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Truffled Polenta Gnocchi with Braised Pork Cheek Ragu

Truffled Polenta Gnocchi with Braised Pork Cheek Ragu

From: Chef Travis Hyde, Z Cucina Ristorante, Columbus, OH. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

1½ cups semolina

1½ cups cornmeal

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups milk

1 Tbsp. truffle oil

to taste, salt and pepper

Pork Cheek Ragu:

1 medium sweet onion, julienne

1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped

2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 lb. pork cheeks

10 cremini mushrooms, quartered

1½ cups chianti wine

6 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

to taste, salt and pepper

to garnish, Parmesan cheese

to garnish, basil chiffonade

For gnocchi: Combine cornmeal and semolina. Bring liquids to a simmer and add truffle oil to bloom flavor; add seasoning. Slowly whisk in dry mix until completely incorporated and mix until it begins to pull away from sides of pan. Pour onto tabletop surface dusted with semolina to prevent sticking. Allow to cool for 10 minutes until you can work with it. (The warmer the polenta, the easier to roll out cylinders to cut gnocchi.) Sprinkle a baseball-size piece of polenta with semolina and roll into a cylinder about ¾" diameter. Cut into ½" pieces and dust with semolina before placing on parchment-covered sheet pan.

For pork cheek ragu: Sweat the onion in 1 Tbsp. oil until tender. Add garlic and bloom. Season, then add cheeks and raise heat to caramelize them a little, along with onions. Add vinegar and allow to reduce by half. Add wine, tomatoes, herbs and mushrooms; reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for 1 hour. Cook until pork cheeks just start to fall apart. Season with salt and pepper and mix in last Tbsp. oil.

To compose dish: Heat extra virgin olive oil to medium high; add gnocchi, making sure to coat in oil so they do not stick to pan. Allow to brown and crisp on sides; toss for 4-5 minutes on heat. Pull off heat and place in bowl. Ladle ragu over gnocchi and sprinkle with shaved Parmesan and basil. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil if desired.