Cooking Our Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home
The most annoying part about being a food geek is when everyone raves about something that you’ve yet to experience. From the arepa lady in Jackson Heights to the butter poached lobster at Per Se, enough can be enough for Gothamist. Sometimes you need to heed to the peer pressure and bite the bullet. It’s usually worth it.
Hearing foodie types ask Gothamist if we’ve ever had “that cheese-gnocchi-type-thing” at Spotted Pig had become annoying. Gothamist had to brave the trendiness of this hot spot and try it out, at least so we could blow it off without a guilty conscious.
Well, the gnocchi type thing is called gnudi, and it’s beyond fantastic. Most everyone likes the concept of gnocchi, but being especially prone to overkneading and overcooking, gnocchi can be a hard, chewy downer. Gnocchi lovers often mention the word ‘pillowy’ when gushing about it, but pillowy gnocchi is a rare experience.
That explains the popularity of Spotted Pig’s gnudi. Minimize the flour and put the rolling pin or pasta machine away. Replace the potato of gnocchi with a soft pillowy cheese. The result is a delicate “cheese-gnocchi-type-thing” that is indeed pillowy and easy to make at home.
Pair the gnudi with anything you’d like – crispy pancetta or earthy mushrooms on a typical night at home, or on a special occasion(Gothamist made this dish on New Year’s Eve) brown them in tarragon infused butter and toss with chunky pieces of fresh lobster.
walnuts, tarragon, lobster stock
The gnudi can be very delicate to handle after they are briefly poached. It’s important to give yourself at least a half hour or more to let them rest and make them sturdy enough to brown in the butter.
The lobster stock is an added step that takes the dish to another level. If you are buying whole lobsters (recommended), you should use the entire lobster and complete this step.
The recipe will make you enough gnudi for at least six to eight servings. It’s hard to minimize it, as it uses only one egg. Gothamist served leftover gnudi the next day with excellent results. Do the same or freeze them for a future dinner.
Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe serves two people with leftover gnudi. Scale up by buying more lobster. Gothamist recommends a 1 ½ lb-2 lb lobster for two people.
1 ½ lb – 2 lb live lobster
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch tarragon
1 small white onion
1 carrot stalk
1 celery stalk
¾ lb fresh ricotta cheese
¼ lb freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1/3 cup semolina flour
1 tbls all purpose flour
small bag whole, shelled walnuts
Estimated cost of ingredients: $30 at Fairway
Steep the Lobster
To start, fill a large pasta pot with cold water. Add an ample amount of sea or kosher salt to the water and give it a taste - you're looking for the taste of the sea. Add 1/8 cup of distilled white vinegar. When the water gets to a vigorous boil, add the lobster. You are only looking to cook the lobster for two minutes - just enough to be able to get the meat out of the shell in tact for the butter poaching. The interior of the meat should be raw. Take the lobster out of the pot with large tongs and add directly to a cutting board. Keep the water boiling. Let it sit for a minute to cool down slightly, but it's important to remove the meat from the shell while it's still hot or the meat will congeal and be too difficult to remove from the shell.
Take The Meat From The Shell
The Tail: With a clean, folded kitchen towel (to protect you from the heat), hold the tail and twist to remove from the body. Do the same for the claws and when removed from body, add claws back to the boiling water for 5 more minutes. While waiting for the claws to finish steeping, begin to remove the meat from the tail (again, while hot).
For the tail, twist the 'fan' of the tail to the side and remove. With your fingers or a teaspoon, loosen the meat and push meat through the end of the tail shell when the fant used to be. Discard shell. Place the tail on the board backside down and slice in half, lengthwise. Place on a paper towel lined plate and reserve.
The Claws: After 5 minutes in the boiling water, take out claws and place on cutting board. Discard water. Working with claw it still hot, pick up claw with your folded kitchen towel and twist off the knuckle from the claw. Take the claw in your towel draped hand and pull down the pincer all the way. After this, move it to the side to crack and pull it straight off. Ideally, the cartilage from inside the claw should be attached to the pincer you just pulled off. The claw meat should still be intact in the claw shell. Place the claw shell on the cutting board. Holding it with your towel with the whole where the knuckle used to be face up. Take a back of a large knife and whack the claw right near the hole where the knuckle was attached. You want to go through the shell but not damage the meat. The shell should pop off. Shake the claw to remove the meat in tact.
At this point, place the claw meat with the tail on the paper towel plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours until needed. You should serve it a few hours after refrigerating. Be sure to use the knuckle meat as well.
Make The Lobster Stock (Optional)
You can skip this step if needed, but this makes a stock that is great for future use as well.
Chop half of the onion. Chop the carrot and celery into rough pieces. Add a small glug of olive oil to a large pot and place on medium heat. Add the vegetables and a pinch of salt. Sauté lightly for about 3 minutes until soft. Do not brown. Add about 3-4 stalks of whole tarragon, one bay leaf and a tablespoon of whole peppercorns. Add the lobster body and shells and barely cover with water.
Let simmer for 30 minutes. Avoid heavy boiling. Strain stock with fine mesh strainer and reserve.
Make the Walnuts
Add one tablespoon butter to a medium heat pan. When just melted, add one handful of the walnuts to the butter. Add one pinch of salt to taste and let roast one one side for about 2 minutes, or until browned. Flip and do the same for the other side. Shake the pan and mix the walnuts around, cooking for another 30 secs. Dump onto a cutting board and let cool. When cool, chop into small pieces.
Make the Gnudi Mixture
In a small mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, one tablespoon chopped tarragon, egg, Parmigiano, half of the flour and the tbls of all-purpose flour. Using a wooden spoon, mix until the ingredients are well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.
Place the remaining flour in a shallow bowl. Using floured hands, pinch about a tablespoon worth of mixture and form into a little football shape. Dredge each through the flour in the bowl and onto a baking sheet. Continue this until you’ve made as many gnocchi shaped pieces as you can. You can either immediately poach them or cover with foil and refrigerate for up to a few hours.
Poach the Gnudi
Bring either your homemade stock or plain water to a simmer (not boil). Take out the gnudi and drop 5 or so into the pot for about 2 minutes, or until they rise to the top of the liquid. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean flat baking sheet. Do this for all of the gnudi, being gentle and taking care not to break them as they can be delicate. Refrigerate for up to a day, or let rest for about a half hour before finishing the dish.
Finish the Dish
Chop one tablespoon of tarragon. Add two tablespoons of butter to a low heat, non stick pan. Non stick is important here for the gnudi. Add two portions worth of the gnudi to the pan. Add the lobster pieces – you can use them whole or chop them into smaller pieces. After a minute, add two squeezes of lemon juice to the pan and add two small/medium ladles of the lobster stock. Simmer for another minute and carefully shake the pan to mix the ingredients. Add the walnuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve right away.