My parents took their first trip to Europe a couple years ago, spending a week in the Tuscany region of Italy. They both came back inspired by the Italian food they enjoyed and, as a result started to make many of the Italian dishes they had while in Italy. This is one of the dishes we started making as a result of their trip, and we’ve experimented with various ratios of potato to flour. What you want is a minimal amount of flour, too much and the gnocchi will be too dense. The trick, we’ve learned, is to use older potatoes, and to bake them, not boil or steam them, so that they get pretty dried out. Also it helps to put them through a potato ricer for a smoother consistency. Gnocchi goes well with practically any good pasta sauce.
Potato Gnocchi Recipe
- 2 lbs whole baking potatoes
- 2 beaten egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- Pinch of salt
- Your favorite pasta sauce (for example, this basic, delicious tomato sauce)
1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Spear the potatoes with fork tines in several places around each potato to vent moisture as the potatoes cook. Bake the potatoes in their skins until tender, about an hour. Let cool on a rack, cutting them open to help cool and let more moisture escape.
2 Scoop out the potatos from their skins. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer and into a large bowl. (If you don't have a potato rice you can mash the potatoes by hand and fluff them up a bit with a fork.) It is best to work with the potatoes when they are still warm.
3 Add the flour, egg and a pinch of salt. Mix by hand until you have a nice pliable ball of dough. Do not overmix.
4 Prepare a work area and dust it with flour. Take the dough, a piece at a time, and roll it out gently with your hands until you have rolls about 3/4 inch in diameter. It is very important to keep a light touch while you are rolling the dough. Gently roll the dough with your fingertips while while exerting the lightest pressure outwards, not down, to draw the dough out.
5 Cut the tubes of dough into pieces about one inch long. Using either the tines of a fork or your fingertip, press against a piece of the dough and roll it slightly to form an indentation (good for catching the sauce). As the gnocchi are made, place them on flat baking pan, lightly dusted with flour or lined with wax paper. At this point you can freeze the gnocchi ahead of time. Freeze them first on a floured or lined tray, then once frozen you can put them into a freezer bag for more easy storage. To cook, just put the frozen gnocchi into the simmering water for the next step.
6 Bring at least 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in a shallow saucepan. Gently drop the gnocchi, a few at a time, into the water. As soon as they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon, draining well. Arrange on a warm serving dish. Continue cooking the gnocchi in the same manner.
7 As soon as all the gnocchi are ready, pour heated pasta sauce over them and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 6.