The first time I made gnocchi was in a friend’s kitchen with her grandmother – a boisterous Italian woman who insisted that I, too, call her nonna – and those flour-dusted memories have stuck with me ever since.
Gnocchi is fantastic to make in a large batch on a weekend, and can be refrigerated in its dough form, or frozen after shaping – just be sure to half-freeze them on a sheet pan first, to make sure they don’t stick together. Once cooked, they’re perfect as a side dish or can quite easily be the main attraction themselves.
Though you can dress it in sauce, smother it in cheese, bake it, or even do all of the above… I much prefer creating something far simpler; the result is light, crisp, and lets the simplicity of the ingredients below to shine through.
Yield: 6 Generous Servings
•3 large russet potatoes
•1 ½ cups all purpose flour,
plus additional for dusting
•Black pepper, freshly cracked
•1 stick butter
•Fresh sage leaves
•Optional: Parmesan cheese, grated
1. After piercing the potatoes several times with a fork, place them on a tray and bake in a 425˚F oven for about an hour to 70 minutes, or until they yield to a fork or knife with little resistance. You may wish to wrap the potatoes in foil before baking so the skins do not blister and crisp up.
2. While potatoes are still hot, mash them by hand, or pass through a ricer. Mix in the egg, stirring thoroughly to combine, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
3. Sift the flour in stages, mixing it through until the mashed potatoes form a dough. Take note that this dough is not meant to be handled or kneaded like bread or pastry dough; you definitely want to maintain its light airiness.
4. With floured hands, take the dough in segments and turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough into a log half an inch in diameter. Cut this log into one inch segments.
5. Though shaping the gnocchi against a special wooden board or the tines of a fork is traditional, it is optional.
6. Poach in salted, simmering water for approximately three minutes. The gnocchi will float to the top and be slightly translucent around the edges when done. Drain on a paper towel.
7. Once dried, brown the gnocchi in a pan with melted butter and sage until crisp and golden brown – be careful not to burn the herbs!
8. Grate fresh parmesan cheese atop to finish, if you wish, and serve hot.