I’m quite proud that my new daughter-in-law prefers my potato gnocchi to anything she has found in the best Italian restaurants. My gnocchi is, by my own account, excellent, but last night it got even better! I have been thinking of potato gnocchi (small dumplings, in the Italian style) with Gorgonzola sauce for several weeks, just waiting for the time to enjoy the process. My hallmark of truly great gnocchi is a light, tender, melt-in-your-mouth pillow. It must not be chewy or rubbery, that’s just not acceptable.
Ah, back to the recipe. I wanted to make gnocchi that was lighter and more delicate than usual. the ingredients are few: potatoes, flour, egg, butter, salt. I learned many years ago that baking russets was THE way to go, as the potatoes are drier, requiring less flour to form the dough than with boiled potatoes. The next step is to rice them — don’t want any extra gluten formed, because that’s what makes your dumplings chewy, rubbery and gummy. Here’s the scoop on potato ricers. Over-mixing is also a culprit in chewy gnocchi. I added the eggs and butter at this point to help prevent gluten formation. Then, taking great care to mix ever so gently, I reduced the amount of flour normally used in the dough by less than half.
This combination of less moisture and less flour gave me more potato flavor. Less mixing produced a lighter dough. End result — immense potato flavor and a texture that was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth tender. It was delightful! Aha!
Whenever I make a “labor of love” I like to make extra and freeze them for use at a later time. Gnocchi are perfect to make-ahead and freeze as they pair well with a variety of sauces absolutely flexible to match your preferences for any specific evening, whether it be a simple fresh tomato sauce or a more complex sauce of gorgonzola accented with a tomato-basil salsa.
Here are the gnocchi recipe and two sauces. Buon apetito!
This combination of less moisture and less flour gave me more potato flavor. Less mixing produced a lighter dough. End result — immense potato flavor and a texture that was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth tender.
- 3 lbs Russet Potatoes scrubbed
- 1 tbsp butter or margarine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 cup flour
- 1-2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
Scrub and dry potatoes, prick with fork. Bake at 425°F until potatoes are fork tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool until warm to the touch, about 15 minutes
Halve and scoop potatoes out of shells. Rice the potatoes into a large mixing bowl while still warm; add the butter. On very low speed, add the egg yolk, mix just until combined.
Add ½ cup of the flour; mix just until combined. Check the consistency – the dough should be very soft, but not sticky. If necessary, add more flour to achieve desired consistency. ****
Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough into quarters
With floured hands, shape dough into long ropes, about ¾ inch in diameter. Cut into even pieces, about ½ inch. Crease the center of each ball with the handle of a wooden spoon or roll on gnocchi paddle or fork to create grooves.
Cook several at a time in gently simmering salted water for 3 to 4 minutes. Gnocchi are done when they float to the top of the water.
Using a spider, remove the gnocchi from the water and drain, serve immediately with desired sauce, pesto, or butter and cheese. Or top with sauce, bake in 350°F oven 15-25 minutes, until heated through. Makes 4 generous servings.
****Can be made ahead through this step. Store separated in airtight container. Freeze well. If frozen, do not defrost before preparing; take directly from freezer to boiling water.
Ingredients: 2 cups plum tomatoes, washed, cored, seeded if desired, and cut into thin wedges or diced, ½ teaspoon salt, 8 fresh basil leaves cut in chiffonande, or 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 tablespoon snipped Italian or flat-leafed parsley, 1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced, pepper, to taste, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving.
Place tomatoes in large bowl, sprinkle with salt, basil, parsley, garlic, and pepper. Stir gently just to mix. Drizzle olive oil over, toss again and set aside to marinate for at least one hour or as many as six. Stir occasionally. Spoon over hot gnocchi or freshly cooked pasta.