Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gnocchi From Scratch


*2 pounds russet potatoes (about 2 large potatoes)
*1 large egg, slightly beaten
*1 c. all-purpose flour
*1 tsp. sea salt, added to your cooking water
*2 tsp. dry parsley flakes, crushed

1. You start by scrubbing and peeling 2 large russet potatoes. Cut them in half lengthwise, and then drop them into a pot of boiling salted water for about 30 minutes, or until tender.

2. Remove the potatoes from the water with a slotted spoon, reserving your cooking water. Immediately begin to deconstruct the potatoes. A potato ricer would be excellent for this (I've been wishing for one for some time. I think it's time to acquire one). You could also use the tines of a fork to scrape along the length of the potato. I used a pastry cutter to mash it into a fluffy crumble. You do not want to over-mash, just make it so there are no noticeable lumps.

3. Spread your potatoes on a clean surface (counter top or large cutting board) to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Pull your potatoes into a mound. Pour your slightly beaten egg over the mound and then use a baker's spatula or pastry scraper to fold the egg into the potatoes, scraping from the bottom and folding over the top several times until your potatoes are yellow from the egg.

4. Crush your parsley over the mound and then fold a couple additional times to combine.

5. Sprinkle 3/4 of your cup of flour over the top of your potato mound and begin to lightly knead the flour into the potatoes. As you are kneading, add more flour if the mixture combines and is tacky. Add a bit of your cooking water if the mixture is crumbly and dry. You want a billowy consistency. Depending on the size of your potatoes and the amount of water retained from cooking, you may need more or less than a full cup of flour, but the dough should feel almost like playdough when you get it right.

6. Cut your dough into 4 or 8 sections, depending on your counter space. Begin rolling the dough sections into  long snakes until they are approximately the diameter of your thumb.

   7. Cut your dough snake into small sections, about the length of your pinky fingertip to the first knuckle.

8. In the palms of your hands, gently roll each section into a small ball. If you come across any large chunks of potato, just discard them and re-roll your little ball of dough.

9. When you have rolled your little balls of dough, pick up one at a time and press it into the curve and tines of a lightly floured fork, forming a small bowl with your thumb. Peel the formed gnocchi carefully off the fork. A perfectly shaped gnocchi will make a C-shape, but they taste the same either way, and the C takes some practice. (We didn't achieve such perfection until about the last 20 gnocchis.) Dip your fork and thumb into a bit of flour frequently as you make the gnocchis.

10. Let your gnocchis settle and dry a few minutes while you get your pot of salted water boiling again.

11. Drop gnocchis 20 or 30 at a time into your boiling water. The gnocchis will cook and then pop to the top, staying afloat, when they are just about done cooking. Leave them on top for about 30 seconds to a minute and then skim them out with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl.

You're done!

Gnocchis are excellent in soup, served in pesto, in spaghetti sauce, etc. They even taste pretty good all by themselves!

This is a pretty big batch of gnocchi, so we are going to freeze the batch that the girls and I make today. When I freeze things like this I typically line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper and then place the items on the sheet in a single layer, mostly not touching. I put them in the freezer until they are entirely frozen and then I transfer them to a labeled freezer container or Ziploc Freezer Bag. These should keep in the freezer for about 6 months.

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