Yield: About 1 qt of very rich ragu. You can easily substitute button mushrooms or a cultivated variety for the fresh porcini. The recipe will make enough to sauce pasta or gnocchi for 8 people, scale as needed. This is modified from a very large restaurant batch.
Prep time: 2 hours to trim fish, clean mushrooms, and chop veggies, plus make gnocchi, which can and should be made ahead of time and stashed in your freezer, just in case of random guests and impromptu dinner parties.
Cook time: 1.5 hours, depending on the height and depth of your pot
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Pike, Porcini
1.5lbsnorthern pike scrap or de-boned meat from filetschopped roughly (of course you could easily sub walleye)
1heaping cup each: carrotyellow onion, celery, roughly chopped
1qtfish fumet/stock*See note you could also use vegetable broth, chicken stock or water
1cupdry white wine
3lbsfresh porcinistems and caps diced into cubes, (you could easily sub a cultivated variety, like crimini)
Kosher salt and pepper
Flavorless oil for cookingsuch as grapeseed, canola, or light olive oil,
1head of escarole
4tbspchopped mixed herbsI suggest using a mixture of equal parts of tarragon and parsley
Toss the breadcrumbs with the oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, spread the breadcrumbs on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350, or until golden brown and nicely toasted. Cool the breadcrumbs completely, then toss with the chopped herbs.
Heat the milk gently, then add the dried porcini and allow to reconstitute and infuse for 30 minutes or so, all they have to do is soften. Agitate the porcini by stirring them in the milk vigorously to remove any sediment or debris from them. Next remove the dried mushrooms with a slotted spoon or a spider tool, roughly chop the mushrooms so there aren't large pieces of woody stem or anything floating around. Strain the infused milk through a mesh strainer, then return the reconstituted chopped porcini to it.
Next put the chopped carrot, onion, garlic and celery in the bowl of a food processor, add the water and puree on high for 5 solid minutes, or until the mixture gives up some water, it should look like a vegetable slurry.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a high sided pot or something of similar size, your regular pasta pot would be fine. Add the vegetable slurry as well as the tomato paste and cook for ten minutes on medium heat, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper.
Add the white wine and cook until it is reduced by half
Next add the fresh porcini in milk, fish and the stock/water/whatever you are using
Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook for 1.5 hours on low heat.
After 1.5 hours the mixture should have cooked off plenty of water and look thick enough to coat some pasta. It should not look soupy at all, but be rather thick and meaty.
Heat the 2 cups of the ragu in a saute pan. Add the chopped escarole and cook until it wilts. Next add the 2 tbsp unsalted butter and swirl/stir the pan until it is totally incorporated and the sauce thickens slightly. While you gently heat the sauce, cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water until they float (they can cook directly from frozen).
Add the gnocchi to the pan to coat with the sauce, check the seasoning one last time for salt, then divide between four heated bowls, top with the herbed breadcrumbs and serve.
A 1/2 cup of ragu/person is decent for a multi course dinner and will dress 3/4 cup of cooked gnocchi.