Gnocchi is the Italian dish similar to a dumpling. The name Gnocchi is pronounced “nyo-key”. It is generally eaten much as pasta would be, and is always served with accompaniments- from finely grated cheese or melted butter to more elaborate sauces. Originally gnocchi were made from semolina or wheat flour mixed into a thick dough with eggs. However, after the introduction of the potato to Europe in the 16th century, they started being made with a mix of potato and flour plus eggs. Gnocchi at authentic Italian restaurants are a real treat, and those who have tried to make this meal at home with frozen gnocchi are usually sadly disappointed. The only downside of making Gnocchi from scratch is that it can be a bit time consuming and hard work. As with many other staple dishes, there are many versions of Gnocchi. Some people prefer their Gnocchi to be dense and chewy and some prefer very light pillows which melt in the mouth, but whichever you prefer, the mixing basics are the same. This recipe goes for an “in between” texture.
The perpetual Potato Gnocchi challenge has always been to add just enough flour so they don’t disintegrate, but not so much that they become heavy. Likewise, the dough must be worked minimally, so it doesn’t become tough, but enough so it adheres. The secret, according to several cookbooks, is to use “old” baking potatoes (Russet or Idaho- which are drier because they contain higher starch levels then moisture levels) and bake or microwave them. This will help keep the potato together when boiling for the recipe.
3 large or 6 small potatoes
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 egg, beaten
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1. Fill a large pan with salted water and bring to a boil.
2. Set up a cookie sheet lined w/parchment paper and dusted with flour.
3. Scrub and dry the potatoes, but do not peel them. Microwave on High, until soft. Allow to cool only enough to be able to handle and peel with a sharp knife.
4. Pass potatoes through a potato ricer into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle salt and flour over the potatoes. Add egg.
5. Using hands, knead quickly, trying not to overwork the dough. The dough should be slightly on the wet side- though not sticky.
6. Generously flour a work surface and pinch off a small handful of dough. Using both hands, roll it into the shape of a snake. Using a sharp knife, cut into bite-size pieces and lay them, separately, on the cookie sheet. Continue until finished.
7. Flatten each piece with the back of the tines of a fork, dusting the fork before every flattening, making sure you don’t go all the way through the dough. These ridges will easily trap sauce, once cooked.
8. Immediately add the Gnocchi, a few at a time. Using a skimmer, retrieve the Gnocchi as they rise to the surface.
9. Spice up the dish by browning some ground Italian sausage and adding it to your favorite sauce. Pour over your Gnocchi. Done!
This recipe is dedicated to Carmen and Gina’s mother, Solinda, who was born in Naples, Italy. Thank you for inspiring us every day.