It's gotten cold outside and so it's time to make gnocchi. I hardly ever make this in the summer, but in the winter, this is such great comfort food. Gnocchi is a lot of fun to make - it's like playing with Playdough. I've included a video in this post to show you how easy they are to roll out and cut. You can make them when you don't have anything else around for dinner because the ingredients are all things you have on hand anyway - flour, potatoes and eggs. And now it takes me even less time to make them. Most cooks think you have to run the finished gnocchi over a fork or grater to get those ridges that will catch the sauce. That's how my mom and I used to make it. However, when I have gone to Italy and ordered gnocchi, it is very often made without those ridges. They are just nice fluffy little pillows. I know that Todd English makes them this way, also. And I have come to actually prefer the texture of the gnocchi without the ridges.
There are two pieces of equipment that you really should have to make gnocchi. One is a potato ricer. The consistency of the potato is important and you can really only get it with a ricer. The other piece of equipment is a pastry scraper. It will make it a whole lot easier to use a pastry scraper because it is ideal for cutting the gnocchi and then you have to lift the gnocchi gently after they are made and it also helps afterward with cleanup of the flour on the counter.
The potato for gnocchi should be dry. Lots of recipes, including Marcella Hazan's, call for boiling the potato in the skin to reduce the chance of water getting into the potato. But why boil it? I bake the potatoes so they are nice and dry and perfect for making gnocchi.
for a printable recipe, click here
- 2 medium baking potatoes, about 1.5 pounds total (doesn't have to be exact)
- 2 egg yolks
- almost 2 cups flour (you may not use all the flour)
Bake potatoes in oven until tender. Let cool just until you can skin them, right before you make the gnocchi. The potato needs to be warm, or else the gnocchi will not turn out right - the flour and potato will not bind with the egg.
Scoop out potato flesh and put through ricer into a bowl. Add slightly beaten egg yolks. incorporate about 1.5 cups of the flour and mix until a dough is formed. Place on counter. Using some of the rest of the flour, knead lightly until you have a nice dough formed, one that is not too sticky but yet is not super firm. If you feel you have obtained the right texture for the dough, do not continue to use all the flour.
Cut the dough into three sections with a pastry scraper. Roll out the sections into cords and then, with the pastry scraper, cut the cords into one inch little gnocchi. Set gnocchi on a lightly floured towel until ready to use.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add half the gnocchi and put on a lid. When the water comes back to the boil, remove lid. When the gnocchi float to the top, cook for one minute longer. With a spider, remove gnocchi and place into a serving dish and toss with your sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.
You can serve the gnocchi with any sauce you like - just olive oil and cheese, a marinara sauce or even a meat sauce. If you've never eaten homemade gnocchi, give them a try. It's much easier than you think!