Cooking instructions, particularly those provided by the manufacturer, fall into that category of “your mileage may vary.”
You know how Nissan says you can get 420,000 miles per gallon in the Leaf? No one every gets what the car maker says. I have a co-worker who burns through 30,000-mile tires every 10,000 miles on his Hyundai Santa Fe. I also have a very good friend who put 15,000 miles on a Dodge Neon without ever changing the air filter or the oil. Thus, your mileage may vary.
Pasta cooks in much the same way.
The geniuses at Barilla have done a pretty good job of pinpointing how long it takes to prep their pasta to al dente. Same with Trader Joe’s. But, not every stove cooks the same. For instance, my GE Profile range has two large burners up front. One goes to 10. The other, in the spirit of Nigel Tufnel, goes to 11. The power boil function alleges to heat water to the boiling point faster. It’s pretty reliable with dry pasta and does pretty well with fresh pasta.
Tonight’s potato gnocchi with porcini mushrooms from Wegmans implored me not to overcook them (DO NOT OVERCOOK was in bold capital letters), instructing me to boil for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes or until they floated to the top.
I let them go 90 seconds and had mush when I drained them. I made a point to reduce the heat from 11 to 9 or 10 before adding the pasta, but no luck. Most of the gnocchi held its shape, but they were very soft. About 30 percent of the pasta had a mushy polenta-like texture. Disappointing, but in retrospect, I should have skipped boiling the gnocchi and added them directly to the saute pan. Live and learn.
WHAT WORKED: The truffle butter. I don’t eat enough truffles.
WHAT DIDN’T: Cooking the pasta. Skip this step and toss it right into the mushrooms and butter. Let them cook in the pan.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “This is really good. What am I eating?”
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Yes, but maybe with some wild mushrooms or fresh herbs. This would make for a nice summer pasta dish.
Mushroom gnocchi with truffle butter
Adapted from Wegmans.com
- 1 tsp. shallots, minced
- olive oil
- 5 oz. shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 16 oz. fresh gnocchi, homemade or store-bought (I used the Wegmans Italian Classics Potato Gnocchi with Porcini Mushrooms)
- 1.75 oz. truffle butter (2 tbsp. of unsalted butter will get you the same creamy base without the earthy flavor. Use more mushrooms in this case.)
- Grated Pecorino Romano
Add gnocchi to the pan when the mushrooms drop their liquid. Toss to combine, then add the truffle butter. Stir until the butter is melted, and the pasta and mushrooms are well coated.
Remove from heat, add to a serving bowl and toss with grated cheese to taste.