Here I go again trying to recreate a food experience.
When we were in Chicago back in March we walked to one of the local restaurants in Bucktown. I just love visiting our son and his family there because they have so many restaurants you can walk to. I guess I better be honest and say I didn’t walk. It was way toooooo cold and we had the little ones. So, Missy, my daughter-in-law, and I drove the boys and the dads walked because we all couldn’t get in the car with two car seats and four adults. By the time we loaded the kids up and lucked out and found a parking spot right in front of the restaurant, here comes the big guys just in time to help carry everyone in.
Club Lucky is a cool retro bar and Italian restaurant and has been part of the neighborhood for more than 50 years. The lounge is always filled with locals and the night we were there (5:30 ish — remember we have kids) the place was filled with families and lots of kids. When we entered, the bar was right in the front and before we were seated I decided to ask the bartender if he could make an aviation cocktail. Of course, he could. This is a cocktail from early 20th century (been around since 1911). The dining room is decorated in red, black and green with simple designs and has such a homey feel.
The waiter brought us a basket of warm bread right out of the oven with some dipping oil and butter. Yum. It was delicious along with my cocktail. I decided on one of the specials which was Gnocchi with Grilled Chicken and Gorgonzola Sauce with some sauteed spinach mixed in for color. It was wonderful and not too blue tasting either.
It was funny watching the kids eat. Oliver had an order of meatballs which he did a good job eating and then licked the butter out of the little individual containers. Now, Charlie, on the other hand, still ate baby food then (only 10 months old) so his mom was giving him bits of the bread and he was making it to his mouth with some of the bread but then we looked at the floor and it was covered with these tiny specks of bread — where were the birds or the DOG when you needed them?
So, I knew I was going to recreate this dish from my first bite and we had made gnocchi at a cooking class in Italy a few years earlier so I knew it would be a piece of cake! Recreating the recipe that is. The gnocchi takes practice.
The Gnocchi recipe came from here. You should read through this link before attempting to make the gnocchi. So, before you say it’s too much trouble, and you don’t want to make the gnocchi, buy it either frozen or in the fresh pasta section of your store. I may try it with frozen gnocchi sometime just for a quick meal but I really liked making the potato pasta.
A lot of pictures here but I wanted you see that I did make my gnocchi and the cute little gnocchi board that is so much fun to use.
(This was a long recipe to write so if you see any mistakes please leave a comment and I will correct. — THANKS)
I used chicken breast that were cut into thin slices.
I sauteed the spinach earlier so I didn’t have too much to do at the last minute.
Sprinkle the breast with a little salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
Brown on both sides until done, remove from pan and set aside or refrigerate until you are ready to put the dish together.
After the potatoes are done you need to either “rice” them or put them through a food meal. I tried just mashing really good with masher but had a few lumps. Add the egg and mix in thoroughly.
Stir in the flour and mix until you have a smooth dough.
Dough and gnocchi board.
Cut the dough into about 8-10 sections and then roll each section into a long rope and cut into 1″ pieces.
Take the piece of dough and push down with your thumb.
As you push down on the dough it will curl up over your thumb. Put these on a wax paper lined tray and refrigerate until ready to cook.
After the flour and butter are cooked for the Gorgonzola Sauce, the cream and blue cheese gets added and Parmesan at the end.
Return the sauteed spinach and the cut up chicken breast to a skillet and warm.
Now, simply mix the sauce with the gnocchi (that’s been boiled already — forgot picture of that), chicken and spinach.
I served this with my Cranberry Kale Salad.
Gnocchi with Grilled Chicken and Gorgonzola Sauce
Gnocchi from http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/how-to-make-gnocchi-like-an-italian-grandmother-recipe.html
Gorgonzola sauce from Ina Garden http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/gorgonzola-sauce-recipe/index.html
2 boneless chicken breast
salt and pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 pkg. spinach, washed and stemmed
2 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper to taste.
Scant 2 pound of starchy potatoes (2 large russets)
1/4 c. egg, lightly beaten
scant 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
fine grain sea salt
2 c. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter
2-3 oz. crumbly Gorgonzola or any type of blue cheese
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1/3 c. white wine, optional
For the chicken; sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and grill or bake until done. Cut into small strips. Set aside or refrigerate if you cooked early in day.
Spinach: Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in skillet and add the spinach and saute just until it starts to wilt, set aside or refrigerate until ready to put together
Fill pot with cold water, add salt and then cut potatoes in half and put in pot.Bring water to boil and cook the potatoes until tender, this takes about 40-50 minutes.
Remove potatoes from water one at a time and peel (I peeled mine first, don’t know if that made a difference) with small paring knife. Peel as soon as possible after taking out of water. You want to be able to mash the potatoes while they are still hot. You can either push potatoes through a rice, food mill, or use a fork and mash. You want an even consistency with no lumps.
Save the potato water. (I don’t remember using any of this.)
Let the potatoes cool spread out across cutting board or on cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes just long enough that the egg won’t cook when it is incorporated into the potatoes. When you are ready, pull the potatoes into a soft mound – drizzle with the beaten egg and sprinkle 3/4 cup of the flour across the top. A metal spatula or pastry scraper work great to incorporate the flour and the eggs into the potatoes. Scrape underneath and fold, scrape and fold until the mixture is a light crumble. Very gently, knead the dough. You can add more flour (a little at a time) if the dough is too tacky. The dough should be moist but not sticky. It should feel almost billowy. Cut it into 8 pieces. Now gently roll each 1/8th into a snake-shaped log, the thickness of your thumb. Using a knife cut pieces every 3/4″. Dust with a bit more flour. (I boiled some water at this point and cooked a few pieces just to see if it was going to hold together — I had to add a little more flour to mine.)
To shape the gnocchi hold a fork in one hand and place a gnocchi pillow against the tines of the fork, cut ends out. With confidence and an assertive (but light) touch, use your thumb and press in and down the length of the fork. The gnocchi should curl into a slight “C” shape, their backs will capture the impression of the tines as tiny ridges (good for catching sauce later). Set each gnocchi aside, dust with a bit more flour if needed, until you are ready to boil them. This step takes some practice, don’t get discouraged, once you get the hang of it it’s easy. (I have a gnocchi board–see pictures–that makes this step so easy and fun too.) (I would definitely encourage you to watch a youtube video on making gnocchi until you get the practice.)
Now that you are on the final stretch, either reheat your potato water or start with a fresh pot (salted), and bring to a boil. Cook the gnocchi in batches by dropping them into the boiling water roughly twenty at a time. They will let you know when they are cooked because they will pop back up to the top. Fish them out of the water a few at a time with a slotted spoon ten seconds or so after they’ve surfaced. Have a large platter ready with a generous swirl of whatever sauce or favorite pesto you’ll be serving on the gnocchi. Place the gnocchi on the platter. Continue cooking in batches until all the gnocchi are done.
Heat the one tablespoon butter until melted. Add in the one tablespoon of flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and whisk until it starts to thicken. Now add in the Gorgonzola, Parmesan, salt, pepper and parsley. Whisk rapidly until the cheese melts and the sauce starts to come together. If this is too thick, you can thin with a little more cream or milk.
To put the dish together: Put your chicken and spinach in a large pan to reheat, stir in the sauce and gently add the cooked gnocchi. Stir until everything is coated.
Top with more Parmesan after you plate it.