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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 

January 2014


Credit: © Con Poulos

Recipe Summary

2 hrs


Crab Sauce


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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Make Ahead

The cooked gnocchi can be frozen for up to one month. Reheat in the sauce, with a little water.

Suggested Pairing

Fragrant, minerally Chardonnay.