Napa Valley Taste In New York

Chef Thomas Keller last week opened the much-anticipated restaurant, Per Se, in the new Time Warner Center in New York City bringing his distinctive hands-on approach from his legendary Napa Valley restaurant, French Laundry, to the Big Apple.

He visits The Early Show on Monday to share one of his favorite recipes: Gnocchi.

Gnocchi are Italian dumplings. They can be made from potatoes, flour or farina. Eggs or cheese can be added to the dough; finely chopped spinach is also a popular addition. Chef Keller makes his gnocchi using flour, butter, herbs, eggs, and Dijon mustard.

The following is his recipe

Herb Gnocchi Recipe
From the upcoming Bouchon Cookbook to be published in November 2004
All Recipes by Chef Thomas Keller

4 quarts water
3/4 lb unsalted butter
Kosher salt to taste
1 1/8 lbs all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2tablespoons chopped chervil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Tarragon
1/2 quart grated parmesan
11 to 12 large eggs

Yields = 3 1/2 - 4 pints

Method:
Place water, butter, salt and pepper in a stainless steel pot and bring to a boil. Add flour and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until choux leaves a thin layer on the bottom. Place mixture in hobart bowl and mix on speed 2. Add the parmesan, then the eggs 2 at a time. When eggs are incorporated add herbs and Dijon mustard, and adjust flavor with salt and pepper.

Set up a heavy-duty mixer with a paddle attachment. Have all the ingredients ready and read the recipe through before you begin cooking.

In a straight-sided medium saucepan, bring the water, butter and 1 teaspoon of salt to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour at once and stir the mixture with a stiff, heatproof or wooden spoon. Continue to stir rapidly. As the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan, the flour will begin to cook. The base of the pot will become completely clean with no dough sticking to it. The dough will be glossy, smooth and still damp.

The moisture must evaporate from the dough to allow the dough to absorb more fat when the eggs are added. Continue to stir for about 5 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the dough from coloring. The bottom and sides of the pan will form a coating, or gelatinization. When enough moisture has evaporated, steam will rise from the mixture and there will be the aroma of the cooked flour.

Immediately, place the dough in the mixer bowl. Add the mustard, herbs and the remaining tablespoon of salt. Mix for a few seconds to incorporate the ingredients and release some of the heat, then add the cheese. With the mixer running on the lowest speed, add 3 eggs, one at a time, allowing each egg to incorporate completely before adding the next one.

Increase the speed to medium and add another 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Turn off the machine to check the mixture. Lift some on a rubber spatula and turn the spatula to let it run off. It should move down the spatula very slowly. If it doesn't move at all or is very dry and just falls off in a clump,add the additional egg to increase the fat content. If it flows off the spatula quickly, you have added too much egg and there really isn't much to do to save it.

Place the mixture in a large pastry bag fitted with a #7, 5/8" tip and let it rest for about 5 minutes at room temperature. If you are uncomfortable using a large pastry bag, fill it with half the mixture at a time.

Bring a blanching pot of salted water to a simmer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Line a second pan with parchment paper.

There is a large quantity of gnocchi to pipe and very often it is hard on the arm. An easy way to pipe the gnocchi is to place a large, inverted pot, canister, or other container that is slightly higher than the pot on the right side of the pot (if you are right handed). Set the filled pastry bag on the container so that the tip extends over the pot and the container serves as resting place for the bag.

Twist the end of the pastry bag, to push the gnocchi batter into the tip. From time to time, as the bag empties, you will need to twist the end again. As you squeeze the back of the bag with your right hand, hold a small knife or palette knife in your left hand and cut the gnocchi at 1" intervals, allowing them to drop into the pot. Pipe about 2 dozen gnocchi at a time.

The gnocchi will sink in the pot. Keep the water temperature hot, but do not boil. Once the gnocchi float to the top, let them poach for another 1 to 2 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on the paper towel. Taste one, it may still seem slightly undercooked in the center, but remember that they will be cooked again.

When the gnocchi have drained, place them in a single layer on the parchment-lined pan. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes or up to a day before using.