Traditional Potato Gnocchi
Gnocchi di patate
In the dark days of winter; the eggs for fresh egg pasta are in short supply . Then it’s time for other types of first courses; like these potato gnocchi; which are simplicity itself and delicious when made with a flavoursome potato variety like Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn.
Some cooks like to roll the gnocchi over large holes of a cheese grater or the tines of a fork to give them a pattern; one of those niceties that’s fun to do it you have time; but not really necessary.
- 2 lbs yellow-fleshed potatoes; such as Yukon Gold
- Salt to taste
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- Prepared separately: tomato or other sauce and grated cheese to dress the gnocchi
Rack and pot to steam potatoes (ideally); food mill or coarse sieve to process potatoes.
SCRUB the potatoes and place them; unpeeled; on a vegetable rack set over – but not in – a large pot of boiling water. Steam until tender all the way through but not falling apart (a kitchen knife passes all the way through with some resistance). You can also boil them to the same tenderness.
IT’S important that the potatoes not be overcooked. (Overdone; they will absorb too much water and take up so much flour that the gnocchi will sink like heavy little stones to the bottom of the stomach.)
AS soon as the potatoes are tender enough to push through a vegetable mill; remove them from the rack and when they can be handled; but while they’re still hot; peel them and pass them through the vegetable mill into a large bowl. (Don’t be tempted to try a food processor for this; it will turn them to glue.)
ADD a healthy pinch of salt and all the flour to the potatoes; working in the flour with a wooden spoon; then knead the dough gently for about 5 minutes on a lightly floured board or wooden work surface.
TASTE and knead in more salt if you wish; but be careful not to overwork the dough – it should be soft and supple.
DIVIDE the dough into 5 or 8 equal pieces.
ROLL each piece into a rope about 3/4 inch in diameter and 8 to 10 inches long. Cut each snake into regular pieces about 3/4 inch long. Continue until all the dough has been rolled and cut.
IF you wish; roll each gnocco (yes; that’s the singular of gnocchi) over the large holes of a cheese grater or along the tines of a fork to impress the soft dough with a pattern.
BRING a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil and drop in the gnocchi. (Do this in two batches if it’s easier.)
BOIL the gnocchi until they rise to the top; then remove them with a slotted skimmer and transfer them to a heated platter or bowl.
SERVE immediately; with a Bolognese (ragu) sauce; or one of these sauces (these gnocchi have a wonderful; delicate taste and can be served with a bit of melted butter or a few drops of good olive oil; and grated Parmesan).
SPOON half of the sauce over the gnocchi and mix gently; then garnish with the remaining sauce or ragu’ and a little grated cheese; if desired.
Flavours of Tuscany