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Prune-Stuffed Gnocchi with Foie Gras-Butter Sauce
Recipe adapted from Barbara Lynch, No. 9 Park, Boston, MA
Yield: 6 servings
Cook Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes (plus several hours to cool and chill)
22 pitted prunes, 20 whole prunes and 2 finely chopped
1 cup Vin Santo or Madeira wine, plus more if needed
2 pounds russet potatoes
3 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1½ to 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and shaping
½ pound foie gras
2 tablespoons finely chopped roasted, salted almonds (preferably Marconas)
3 sprigs fresh chervil or flat-leaf parsley, large leaves removed and small clusters plucked from the thick stem
Flaky salt such as fleur de sel for serving
Foie Gras-Butter Sauce
½ pound foie gras at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups Vin Santo or Madeira wine
1 large shallot, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
15 small fresh thyme sprigs
15 whole black peppercorns
15 coriander seeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1. Make the gnocchi filling: In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the whole prunes and 1 cup of the Vin Santo (adding more if needed to cover the prunes completely). Cook until all of the Vin Santo is absorbed, about 30 minutes, then set aside to cool. Once cool, place the prunes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until semismooth, about four 1-second pulses. Scrape into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
2. Make the gnocchi: While the prunes cook, boil the potatoes. Fill a large pot with water and set over high heat. Add the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of the salt and bring to a boil. Cook until a toothpick easily slides into the center of a potato, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and cool slightly. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm--they'll peel easier if warm--use a paring knife to strip off the skin. Roughly chop the potatoes and press through a potato ricer set over a rimmed baking sheet. Lightly spread the riced potatoes over the sheet pan to cool evenly.
3. In a small bowl, add the eggs and whisk in 1 teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and the nutmeg; set aside. Lightly flour a cutting board and place the riced potatoes on top. Sprinkle 1¼ cups of flour over the potatoes and use your fingers to fluff the potato mixture and lightly incorporate the flour into the potatoes. Once the flour is mostly incorporated, gather the potatoes into a mound and create a well in the center. To the well, add the egg mixture and use your fingers to pull the perimeter of the potatoes around the well into the egg mixture. Continue to mix in a wider perimeter of potatoes until the well in the center holds together. Fold in the remaining potato-flour mixture, gently folding and kneading the dough and sprinkling with the remaining ¼ cup to ¾ cup of flour as needed to keep the mixture from getting too sticky. Once the dough forms a ball and feels delicate and just a bit sticky, after about 1 minute of flouring, folding and kneading, divide it in half.
4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Clean the cutting board (a bench knife comes in handy for this) and reflour. Roll one piece of dough into a ¼-inch thick sheet. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to stamp out as many circles as possible from the sheet. Gather the scraps and set aside. Place the cut out circles on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Reflour the cutting board and repeat with the other piece of dough. Press the scraps together with the scraps from the first batch, reroll and cut out as many circles as possible. Discard any remaining dough scraps (you should have 20 to 24 circles total).
5. Add about 1 teaspoon of the cooked prune mixture to the center of each gnocchi circle. Once all of the circles are topped with prunes, fold each circle over to make a half-moon, then press the edges together to seal. Stand the half-moons upright and use your finger to press a ¼-inch deep indentation into the center of the sealed edge that faces up (this helps hold the sauce). Once all of the gnocchi are shaped, place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until the gnocchi are rock-hard, 1 to 2 hours (the gnocchi will keep for up to one month in the freezer; transfer the frozen gnocchi to a resealable freezer bag if freezing for more than 12 hours).
6. Make the foie gras butter: In a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl, add the room temperature foie gras and, using a rubber spatula, force through the sieve; discard the bits left in the sieve. To the sieved foie gras, add the room temperature butter in small pieces, then use a whisk to combine until the foie butter is completely smooth and silky. Scrape the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a 6-inch-long log. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
7. Meanwhile, make the sauce base: In a medium saucepan set over high heat, add the Vin Santo, shallot, thyme sprigs, peppercorns and coriander seeds. Bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid is reduced to a thick glaze, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the foie butter from the refrigerator and slice into 6 even pieces. Reduce the heat to medium-low and whisk in one piece of the foie gras butter. Once the butter melts, add another piece. Continue until all of the foie gras butter is incorporated and then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and into a medium bowl (discard the solids in the sieve). Cover the sauce with plastic wrap to keep warm while you finish the gnocchi (if the sauce separates, simply whisk in a tablespoon or two of warm water right before serving; the sauce can also be rewarmed in a saucepan over low heat).
8. Place the remaining ½ pound of foie gras on the cutting board and slice into 1-inch thick pieces. Use the tip of a paring knife to remove any obvious, large veins. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. In a medium nonstick skillet set over medium heat, add the foie gras slices and cook until browned, about 1 minute. Use a spatula to turn the foie gras over and cook on the other side until browned, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate and cut the slices into ½- to ¾-inch squares; set aside.
9. Fill a large pot with water, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the frozen gnocchi to the water 5 to 6 pieces at a time, cooking until they rise to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or frying spider to transfer the cooked gnocchi to a platter. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi until it is all cooked. Divide the gnocchi evenly between six plates or shallow bowls, placing them indented-side up. Top each serving with some of the warm foie gras sauce (re-warm over medium-low heat if necessary), a few pieces of the seared foie gras, some chopped almonds, reserved chopped prunes and chervil. Finish with a pinch of fleur de sel and serve.