Despite growing up with an Italian grandmother who was always in the kitchen, she had never made gnocchi for us. It wasn’t until my 20′s that I fell in love with those little soft pillows of potatoes dumplings. They are great to use in soups, or served with a marinara or pesto sauce.
Gnocchi is essentially made from 4 basic ingredients – potatoes, flour, eggs and little bit of salt. You may come across recipes that don’t include eggs, but I don’t recommend it unless you are an experienced gnocchi maker. The egg really helps to bind all the ingredients together and help the gnocchi keep its shape.
Making gnocchi is kind of like making yeast breads – it takes practice to get the technique down, and many things can go wrong. A good gnocchi should be light and delicate, while bad gnocchi can be rubbery and dense. It may take a few tries to get good results, but it will be well worth your efforts. Homemade gnocchi beats store bought by a landslide.
Despite the warning that I gave above, I found the gnocchi to be surprisingly easy and quick to make. Once the potatoes were baked, it only took me about 20 minutes to make a whole pound of gnocchi. It freezes well, so I suggest making a double batch so you can keep some in your freezer at all times.
Yields: About 1 pound
About 2 pounds of Russett or Yukon gold potatoes
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 to 1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Bake your potatoes for at least an hour, or until they can easily be pierced with a knife.
Remove the potatoes from the oven, and using a knife carefully split them in half. Allow them to cool slightly, then gently remove the skin, and scrape out any remaining potato. If you have a potato mill or a meat grinder, run the potatoes through so you end up with smooth mashed potatoes. Alternatively, you can use a fork to fluff you potatoes until there are no lumps.
Let your potatoes cool enough to work with, and then pile them in a mound on a cutting board or in a large bowl. Drizzle the egg over the top of the potatoes, and add in 3/4 cup of the flour and the salt. Using your fingers or a bench scraper, combine the ingredients to form a soft dough. If the dough is too sticky, continue to add in more flour, a little at a time. Continue to knead the dough until your dough becomes smooth. The dough should be moist, but not sticky.
Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Taking one piece at a dough, roll it into a long roll. Use a knife to cut the roll into 1/2 inch pieces. Dust with a little bit of flour.
The shape the gnocchi, place a piece of gnocchi against the backside of a fork. Use your thumb to gently press down on the gnocchi, and it should curl into a slight “C” shape. Set each gnocchi aside until you are ready to boil them. Shaping gnocchi takes a little practice, but after a few tries you’ll get the hang out it. (If you really get into gnocchi making, you can get yourself a gnocchi board for about 5 bucks!)
To cook your gnocchi, bring water to a boil. Drop you gnocchi in, and cook until the gnocchi floats. Drain, and serve with your favorite sauce.
*Freezer Friendly Tip* – Flash freeze the gnocchi on a baking sheet, then place in a ziplock bag. Cook straight from the freezer as directed above.