Finally some food: Gnocchi, leek and lardons to bring in autumn

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The sun has gone away, time to bring out the winter veggies.

After much complaining from my father, who has been waiting for months for me to post something food related, I’m finally ready to deliver on the other half of this website’s title: Good Food.

Here in Bordeaux, it’s starting to get a little chilly. After weeks of 25-35°C, the rains have returned, the clouds are back, and it’s looking like I need to pack my shorts away until spring rolls around again. Of course the consoling thing about autumn is the appearance of winter vegetables in the supermarket.

poirot-en-poirots
One can’t cook leeks in France without saying poireau, of course, so here is Poirot, en poireaux

This week, I cooked something I’ve been meaning to make ever since I got to France, leeks. While the humble leek may seem rather trite, mostly useful for plumbing-related puns, in French it’s called un poireau, putting you in mind of Agatha Christie’s well-mustachioed detective.

Leeks, with their soft, oniony flavour lend themselves incredibly well to creamy, buttery sauces. I worked from a base recipe here, Gnocchi with Bacon and Leeks, making a few changes along the way, mostly involving mushrooms, and leaner bacon, (North American bacon cuts will tend to be a bit fatty, and you may want to drain off some fat, Australian/English bacon should be fine however). All said and done, you can have this ready and on the table within 30 minutes of slicing the first vegetable if you’re quick.

A rough list of things you will need:

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You don’t need to take a photo of the ingredients first, but sometimes it helps.
  1. 750g gnocchi or so
  2. 150g diced lean bacon (or 150g lardons if you’re in France like me)
  3. 100g mushrooms
  4. 60g butter (more if you like stuff buttery, less if you don’t)
  5. 3 leeks, cutting off the tops
  6. 200g full cream
  7. half a glass of white wine
  8. Fresh parsley
  9. Whatever else you like in your white pasta sauces, though I’d avoid egg here.

Roughly how I put these things together:

There are a few steps here to worry about, but this is a pretty straightforward cream sauce. I like to cook my bacon bits first, so I let them cook through in a frypan first, before putting them in a bowl, leaving as much fat as possible in the pan. Once you’ve done that, sauté the leeks and mushrooms, adding as much butter as you like. The mushrooms might not be as absorbent as you’d expect, as the leeks will leech juices. I used sliced leeks, cut into circles. I’ve cooked similar things using larger leek stalks, which can also be quite nice.

Add some salt and pepper, and when the leeks and mushrooms are nicely sautéed, add half a glass of white wine. I used a chardonnay, and though the chardy in question tended towards the sweeter end, I thought the final flavour quite nice. Let the wine reduce, before adding the cream and returning the bacon to the pan.

About this time, you should have the (salted, of course) water for the gnocchi boiling. The sauce only needs about 5 minutes to reduce once the cream is added, so time placing the gnocchi in the boiling water with the moment you turn the heat off the sauce. Gnocchi cook in about 1-2 minutes, and you don’t want to overdo them, as you don’t make friends with squishy gnocchi. The sauce will thicken nicely in the few minutes it takes you to cook and drain the gnocchi.

Serve it all up together. Gnocchi on the plate, then sauce on the gnocchi. Mix in some fresh chopped parsley, and add some parmesan cheese. I read that you could have this with blue cheese too, but I tried it with a bit of Bleu d’Auvergne that I had lying about, and wouldn’t recommend it.

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Make sure you use a #instagram filter on your photo so it looks more artsy.

There you have it, finally a post about food. Bon Ap!

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