I know what you're thinking....yeah right, I'm not making gnocchi from scratch!
Not only do they taste great, but the sense of accomplishment is worth the hard work. I promise. And hopefully with this post, I can break it down enough to show you that really anyone can do this if they want to. You just need the right tools and direction....and lessons from someone who has attempted this a few times. That someone is ME.
I'd say that I've read and studied abut 10 recipes for gnocchi. I was really determined to perfect this recipe. I am almost there, and I got the confidence from this book.
What better than "The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles" to teach you how to make the best gnocchi ever? The greatest thing about this cookbook is that it gives you insight to their test kitchens, so you know with potato to use, how much flour is needed before they become too sticky, and whether to salt or oil the cooking water. They have tried every method for making pasta, and know what works and what doesn't. Trial and error.....I love it.
To make the gnocchi, you have to start with your cooked potatoes. The book recommends russet potatoes, so I went with that. Just fork the potatoes and bake them at 400 for an hour. When they come out, peel them right away....the skin will adhere to the potatoes as soon as they cool. While they are warm, hold them on a dish towel in one hand, and use a pairing knife to peel back the skin with the other. Once this is done, cut them into quarters and let them cool for about 15 minutes.
If you have a food mill or a ricer, then you are in great shape for the next step. I have tried to use my masher and honestly, they were not as successful. I got my food mill for Christmas (thanks Vida!), but you can buy a ricer for around $15. I highly recommend it. Pass the potatoes through your ricer or food mill, into a large bowl with enough room to mix.
This should leave you with a large bowl of potatoes that look like little grains of rice.
Next, add 1 1/4 cups of flour to your 2 lbs of riced potatoes, along with a teaspoon if salt. These are all the ingredients you will need! Mix the ingredients together BY HAND until the dough is smooth and can be formed into a ball. To do this, I mixed it for a minute in the bowl and continued to work the dough on the counter. Be careful not to overwork the dough though, about 4-5 minutes should be good.
Next, divide your dough ball into 4 seperate ones. Roll out each section into a 3/4 inch rope. If the dough breaks, add a little more flour. Make sure you have floured your work surface before you start to roll out the dough.
Don't worry if your rope is not perfectly symmetrical. Cut the rope into 3/4 inch pieces. If you want to make them the traditional way, use a gnocchi board or a fork and roll the little gnocchi to get ridges. I definitely recommend this, because these ridges help the gnocchi hold on to sauce better. I didn't have a gnocchi board (YET. It's in the mail this week!), so I just used a fork.....it works totally fine.
Once you have rolled you gnocchis, they should look something like this. I am no professional, so obviously they are not perfect. But the taste is still there!At this step, if you know that you can't eat the whole batch - go ahead and put some on parchment paper and then on a cookie sheet, and put them in your freezer for about an hour. Once frozen, just put them into a freezer bag and they will store up to 2 months. Homemade gnocchi anytime of the week! With the other room temp gnocchi, you just need to bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil and salt the water when boiling. The gnocchi will cook VERY fast, it only takes a couple of minutes. You know they are done when they float to the top. Take them out immediately.....you do not want gummy gnocchi.
I served these two ways. I made a tomato cream sauce by just sauteeing some garlic and a can of crushed tomatoes with some basil and half and half. I also put some gnocchi into a pan with some butter, chopped sage and sauteed mushrooms and then topped it with a small piece of filet. I finished both dishes with freshly grated parmesan. It was delicious. Serve then with some garlic bread and you have one great meal (and a TON of food!). Give it a try.....I'd say Sunday is the best day to start. It takes about 2-3 hrs. ENJOY!
Adapted from the Complete Book of Pasta and Noodle by the Editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine
2 lbs Russet Potatoes
1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp Salt
Bake the potatoes until soft, 400 degrees for 1 hr. Rice potatoes with a ricer or food mill. Combine all ingredients and work onto a floured work surface to form a smooth ball. Separate into 4 smaller balls and roll each into a 3/4 inch thick rope. Cut the rope into 3/4 inch pieces and roll them down a fork or gnocchi board. Boil in 6 quarts of salted water for 2 minutes or until they float to the top.