Gnocchi is one of our very, very favorite Italian treats. These little potato dumplings, shaped like pillows with ridges to catch the sauce — they're quite simple to make, and absolutely delicious to eat. Here's a quick tutorial for making gnocchi at home. This recipe will make about 12 cups of gnocchi, enough to feed 6 to 8 people.
What You Need
3 pounds all-purpose potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 to 2 cups flour
Potato ricer or food mill (optional)
Surface for kneading
1. Fill the saucepan with water, and stir in 1 tablespoon salt. Add the potatoes. Boil the potatoes, in their skins, until they are nearly falling apart.
2. Drain the potatoes and let them cool just until they can be handled (about 5 to 10 minutes).
3. Use a towel, a paper towel, or a spoon to rub or scrape the skin off the potatoes.
4. Now rice or mash the potatoes as finely as you can into a large bowl. We did not have a ricer or a food mill, and so we simply mashed the potatoes with a masher and a fork. This left some rather large lumps, and we realized afterwards that we could have pressed the potatoes through a colander. (It's OK, though, if your potatoes aren't perfectly fine; you'll end up with a more rustic, lumpy dough, but they'll still be delicious.)
5. Stir the salt and egg into the mashed potatoes.
6. Spread the flour out on a kneading surface and turn the potato mixture out on top. Knead it together with your hands, adding more flour as you go, if necessary.
7. Depending on how much moisture was in your potatoes, you may need to add up to a cup of flour.
8. There is a lot of variability in potatoes, so simply add until the dough feels mostly smooth, and just slightly sticky.
9. Cut the dough into quarters, and then divide each quarter into four pieces. Roll each piece into a long, 1-inch-wide rope.
10. Cut the rope into walnut-sized pillows. You can leave the pieces as is, or you can roll them over the back of a fork to create ridges.
11. To form the ridges on the gnocchi, take a bite-sized pillow of dough, and roll it down and off the tines of a fork. Don't worry if they look lumpy or rustic! These are not meant to look perfectly shaped; they are usually a little uneven (at least, ours always are). Place the finished gnocchi on a baking pan dusted with flour, and sprinkle a little flour over top.
12. To cook the gnocchi, heat a saucepan of salted water to boiling. Add the gnocchi and cook. They will float to the top of the pan as they cook. Cook for about 2 minutes after they float to the top. (About 4 minutes cooking time total, depending on their size.)Additional Notes: • Ricotta gnocchi are a good variation to try. Also try this recipe for goat cheese and chive gnocchi. • The difference between gnocchi di patate, gnocchi alla romana, and gnocchi Parisienne. • To freeze gnocchi, freeze them solid on a sheet pan. Then pour them into a container or a bag. They will keep for at least 2 weeks in the freezer, but we have frozen them for much longer than that. To cook, dump the frozen gnocchi in boiling water and cook them as directed above. It will simply take a few extra minutes.
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(Images: Faith Durand)