This divine recipe for gnocchi with crayfish is from Melbourne chef Maurice Esposito, well known for his modern Italian food. When making the gnocchi a light hand is important to produce light, plump little pillows of potato goodness.
- 500 g desiree potatoes, peeled and cut in half
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp salt
- 120 g plain flour
Crayfish and stock
- 1 live crayfish weighing approximately 600 g
- olive oil
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 1 leek, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 500 ml dry white wine
- 250 ml fish stock
- olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- pinch of saffron threads
- 3 ripe roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped to a pulp
- salmon roe
- chervil leaves
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the gnocchi, boil the potatoes until soft. Drain them and pass through a potato ricer or food mill, and then through a very fine sieve. (If you don’t have both pieces of equipment, you can make do with just one or the other, but the lightest gnocchi results from using both.) Leave to cool to room temperature.
Mound the potato on a work surface and add the egg and salt. Add a little flour at a time and lightly mix it in with your hands to form a soft, smooth dough that isn’t too sticky. Roll the dough into thin logs (you might need to lightly dust the dough with flour) and cut into 2 cm pieces. To create the classic gnocchi shape, roll the pieces over a ridged butter paddle.
To cook the gnocchi, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, and have a bowl of iced water ready. Carefully add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook until they rise to the top. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and immerse in cold water. Set aside.
Bring another large saucepan of water to the boil, with another bowl of iced water ready. Put the crayfish in the boiling water for 10 seconds, then lift it out and immediately immerse in the iced water. This blanching helps to separate the meat from the shell.
Once the crayfish has cooled down completely, split it in half lengthwise and remove the flesh. Cut the flesh into 2 cm pieces (the same size as the gnocchi) and set aside.
Heat some olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté the carrot, celery, onion, fennel, leek, garlic and herbs until beginning to soften and colour. Add the head and shells of the crayfish and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, then pour in the fish stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the stock into a clean saucepan and set it over low heat to keep the stock hot.
To serve, heat some olive oil in a frying pan and lightly sauté the garlic and saffron. Add the crayfish and sauté until lightly coloured (about 2 minutes), then add about ⅓ cup of the stock and the chopped tomato. Stir briefly. Drain the gnocchi and gently fold into the sauce to warm through. Spoon onto plates and garnish with salmon roe and torn chervil leaves.