We were stuck inside on a rainy weekend and I couldn’t make it to the grocery store on Friday. So I checked the pantry and we had some russet potatoes. Checked the freezer and we had some pancetta. Plus it was Friday night and we need an excuse to drink nice wine….So begins the gnocchi experiment!
So I googled a recipe from the pasta master–Mario Batali. His food and restaurants can be really complicated, but I’m pretty sure he got famous from making his grandma’s old recipes. Surely she didn’t sit and fret over mixing techniques and measurements. Here’s the starting point recipe for our gnocchi adventure. I also cross referenced the recipe with one in the ‘Silver Spoon’ which is supposed to be the encyclopedia for Italian cooking. I mainly took Batali’s proportions because getting 1 3/4 C of potato seems ludicrous.
I should mention that the only time I ever tried gnocchi in the past it was a total disaster. I made it from straight semolina which was like cornmeal. Cornmeal texture and gnocchi should not even be mentioned in the same sentence.
2 small russet potatoes (I used 3 but will cut back next time. See notes below)
2 C all purpose flour
Boil a large pot of water.
I boiled the potatoes whole for 30-40 minutes and then let them sit on the counter for about an hour to “cool.” Refill your pot with salted water for the gnocchi.
Rice or food mill the potatoes onto a giant work surface or cutting board where you’re going to roll out your pasta. Make a well in the middle. Sprinkle all of the flour over the potatoes. Crack the egg in the middle and prepare to get your workout.
Mix the egg into the potato/flour mixture with a fork in a circular motion, incorporating more and more of the potato and flour as you mix. Once you get almost all of it mixed in, knead the rest in by hand and continue to knead for another 4-5 minutes. [This is where it was beneficial that I had ever seen the Molto Mario episode so I had a clue how to mix it all in]
Divide dough up into baseball-sized balls. Then the fun! Rolling it all into long snakes and then cutting them into 1″ pieces. I would actually make the snakes about 1/2″ and then cut them into 1″ gnocchi. I had my toddler help:
All of the fork-flicking and ridges you’re supposed to to for gnocchi didn’t really work. That may have been because they had too much potato in the recipe. I noticed that the over-worked pieces of dough that my son had played with actually turned out more al dente than the fluffy-soft first batch.
These only take about a minute to cook and you’ll know when they’re done because they float. So, have your sauce ready to go. Simpler is better because gnocchi are pretty rich and only need a light tomato, EVO, basil-type sauce. My pancetta-tomato-spinach sauce was way too much for these little guys.
I put all the cut gnocchi on parchment on a cookie sheet so they would transfer to the pot easier.