Gnocchi

The whole purpose for the pork sauce from last night was to dress my homemade gnocchi.  But tonight, we’ve decided to dress the gnocchi simply with butter and parmigiano

The trick to making good gnocchi is to begin with baked, rather than boiled  potatoes.  They remain dry, which means they require less flour to form a firm dough.  The less flour you add to them, the more potato-y the flavor (but if you don’t add enough, they fall apart).

The potatoes get baked and scooped out, riced, then spread out on a counter, sprinkled with flour and beaten egg.  There is minimal kneeding, then the dough is cut in pieces and formed into little logs.  The logs are then sliced into little pillows and the pillows are each run across the back of a fork to make ridges in them.  The ridges and the corresponding cleft on the underside of the gnocchi allow the sauce to cling to them and permeate them better.

When I worked with Mario, he taught me that the gnocchi can be blanched (pre-cooked)and stored in a container with a good deal of oil for lubrication.  They can then be dropped in boiling water at a later time and sauced at the last minute.  Thus, they can be made earlier in the day and stored in the fridge for a dinner party.

They can also be formed, then frozen, uncooked, on  a sheet pan with semolina or cornmeal to keep them from sticking to the pan and each other.  After they are frozen solid, they can be dropped into plastic bags and stored in the freezer for a couple of months.

They are just as good dressed pesto or a hearty meat sauce.

Gnocchi

serves 6 – 8

4 lbs idaho potatoes, baked until soft and cooled (I like to sprinkle mine with kosher salt before baking)

2 eggs

3 c flour or more as needed

peel potatoes and pass through ricer.  Spread out on countertop.  beat egg and sprinkle the potatoes with egg.

Sprinkle flour over the potatoes a little at a time, while lightly kneeding into a solid mass.  Use only enough flour to make the dough hold together.

Cut dough into small pieces and roll into dowels about 3/4″ in diameter.

Cut dowels into squares.

Run each square along the back  of the tines of a fork while allowing them to partially wrap around your finger as you form a cleft on the inside of the gnocchi.

Boil in salted water until they float.  Either pre-boil them and remove and shock in cold water, drain and store in a container with lots of oil, or serve them right away.

Dress them with butter + cheese or pesto or tomato sauce.

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