Monday, February 2, 2009

Johnson & Wales dean wins second place at Idaho Potato Happy Hour Recipe Contest

Editors' note: The recipe in this news item was mentioned in Tool Kit (page 7) of the March 2009 edition of Chef Educator Today.

The judges of Idaho Potato Commission's (IPC) first Idaho Potato Happy Hour Recipe Contest had their work cut out for them, testing and tasting recipes submitted by chefs from upscale restaurants, culinary schools, local watering holes and everywhere in between. The Happy Hour Recipe Contest, which ran from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2008, challenged professional chefs and cooks at restaurants and noncommercial foodservice establishments as well as culinary students and instructors to put pen to paper and share their Idaho potato happy hour recipe secrets. In total, $35,000 was awarded in cash and prizes to the top recipe submissions in three categories: Appetizers, Side Dishes and Late-Night Snacks.

In the Late-Night Snacks category, the IPC awarded second-place honors to Jorge de la Torre, dean of Culinary Education at Johnson & Wales University, Denver Campus, for his Fully Loaded Idaho Potato Gnocchi Fritti (recipe follows).

To view the other winning recipes, visit the Idaho Potato Web site's foodservice page.

Fully Loaded Idaho Potato Gnocchi Fritti
Jorge de la Torre, dean of Culinary Education, Johnson & Wales University

Yield: 12 servings

3 lbs. Idaho russet potatoes
Water, as directed
6 c. ice
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 extra large egg
1 pinch salt
1 lbs. bacon, cooked and finely crumbled
1 bunch chives, minced
1 c. olive oil
2 T. butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bleu Cheese Sauce (recipe follows)

Method (1) Boil whole potatoes until soft, about 45 minutes. While still warm, peel, and pass through vegetable mill onto clean pasta board. (2) Boil 6 quarts of water in large spaghetti pot. Near boiling water, set up ice bath with ice and 6 cups water. (3) Make well in center of potatoes; sprinkle all over with flour. Place egg and salt in center of well; using fork, stir into flour and potatoes. Once egg is mixed in, fold in bacon and chives; bring dough together, kneading gently until ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch. (4) Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels; cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces. Drop pieces off of fork or concave side of cheese grater until dowel is finished. Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float, about 1 minute. Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and dropping off of fork. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath; drain from ice and water. Toss with 1/2 cup olive oil; store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve. (5) Heat remaining olive oil and butter in large sauté pan until butter starts to turn brown. Toss in gnocchi and sauté until gnocchi start to brown. Remove from pan onto plate, season with salt and pepper. (6) Serve gnocchi on toothpicks with Bleu Cheese Sauce in bowl or fondue pot for dipping.

Bleu Cheese Sauce
3 T. butter
3 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/8 t. ground black pepper
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. crumbled bleu cheese (gorgonzola, cabrales, etc.)

Method (1) Melt butter; remove from heat. Stir in flour and seasonings. (2) Gradually add milk, stirring until well mixed. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. (3) Cook for 5 minutes longer; add cheese. (4) Stir until smooth and well blended; set aside.