When I was in high school I had the privilege of going to Italy for two weeks. It was an incredible trip all around, but unfortunately for me came just before the phase of my life where I started to embrace different types of food. I still have weird habits when it comes to some foods but my palette used to be, as Homer Simpson might say, the size of a Brazil nut. I certainly think it would be a different experience if I went back now.
One of the foods I tried for the first time on this trip was gnocchi. The light, potato-ey, dumplings that are delicious when paired with just about anything. I can recall at least three separate times I had it on our trip. A few years ago I excitedly bought some frozen ones at Meijer but was sorely disappointed. The only solution, of course, was to make my own.
I attempted last August to make gnocchi, but lacking potatoes at the time I found a recipe for ricotta gnocchi… they were pretty much an all around failure in my book.
So a month ago, after having gnocchi out at dinner, I was inspired to make them the right way. I subbed in my grater for a potato ricer, and several slightly burnt fingers later I had a very satisfying end product.
Potatoes have a large amount of water in them and one of the key things about this recipe is trying to get rid of as much of it as possible. Otherwise, you are left with a much more dense final product. So to start, place your potatoes in a 400° oven (make sure to poke holes in them with a fork) and bake for about 45 minutes. Let the potatoes cool for about 5 minutes.
Peel the potatoes and grate them over the larger holes in your grater. You want to do this while the potatoes are relatively hot so that more water can evaporate (you’ll see all the steam rising from your pile of grated potatoes). If you have a food mill or potato ricer you would use those. While it would be much quicker/easier if you had a potato ricer, not many people have those (I didn’t even know such a thing existed before finding this recipe). Your grater will do just fine, but make sure to hold the potato with a paper towel or something to guard your hand, they will still be quite hot!
In a bowl mix together the potatoes, beaten egg, and salt. Gradually add in the flour. The dough is ready when it doesn’t stick to your hands. Knead the dough (just like you would bread dough) for 3 minutes.
Form your kneaded dough into a ball and cut into 4 even pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll out each ball into a rope about 3/4 inch thick. Cut the rope into 1 inch pieces.
Gnocchi normally has ridges to better catch whatever sauce/spices it is cooked with. To do this press each piece against the back of a fork. Gently roll it down/off the fork, so that you get ridges all the way around. This took me a while to do, and you’ll notice in my pictures that most have weak ridges, which is fine with me.
You can freeze this or cook them fresh. If you choose to freeze them, place them on a baking sheet in the freezer for a few hours, then go ahead and place them all in a container. If you skip the first step you will end up with a giant frozen ball of gnocchi.
To cook, place in a pot of salted boiling water, and cook until they all float to the top. For fresh ones this takes about 1.5-2 minutes, and closer to 3 for the frozen ones. Mix with your favorite sauce and enjoy!
- 2 pounds Russet potatoes
- 1½ C AP flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- Bake potatoes in a 400° oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until done. Let the potatoes cool for 5 minutes, then peel. Using a potato ricer or grater, grate the potatoes into a bowl.
- Mix together the potatoes with the egg and salt. Gradually incorporate the flour until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. Turn out onto a work surface and knead for 3 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 4 pieces, rolling each piece out into a ¾ inch rope. Cut each rope into 1 inch pieces. To create ridges on the gnocchi place each one on the back of a fork and roll it down the fork while applying pressure.
- Cook fresh for 1.5 - 2 minutes in salted, boiling water, until all the gnocchi float to the top. Alternatively, freeze before cooking, and cook for about 3 minutes when desired.