Best. Dinner. Ever. When you challenge yourself to the limits of personal creativity, more often than not the result is an epic failure. I have had my fair share of those: popovers that didn’t “pop”, mousse that was more like sludge, pasta fit to line the rubbish bin, not the inside of a happy mouth. That’s why I was so elated when I tasted the first bite of this bite-sized bliss. Who knew Jerusalem artichokes would make such great gnocchi- certainly not me, though I thought I’d try because I had success with parsnip gnocchi recently, and what the hell, right?
Many of you may be asking yourself what in the god-damn is a Jerusalem artichoke aka sunchoke? It looks to me like a cross between ginger and galangal with a purplish skin if you are familiar with both of those roots, but it tastes like, well, an artichoke. Sort of a really condensed artichoke with the minerally flavor many roots take on that is vaguely reminiscent of licking a D battery (in a good way!).
I had a healthy handful so I baked them along with some purple potatoes and milled them into an even texture. Then I added salt, a banty egg (but any egg would do) and enough flour to form a dough. I rolled pieces of the dough into very thin tubes, maybe ½”. Then I cut the tubes into ¾” lengths as you would gnocchi and placed them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. I find that resting the gnocchetti (little gnocchi since they are so small) for up to an hour helps it to develop a nice solid exterior post-boil, but anything over an hour makes them too hard and dried out.
This dinner in all actuality started three days before I served it, however, as I wanted medium-rare beef short ribs, and the only way to do that is in the sous vide machine. It takes quite a bit of time for the collagen to break down and tenderize the meat at medium rare temperature (134°) so I planned ahead and gave myself 72 hours to tenderize the ribs. I removed them at more like 60 hours and they were actually completely ideal, so in the future I’ll stick with that number. Before I sealed them in the foodsafe bag I seasoned them with salt, pepper and smoked garlic powder (which you can learn to make here). I tossed in a mango that I had sliced, since I wanted a sweet, tangy sauce made from mango and the sweetish effervescent Italian wine, Moscato. Pan-global, I know, but it worked so well together I make no apologies.
When I pulled the ribs from the sous vide bath (pictured above, before deep-frying), I added the juices from the bag to a shallot I had lightly sautéed in a saucepan. I let the juices reduce a little, then added another chopped mango. Finally I added a cup of Moscato and let the sauce reduce until slightly thickened and all the flavors came together. I gave it a few whirrs with the immersion blender et voila. I didn’t even add additional salt and pepper as the bag juices were already seasoned to the perfect level. The smoked garlic powder came out stunningly in the sauce, and lent a subtle savory hint to the sweetness of the mango and Moscato.
The final step in putting together this plate of scintillating savory seduction is to throw the sous vide short ribs in the deep fryer at 375° for 60 seconds. This all came about because a few days ago I was excitedly tweeting (on twitter, for those of you wondering whether I regularly walk around the house acting like a bird-follow me @saltyseattle) about my new deep fryer. One of my wonderful twitter follows/followers who is also sous vide-obsessed (@bamiyahara) suggested I deep fry sous vide short ribs a la Chang of Momofuku fame.
I couldn’t track down a recipe, but it’s not exactly rocket science, so I worked my own magic, and after one minute in the fryer I was very pleased with the nice caramelized crust that had developed on my short ribs. Much more than a minute and I’d have worried too much about undoing all the great pains I took to keep the ribs at medium rare, but any less than a minute and not enough caramelization occurs. I am very thrilled that this was the inaugural use for my deep fryer. It has convinced me unequivocally that there will be many more to come.