Potato gnocchi in sage & hazelnut butter with chanterelles and sweetcorn
That summer just disappearing over the horizon may not have been one for the beaches but it was near-perfect for vegetables, and now it’s turning out an amazing crop of autumn fruit, certainly in the wild at least. Crab apples, damsons and sloes are dripping from the hedgerows. So it must be time for mushrooms, right?
Well, yes and no is the frustrating answer. Mushroom foragers are an optimistic lot – just one shower of rain or a brief spell of warmth is all they need to set of into the woods full of hope. This time round, however, it doesn’t look like much is going to happen, and our supply of chanterelles that has been so consistent for years is looking like hitting a bump.
We’re getting a few now and then, as the regulars in Cafe P will have spotted. Occasionally enough to feature on a main course, but mostly it is this gnocchi dish that we turn to, full of autumnal, comforting flavours.
One of the reasons for this is that the gnocchi are in the freezer waiting for the chanterelles. We make thousands of gnocchi once a week or so, and freeze them flat on trays, lightly dusted with rice flour. In a couple of hours, the frozen gnocchi can be packed into boxes and then cooked to order straight from the freezer. You can do the same at home. Make a bigger batch than this recipe and an hours work will give you back many easy to throw together meals.
If you can’t wait for the chanterelle fairy to show up, use cultivated oyster, shiitake or chestnut mushrooms will work.
350g potatoes, steamed, mashed and cooled
1 egg yolk
80g grated hard cheese, such as Gabriel or Cratloe Hills
Add the egg yolk, cheese, salt and pepper to the mashed potato. Add some of the flour and work it in gently until you have a firm dough.
Bring a pan of water to the boil. Cut off a small piece of dough, roll it into a ball and drop it into the water. If it holds together and floats to the top after a few minutes, the dough is ready to use.
Roll a piece of the dough into a long roll and cut off small pieces. Roll each one into a ball, then make it slightly oval. Save the gnocchi on a lightly floured tray, or freeze to cook later.
Drop batches of gnocchi into the simmering water and cook them until they float to the top.
While the gnocchi are cooking, melt the butter in a pan with one tablespoon of olive oil, and fry the sage, garlic and hazelnuts for a minute, then stir in the gnocchi as they cook. Keep warm over low heat.
Fry the chanterelles and garlic in a tablespoon of butter over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add the sherry and cook for one minute more. Cut the sweetcorn kernels from the stalk and add them to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Place some chanterelles on each plate and spoon some gnocchi and sauce around each portion.