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Potato Gnocchi

Potato Gnocchi

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Serves 6 to 8.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from several recipes.

Gnocchi is easy to make. As a classic dish of Italy, you will see recipes and variations in many cookbooks. My first attempt, served with pesto, came out perfect. I attended an Italian cooking course for nine months and every quarter at least one student would ask the instructor for gnocchi. The “chef” always said they were too difficult to make. I think she simply didn’t know how.

For this recipe I experimented with four formulas. I found that a simple blend of steamed potato and cake flour or all-purpose flour produced the best formed gnocchi with the best melt-in-your-mouth soft and tender texture.

Ingredients:

2 russet (Idaho) potatoes, about 1 pound each; whole and not peeled
1 cup (5 ounces/142g) of cake flour or all-purpose flour for each pound of cooked, riced potatoes
½ teaspoon salt
Optional: 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Directions:

Set up a medium saucepan with a steamer basket and about 1½ cups (350ml) of water in the bottom. Heat to boiling, place the potatoes whole and not peeled in the steamer basket, and put the lid on the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and steam the potatoes until tender all the way through. I find it best to test with a digital thermometer, as cooking times can vary depending on the type of potato, its size and moisture content, etc. The potato is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 210°F (99°C). For this recipe, my potatoes steamed for about 60 minutes to reach temperature.

Peel the potatoes by holding them in a towel (they’re hot) while removing the skin. Mash by pressing through a potato ricer fitted with a small screen. Weigh the riced potatoes and calculate the flour. Place the appropriate amount of flour with the salt (and optional nutmeg) on a clean surface and put the riced potatoes on top. Using a bench scraper, gently turn and cut the mixture together until a dough begins to form. (Too much kneading will make the gnocchi gummy.) Press the mixture together with your hands and allow to rest a few minutes.

Flour a working surface. Remove a fist-sized ball of the dough and roll to a rope with a thickness about equal to your index finger. Cut the rope into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and either roll on a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork to shape a gnocchi with ridges.

Heat water to boiling. Boil the gnocchi, about a dozen at a time, until they float to the surface. Remove from the water with a strainer and keep warm. They cook in about a minute or two.

When all the gnocchi are cooked, serve with your favorite sauce. I like olive oil and garlic or pesto.