Sunday, April 8, 2012


Gnocchi is one of those things that I have wanted to attempt for a very long time but never ever have... for some unknown reason. I certainly try my hand at a great many other complicated things and, despite many failings, try again... (read: macarons). And I wouldn't even think to put gnocchi in the same category as the oh-so-challenging macaron. Yet... I have not made gnocchi.

Well. I have now! And I've even made it again. It's so easy. Like making a big batch of pizza dough, portioning, and freezing it. Once you freeze these little potato presents, you can have a great dinner at the ready in a few effortless minutes.

Russet potatoes (one medium-large potato seems to yield about one cup of grated potato)
Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese

Two cups of potatoes (two potatoes) + one cup of flour + one egg = gnocchi!

Heat your oven to 425 F. Bake your potatoes until cooked and tender... about 45 minutes for the medium sized ones and 60+ for the large. Remove from oven. Slice in half and open to release some of that steam. So hot!

When you can manage handling the potatoes, either cut them in half and scoop out the flesh, then run the potatoes through a grater or food mill. Or, you can go with my less intensive (lazy) route and cut the potatoes in half and use the skin as your handle while grating the flesh using a box grater. Your call. Pretty much the same result either way... you want cooked and grated potato.

Measure your grated potato to get a sense of quantities and the ratio of potato to flour that you will need. For every two cups of potato, you will need approximately one cup of flour. Two to one.

I made two batches of gnocchi this time. I measured out two cups of potato and added one cup of flour in one bowl. Then I measured out two and half cups of potato (had to use the rest!) and one and one quarter cups of flour in a second. To this second bowl, I also added one lightly beaten egg. Two to one to one. Got it?

I combined both into a sort of potato dough, portioned each into four, covered the portions (eight altogether), and let them rest for a few moments while I cleaned my work surface for the cutting.

For the cutting... I rolled each portion of potato dough into a log about 1/2" to 3/4" thick, then cut 3/4" to 1" pieces. So far so good?

To the rolling... well, my technique is rough. I'm sure I'll get it down pat after repeating the recipe and being less intentional and more care-free about it but I'm not worried. A square-ish potato dumpling tastes the same as the rounded one to me!

You can do all sorts of things here... roll them on your box grater, run the tines of a fork against them, get yourself a fancy gnocchi board.

Repeat until you're done! If you want to freeze them, lay the gnocchi on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cover with plastic wrap. Place the trays in your freezer until they are very firm or fully frozen (I find it easiest to leave them overnight... rather than risk creating one giant gnocchi for all your effort), then transfer the gnocchi to a freezer bag. You can make a big batch and keep them in the freezer for a great meal on the fly. 

To cook the gnocchi, set a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water until it floats or comes to the surface of the water. Give it another minute then strain and transfer to a bowl. Shock them with cool water while you make your sauce or add to an already warmed sauce. For the egg gnocchi, give them an extra couple of minutes after they come to surface to ensure that the egg is cooked. Then you're good to go.

I found the gnocchi with the egg to be a bit more tender but it's not to say that the one with just potato and flour is unappealing. It's just a bit heavier. I think that egg free gnocchi might do well as a dumpling in a soup... both have their place anyway! It might just come down to personal preference. My giant tome of Italian cooking, La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy, with its ~2000 authentic recipes has innumerable gnocchi variations. There are as many variations as there are nonnas in Italy, it seems. So just find a ratio that is enjoyed by you and your family and go with it!

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