Thursday, August 9, 2012

I did it all for the Gnocchi

Ha.. get it? Any children of the 90s out there? Hello? 

Gnocchi. Probably one of my all-time favorite Italian foods. I am happy with the packaged ones from Trader Joe's but I am even more happy with fresh, homemade gnocchi. I have made them before with minor success. They were eatable but really sticky and difficult to work with. I came across a different recipe, tried it a few times, and am convinced these are the best. They are pretty easy - but definitely a time commitment. But, my friends, SO worth it! 

This could be your dinner!

 To make a full-batch you start with just 2 basic Russet potatoes. I like to bake mine versus microwaving them. I think it gives a better texture and flavor. Not sure why but I think it does.

 Peel and cut the potatoes up into quarters and push them through a ricer. If you don't have a ricer.. go get one. Ikea has them for like $9. But if you really don't want to make that type of commitment, you can use a cheese grater or potato masher as well - it's just a bit harder to get all the clumps out with a masher and you really don't want too many lumps in your gnocchi. I've done it both ways... go with the ricer!

In a separate bowl, mix together the egg & salt. 

I am making just plain gnocchi here but if you wanted to add a bit of flare, at this point you could also toss in some dried herbs, pepper, a bit of Parmesan cheese. But today we stay purist.

Mix everything together well.

Add in your flour and mix until it comes together enough to dump it out on a hard surface to knead. Flour a hard surface (counter, cutting board, etc) and turn out your dough. You will want to knead your dough, adding flour as necessary as you go, until it is not sticky - aka does not stick to your surface or your hands. Add flour in small amounts until it reaches this point. Remember, it is always easier to add flour than try to take it out. (I'm pretty sure it's impossible to take it out.)

Once your dough is ready, place it back in your bowl & keep any un-used portion covered by a damp paper towel. This will help it from drying out. 

Portion your dough into roughly baseball-sized pieces. Using one at a time, roll each dough ball into a long snake (or "rope" for our reptile-phobic friend) that is roughly 3/4" thick.

 Once your snake/rope is rolled out evenly, take a knife and cut into 3/4" pieces. 

 To make the gnocchi the proper shape, take each piece and mold to the back-side of a fork. You don't want to mash it through the tines but you do want it to get slight grooves (they are important!). Try to keep the width of the dough equal to the width of the fork. This will help your gnocchi stay a consistent size.

 Roll your gnocchi off from the bottom to top of fork to create a little taco-shaped dumpling. You should be able to see the little grooves left by the fork. 

Place your gnocchi with seams down onto a parchment-covered cookie sheet. It doesn't hurt to add a bit of flour to the paper either. But don't go overboard - then you get a bit floury, gluey mess. Eww!

I like to let my gnocchi sit for a bit and dry out just a touch - maybe 30-60 minutes tops. It is best if you eat these pretty much right away... but if you don't plan on it, place them in an air-tight container for no more than 12 hours. Stack them with parchment between layers. Don't leave these in your fridge for too long. I did once and they turned into this really goopy mess that turned sort of brown. Just eat them!

So, when you're finally ready to eat these little lovelies, place them in boiling, heavily-salted water. They really only need to cook for about 3-5 minutes. You'll know they're ready when they start to float. Spoon them into a bowl and serve immediately with your favorite sauce. 

And this is what you get for dinner. 
So good.

Cheers to the Cook!

Gnocchi - serves 4
(recipe adapted from Prep Kitchen Essentials)
2 Large Russet Potatoes, 
2 Eggs, beaten
2 tsp Salt
2 cups Flour + more for kneading

1. Bake potatoes in a 350-degree oven until a knife can be inserted with little resistance through the middle of the potatoes, about an hour.
2. Peel potatoes and run through a ricer into a medium mixing bowl.
3. In a small bowl, mix eggs & salt. Add mixture to potatoes & stir with rubber spatula until well incorporated.
4. Sprinkle the flour into the potatoes and fold in using the rubber spatula, forming a dough
5. Dust a work surface and dump potato mixture out. Knead potato mixture adding flour as necessary just until it not sticky to the touch.
6. Split the dough into about 6 baseball-sized portions. Leave unused portions in a bowl covered by a damp paper towel to keep from drying out. 
7. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough into a long rope about 3/4" thick. Cut gnocchi about 3/4" long.
8. Press the gnocchi into the back of a fork with your thumb, using the tines to leave vertical grooves . Roll gnocchi off fork into U-shape. Set on a parchment-covered sheet, seams down
9. Let gnocchi sit for about 30 minutes. Proceed to cooking or cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. 
10. To cook, bring a large pot of heavily-salted water to boil. Boil the gnocchi until it floats - about 5 minutes. Remove gnocchi with a strainer. Add sauce of your choice and enjoy!

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