I love everything about Marcus Samuelsson! His cooking style is truly versatile and global. It is clear from his recipes and menus that he put heart, research, and culture in to his dishes. Plus he has a wonderful story. It also doesn’t hurt that he is adorable!
Chef Samuelsson first came on to my radar screen when he opened Aquavit in New York City. I spent a semester in college studying in Denmark, so there is a soft spot in my palette for Scandinavian cuisine. Chef Samuelsson does the real deal at Aquavit and brings the tastes of his adopted homeland, Sweden, to a level that New York City diners can appreciate and delight in.
I also enjoy that Chef Samuelsson honors his African roots as well. This was especially evident in his appearances on Top Chef Masters (which he won in Season 2).
I had the honor of meeting Chef Samuelsson a few months ago when he was in DC promoting his new cookbook New American Table. This is a wonderful cookbook filled with vibrant pictures, stories, and recipes. You can see the influence the immigrant experience has had on Chef Samuelsson. But what I picked up on after flipping through the pages is Samuelsson’s love for New York City. It’s like a walk through the neighborhoods of the Big Apple—on one page there is a recipe for pad thai, on the next fish goulash, followed by jerk-spiced catfish. The ethnic influences are endless: Chinese, Italian, Jamaican, Swedish, Russian, Thai, Ethiopian, Cuban, and Creole. The recipes are easy to follow and fun to make.
I have been searching long and hard for a good gnocchi recipe. Gnocchi and pesto happens to be my comfort food….it quickly takes me to my happy place. When I saw Chef Samuelsson’s recipe I decided to give it a shot. This is a great recipe and I was thrilled with the results. They were much lighter than past recipes and had a great texture and flavor. Plus as it turns out gnocchi is a lot of fun to make!
I made a late-Spring/early-Summer preparation of the gnocchi, simply sautéing them with sundried tomatoes, English peas, spinach, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese. Delicious!
Marcus Samuelsson’s Gnocchi
1 cup sea salt
2 Idaho potatoes (1/2 pound)
2 garlic cloves unpeeled, plus 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove thinly sliced
3 teaspoons chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Spread the sea salt on a baking sheet. Arrange the potatoes and the unpeeled garlic on the salt and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan and continue to roast the potatoes until very tender, about another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
3. Peel the potatoes and garlic and put them through a ricer into a medium bowl. Add the egg yolks, salt, and nutmeg to taste and mix well. Add the flour and knead until a dough forms. Try not to overwork the dough. (The more the dough is worked, the more flour you will need, resulting in heavier gnocchi.) Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.
4. On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough in half and roll each half into ½-inch thick rope. Cut each rope into ½-inch-long pieces and press the tines of a fork into each piece to make grooves in the surface. Place the gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet lightly sprinkled with flour. (At this point, you can divide the gnocchi into servings by arranging on pieces of plastic wrap dusted with flour. Wrap each serving in plastic wrap or place in zip-locked plastic bag and freeze).
5. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with water and ice cubes. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot, drop the gnocchi (fresh or frozen) into the water and summer until they float to the top, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and lace in the ice bath for 30 seconds.
6. To reheat the gnocchi, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the gnocchi and the sliced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with chives and serve.