I’ve been wanting to make gnocchi for years. No, really, years. Why did it take so long, you ask? The answer is pretty silly really: everything I have ever read about gnocchi says to not even attempt them without a potato ricer…and I didn’t have one. Yes, one would be tempted to point out that I could have bought a ricer at any point for under 10 dollars. But I would have to counter with: why would I buy a 10$ ricer, which as far as I know only has one use (I know I’m wrong about this, I just don’t know what the other uses are), when I could buy a microplane, or a pretty dishtowel, or something else debatably more useful. The simple answer is that I just never got around to it. And then, look what arrived from Chicago! I’m fairly certain my mom is psychic sometimes.
The ricer showed up a few weeks ago, but although I’m 100% in fall mode, summer has been hanging on like the stubborn buzz kill that she is. This morning though, I woke up to crisp fall sunshine and the gnocchi makin’ was ON! There are gnocchi recipes everywhere, but I decided to go straight to Mario, whom I love with every fiber of my being. If you haven’t been to one of his restaurants, you’re really missing out. He’s capable of taking the simplest of ingredients and doing magical things with them. Anyways. I figured Mario knows what he’s doing, so I put my first gnocchi experience in his capable hands.
The recipe threw me off at first step; you boil the potatoes with the skin on. Weird right? As it turns out, you can skin warm boiled potatoes with ease; the skins slip off like they do off a roasted beet. Neat trick, if you hate peeling potatoes like I do. Anyways, from there things just got simpler. Peel the potatoes, pass them through a ricer, add an egg, some flour, salt, and knead until smooth. Roll the divided dough into long ropes and cut into the desired length. Boil for ONE minute and you’re ready to eat. Plus, there are the added bonuses (I want that word to be boni, btw) of getting kinda mucky in the potatoes and working out some aggression on the dough. Nothing like cooking therapy!
The finished products were a tad large. Next time ill make gnocchetti, or at least pay more attention to my cutting. Overall, I was impressed with how tender and easy they were to make. I feel like they were a little heavier than I would have ideally liked, but I’m sure that this has less to do with the recipe and more to do with the cook And let’s be honest, are pillows of potato ever a bad thing?? For me, they were the perfect fall meal. As for sauce, I decided to keep it simple and go with a basic tomato sauce, again from Mario. Next time I’ll spruce it up a bit…sweet potato gnocchi anyone?
Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce
Directly from Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano. Serves 4-6.
The tomato sauce recipe makes a lot more than is necessary for the gnocchi. Freeze the rest for another use.
Potato gnocchi (gnocchi di patate)
3 lbs. russet potatoes
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 t. kosher salt
2 c. basic tomato sauce (recipe below)
- Place the potatoes, unpeeled, in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a gentle boil. boil until tender, approximately 45 minutes
- Drain the potatoes and peel while still warm. Pass them through a potato ricer (the original recipe calls for a vegetable mill) onto a clean counter
- Bring 6 qts. water to a boil with 1 T. salt. Set up an ice bath
- Make a well in the center of the potatoes. sprinkle the flour over the potatoes and break an egg into the well. Sprinkle the salt onto the egg and use a fork to whisk the egg and salt together
- Using a fork, incorporate the potato and flour into the egg
- Knead gently until the dough forms a ball and continue kneading for 4 minutes, or until the dough is dry to the touch
- Divide the dough into 6 balls. Roll each ball into a rope about 3/4″ thick and then cut it into 1″ pieces
- Roll each piece down the tines of a fork to create the ridges (I skipped this)
- Boil the gnocchi for 1 minute, fishing out and transferring to the ice bath when they begin to float
- If you want, toss with oil and keep up to 2 days
- Otherwise, have 2 cups of basic tomato sauce simmering in a large sauce pan. Transfer gnocchi to sauce pan and simmer until warmed through
Basic Tomato Sauce
4 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, sliced
3 T. fresh thyme
1 small-medium carrot, grated
2, 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
- Heat olive oil over medium heat
- Add onion and garlic cook until soft and slightly brown
- Add the thyme and carrot and cook another 5 minutes
- Add the tomatoes and simmer about 30 minutes
- Season with salt and pepper
- Can be frozen for 6 months