Monday, November 3, 2008

Potato Gnocchi

I remember the first time I ate gnocchi, I was amazed that anything could possibly be so good! I was even more amazed when I realized I could make them on my own, and it's not even that difficult. If you've never made your own gnocchi, I strongly suggest you try, at least once, just for the fun of it!

You will need:
1 large potato per person
100 g flour for every potato

You want to use yellow potatoes that are nice and starchy. If you can't find good potatoes, it's not really worth it, so wait until you see some nice ones.

Place the potatoes in a large pot of water and bring the water to a boil. Let the potatoes cook for a long time until they're nice and soft (test with a fork).

When the potatoes have softened, drain them and run some cold water over them very briefly, just so that you will be able to handle them. Peel off the skins and mash them up thoroughly.

Dump the still-warm potatoes onto a well-floured board and mix the flour in with them, kneading for a few minutes. Though most recipes call for plain old white flour, I've used both whole wheat and semolina, and I liked both quite a bit. Another note here is that many people also mix in an egg with the flour and potatoes. I generally don't, and I think the gnocchi come out well either way.

After you've kneaded for a bit, roll out portions of the dough into long cylindrical strips, about the width of a finger.

Chop the strips into little squares with a knife. If you have a rounded cheese grater, press the gnocchi against it to get little patterns. You can also use one of those wooden boards with horizontal ridges on it to get striped gnocchi. As I had neither of these tools at my disposal this time, I just rounded out the gnocchi by pushing into their centers with my thumb, but here are some whole wheat gnocchi I made back in Milan when i did have a rounded cheese grater:

After you shape the gnocchi, put them on a well-floured plate or towel. At this point, you can let the gnocchi sit until it's time to eat.

When you're ready to cook the gnocchi, heat some water in a large pot. When the water is boiling, salt it, and then add the gnocchi, making sure not to crowd the pot (add them in groups of say 15-20 at a time, adding one group after you're removed the previous one). As the gnocchi rise to the top, ladle them out with a slotted spoon and place them in your serving dish.

Serve with the sauce of your choice. I like to make my gnocchi with tomato sauce (I also added sage to the sauce this time) and then grate a healthy dose of parmesan on top, as you can see here.

Eat warm and enjoy!

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