tender, 5 minutes. Add the reduced crab stock, cream, vermouth, thyme, tarragon and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until reduced to 2 cups, 15 minutes. Discard the tarragon and bay leaf.
Step 6 Make the crab sauce
In a skillet, heat half of the pan sauce. Add half of the gnocchi and cook over moderate heat until hot, 2 minutes. Add half of the crab and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter; cook until warmed through and the sauce is slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining pan sauce, gnocchi, crab and butter. Garnish with the cheese and serve at once.
The cooked gnocchi can be frozen for up to one month. Reheat in the sauce, with a little water.
Fragrant, minerally Chardonnay.
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