Gnocchi are lovely little puffs of potato wonderful-ness. This was my first attempt at making gnocchi
I served them in a sage Parmesan cheese sauce, alongside brandy flamed duck sausage.
Come see how to make them, they are worth the effort.
First, boil your potatoes in their jackets. The theory is that they absorb less water that way.
Peel them while still hot. You can almost rub the skins off with a paper towel or the blunt edge of a table knife.
Mash the potatoes, or run them through a food mill or potato ricer.
Turn out on the counter to cool and dry out a little.
You'll need to get 1/4 cup of a beaten egg, that will be one large egg and almost a cup of flour.
In the mound of potatoes you want to add the egg (it's there under the flour) and start sprinkling on the flour. I started with 1/4 cup.
Using a bench scraper, or your hands, fold the potaoto over on it's self to mix in the egg and flour.
Add the flour little by little and gently knead the flour into the potato until you have somthing that starts to feel like a pie dough.
I wanted to only add as much flour as I needed to give the dough enough body to roll off the back of a fork so I could have gnocchi with grooves. So, test as you go along, add some flour and test rolling a little piece along the back of a fork. If it doesn't hold it's shape, have gooves and a little cup on one side, it's too soft so knead in a little more flour and test again.
Once the dough is the propper consistency roll into snake like logs, about the thickness of your finger.
Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the logs into pieces, about every 3/4 inch.
Place a piece of gnocchi on the back tines of a fork, and with your finger, starting at the top of the fork, apply light pressure and roll the gnocchi down the length of the fork.
Drop the little lovelies into salted boiling water. When they float to the top they are done.
They are pretty sticky so I quickly drained them and placed on parchment paper while I cooked the rest.
If you want to eat them right away, you need to make some kind of sauce. A quick brown butter sauce would be great.
I decided to make a cream sauce with some sage and parmesan cheese. Pretend you see some cheese in there too.
Basically start making a sauce with 2 tablespoons of butter; or fat of your choice, and 1 tablespoon of flour. Melt the butter in a skillet and whisk in the flour and add a few leaves of sage. Cook a few minutes, watching it closely so the flour doesn't get too dark or burn.
While the flour is cooking take the opportunity to grate some Parmesan cheese.
Add 1 cup of heavy cream and whisk, whisk. Then add Parmesan cheese to taste.
You now have a nice rich, creamy, flavorful sauce in which to bathe your gnocchi.
If you made your gnocchi in advance, just plunge them in boiling water for a few minutes and add to the sauce.
This could be the main meal or a wonderful side dish.
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2 pounds of starchy potatoes (2 large russet; s)
1/4 cup egg, (one egg); lightly beaten
1 scant cup all purpose flour
fine grain sea salt
Fill a large pot with cold water. Salt the water, then cut potatoes in half
and place them in the pot. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes
until tender throughout, this takes roughly 40-50 minutes.
Remove the potatoes from the water one at a time with a slotted spoon.
Place each potato piece on a large cutting board and peel it before moving
on to the next potato. Also, peel each potato as soon as possible after
removing from the water (without burning yourself) - I've found a paring
knife comes in handy here. Be mindful that you want to work relatively
quickly so you can mash the potatoes when they are hot. To do this you can
either push the potatoes through a ricer, or do what I do, deconstruct them
one at a time on the cutting board using the tines of a fork - mash isn't
quite the right term here. I run the fork down the sides of the peeled
potato creating a nice, fluffy potato base to work with (see photo). Don't
over-mash - you are simply after an even consistency with no noticable
Save the potato water.
Let the potatoes cool spread out across the cutting board - ten or fifteen
minutes. Long enough that the egg won't cook when it is incorporated into
the potatoes. When you are ready, pull the potatoes into a soft mound -
drizzle with the beaten egg and sprinkle 3/4 cup of the flour across the
top. I've found that a metal spatula or large pastry scraper are both great
utensils to use to incorporate the flour and eggs into the potatoes with
the egg incorporated throughout - you can see the hint of yellow from the
yolk. Scrape underneath and fold, scrape and fold until the mixture is a
light crumble. Very gently, with a feathery touch knead the dough. This is
also the point you can add more flour (a sprinkle at a time) if the dough
is too tacky. I usually end up using most of the remaining 1/4 cup flour,
but it all depends on the potatoes, the flour, the time of year, the
weather, and whether the gnocchi gods are smiling on you. The dough should
be moist but not sticky. It should feel almost billowy. Cut it into 8
pieces. Now gently roll each 1/8th of dough into a snake-shaped log,
roughly the thickness of your thumb. Use a knife to cut pieces every
3/4-inch (see photo). Dust with a bit more flour.
To shape the gnocchi hold a fork in one hand (see photo) and place a
gnocchi pillow against the tines of the fork, cut ends out. With confidence
and an assertive (but light) touch, use your thumb and press in and down
the length of the fork. The gnocchi should curl into a slight 'C' shape,
their backs will capture the impression of the tines as tiny ridges (good
for catching sauce later). Set each gnocchi aside, dust with a bit more
flour if needed, until you are ready to boil them. This step takes some
practice, don't get discouraged, once you get the hang of it it's easy.
Now that you are on the final stretch, either reheat your potato water or
start with a fresh pot (salted), and bring to a boil. Cook the gnocchi in
batches by dropping them into the boiling water roughly twenty at a time.
They will let you know when they are cooked because they will pop back up
to the top. Fish them out of the water a few at a time with a slotted spoon
ten seconds or so after they've surfaced. Have a large platter ready with
a generous swirl of whatever sauce or favorite pesto you'll be serving on
the gnocchi. Place the gnocchi on the platter. Continue cooking in batches
until all the gnocchi are done. Gently toss with more sauce or pesto (don't
overdo it, it should be a light dressing), and serve immediately,
family-style with a drizzle of good olive oil on top.
Francesca's mom seemed disappointed we didn't have a potato ricer or potato
mill on hand, but said that mashing the potatoes by hand would be fine.
I've done it many times by hand now, and it is fine. For those of you
wanting to do some of the preparation in advance, in one test I cooked and
mashed a batch of potatoes a day ahead of time, put them in a covered bowl
overnight, and incorporated the egg and flour the next day when I was ready
to cook the gnocchi - no problems.
Notes: 101 cookbooks
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And that's that