Well, I’m not going to lie to you. Gnocchi is NOT easy. And it’s NOT fast. But it IS yummy! And it IS rather fun to make. And both of those positives negate the previous two negatives, because, as we all know, two negatives before two positives = all positive…or something like that… It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up an Algebra book.
It was one of those snowy days that happened a couple weeks ago – the kind of day you tend to forget about when it’s sunny and 80 degrees outside a couple weeks later – and I decided to make something time consuming because, well, that’s what I had on hand – lots of time. One of my brothers had asked for gnocchi (Sometimes, when I’m feeling really uninspired, I ask everyone what they want on the dinner menu in the next week. Funny how they pick the meals that take half a day to make – Eggrolls, Gnocchi, Peppercorn and Parmesan Crusted Mahi Mahi with Roasted Asparagus and Rosemary Hibiscus Pilaf…no, I’m kidding about that last one, but you get my gist. :P) and, since work was canceled – and everything else in the schedule – I figured it would be a great day just for gnocchi. Sage volunteered to help, so we went at it.
It’s a simple recipe, really…
Potatoes, eggs, salt and flour. That’s it.
Peel and boil (or you can boil and peel…personally, I’m a peel and boil fan.) 2 lbs of russet potatoes – the more starch the better.
Don’t boil then too much – just soft enough that you can stick a fork into them. See, I learned this the hard way. We made one batch which was perfect, but not enough we decided. So we made another and I left the kitchen a little too long and boiled the potatoes a bit too much and, well, you’ll see later why you shouldn’t do that.
This a ricer. It is AWESOME for gnocchi! If you have one, definitely pull it out of the corner of the bottom cabinet where it’s been collecting dust…because who on earth uses a ricer nowadays, anyway?
Hopefully yours will be in better condition than ours. It worked perfectly the first time – that’s why I know it’s so wonderful for gnocchi. But the poor thing couldn’t make it through the abuse of a second round of potatoes and broke right in half. I’ll spare you the pictures. It was sad.
So! Without a ricer, one can use a fork! Forks are awesome too. And I’ve never had one break on me…well, not the metal type.
Try to keep them fluffy while you mash. And when all the mashing is over with, sprinkle the potatoes with a little bit of sea salt and let cool just enough that the eggs won’t cook when you mix them in. Meanwhile crack two eggs and give them a good beating. (This is a great way to release tension in the kitchen. :P) Pour over the mashed potatoes as you fold them in to keep them from slithering off your work board.
Begin incorporating a cup of flour into the potato mixture. Use the fork just until it’s dry enough to handle with your hands.
The dough will be very light, but should be firm enough to shape easily. You might need to add more flour as you knead. Think “gentle” the whole time…or another word with the same meaning.
Action photos captured by Sage.
Divide the dough into 8 parts.
That was the easy part.
Roll each part into a 1/4 inch rope and cut into 2/3 inch pieces. (I’m totally estimating lengths here, so if you get off a fraction don’t stress about it.)
That part was a bit harder.
This is the hardest part of all, but don’t be daunted. It’s easy to master…if your dough is right. This second batch was too sticky because I boiled the potatoes too long.
Pictures are worth thousands of words… Start like this –
I like this explanation from 101 Cookbooks best –
“To shape the gnocchi hold a fork in one hand 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.”
Make sure you flour the parchment surface that you place the finished gnocchi on.
Like I didn’t.
And they stuck.
Isn’t it cute?
When you are ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook about 20 gnocchi at a time. You will know when they are done because they float to the surface. How cool is that?!
Toss with your serving sauce, or olive oil if you are serving the sauce separately, and cover to keep warm while you cook the remaining pasta.
Gnocchi and Creamy Spinach Sauce paired with Chicken Sausage and a big salad.
These little dumplings are fabulous with caramelized onions, but here’s a Spinach Cream Sauce to try as well. I LOVE the green color!
3-4 hand fulls pre-washed baby spinach
1 cup cream
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
salt and pepper
Place spinach and cream in a blender and blend until smooth.
In a large sauce pan, on low heat, melt butter and whisk in flour. Add the spinach mixture and stir to thicken. Add milk to make desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.
By the way…which way do you think gnocchi is pronounced?
nyawk-kee neeo-kee jee-no-chee