Chef’s Kitchen: Cooper’s Hawk Gnocchi Carbonara

By Allison Walker, Entertainment Reporter/Anchor, Central Florida 13 News

ORLANDO — Ask a reporter, producer, editor, photog, master control operator or anyone in the newsroom and we’ll admit – without hesitation: we’re ravenous beasts.

It’s true. If leftovers, donuts, day-old bread or edible press releases are put in the break room, most of us will only see the empty serving plate.

So – selfishly – I couldn’t bring myself to leave my gnocchi carbonara in there after discovering it at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in the Waterford Lakes area of Orlando. Colleagues, I do apologize, but I’m telling you – the pasta pillows (made with ricotta cheese – not potato!) were like a lullaby in my mouth. That’s pretty awesome, and I did have an awesome supper that night.

“It’s very, very light and fluffy,” said Cooper’s Hawk Executive Chef Matthew McMillin, referring to his ricotta preference. “Sometimes the potato ones can be a little chewy.”

Chef also thinks this creamy, hearty dish should be without a common ingredient.

“Typically, a carbonara will have a little bit of egg.,” he said. “Ours – we don’t put eggs.”

But with the roasted chicken, peas, pancetta, garlic, cream and chardonnay, you won’t miss a darn thing when biting into this most comforting of comfort foods. And please – be careful if you bring in the leftovers for lunch. Just sayin.’

Let’s cook!

Cooper’s Hawk Gnocchi Carbonara
Yield:   Serves 2-4

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Butter
2-1/8” thick slices of pancetta, cut into 1/4′” x 1” slices
20 oz. cooked Gnocchi, precooked and cooled
2 each garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Cooper’s Hawk Chardonnay
1 cup fresh chicken stock
2½ cups heavy cream
8 oz. pulled rotisserie chicken
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
½ cup peas
1/3 cup Regianno Parmesan cheese, grated

In a medium-hot pan, add the oil and butter. When butter melts and turns slightly brown, add sliced pancetta. Toss until pancetta starts to brown. Add Gnocchi and toss until gnocchi browns slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and toss until garlic softens, about 1 minute. Do not brown garlic.

Add wine and reduce by half. Then add chicken stock. Once reduced by half, add cream and bring to simmer. Begin to reduce sauce and add gnocchi and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.  Add chicken and toss.  Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Add sage, peas and ½ of the parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate.

Remove to a platter and garnish with freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

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