6.24.2011

Gnocchi (to go with those Grilled Lamb Chops)


I love anything potato.  I did not have an Italian grandma who taught me how to make these (I sure wish I did).  I ate them once, fell in love with them.  Im German and Irish, like I wouldn't love anything with so much potato????

I discovered that they are not as difficult as they seem and they are just so good.  Its also that making fresh dough thing.  There is something very therapeutic about it.  

Gnocchi

4 large Idaho Baking Potatoes
2 Eggs
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1-1/2 Flour

Wash and pierce the potatoes with a fork.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until tender and done.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle.  Cut the potatoes lengthwise, in half.  Scoop out the flesh.  (Set the skins aside and make some Smokey Potato Skins).  Do not cool the potatoes too long.  You want to work with the potatoes while they are still warm.  It helps in making a light and pillowy gnocchi.  

Place the potato flesh in the center of a mixing board or mat, so they are all in a large mound.  Make a well in the center of the mound.  In the well add the eggs, salt and pepper.  Now, this is where it is really good to mix these "old-school".  Make sure your hands are clean (and your jewelry removed!).  Taken your hand and with a swirling motion, beginning to mix the egg mixture into the potatoes, scooping up some potatoes from the side as you move around the circle.  Sprinkle the mound with flour as you work, to help bind the mix into a light dough.  It should only take about 3-4 minutes to mix everything together, including the flour into the potato mix.  The key here is to NOT over-mix.  The less you mix, the warmer the potatoes, the lighter and pillowy the gnocchi will be.  

Once the dough is combined, Knead the dough (like you would a bread dough) for a very few short minutes.  The dough will be sticky enough to stick to your hands.  Just scrape it off and work it back into the mix.   Form a nice soft ball.  

Now, wash your hands, making sure to dry them completely.  Lightly dust the mound of dough.   Divide the dough into two equal portions.   Set one piece aside.  Now cut the piece into three pieces.  

Making the gnocchi:  Taking a piece of the cut dough, roll the dough out with your hands (gently) into a long rope.  You may have to continue to lightly dust the dough, which is normal.  Just edit yourself and err on the side of too little flour, rather than too much. 

Once the dough is in a long rope (about 1/2 inch thick), cut the pieces of dough into about 1/2 to 1 inch pieces, making sure you have a consistent size.  Lightly flour the pieces and set aside.  

Now here is where I differ from most people.  I did not grow up with an italian grandma who showed me the tips and tricks of rolling the pieces of dough onto fork tines to make the pretty little indentations of a gnocchi.  I have tried and frankly, am just impatient, so I dont roll them.  I ask why? Cause they taste the same ?  If you have mastered this art or want to give it a go, youtube is a great place to watch and learn how to roll the gnocchi.  If not...

Heat a pot of lightly salted  water (about 6 quarts worth) to boiling, as you would if you were making any kind of pasta.  When the water is boiling, drop half of your gnocchi into the pot of water.   When they float to the top, they are done.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them in a large skillet, with melted butter.  Wait until the water has come to a boil again, then drop the remaining gnocchi pieces into the water and do the same.  

I serve my gnocchi with browned butter and fresh sage.  I also make a blue cheese sauce and once cooked, drop them in the bleu cheese sauce.  You can also just heat up or prepare from scratch, your own marinara sauce and pour some of that over the fresh cooked gnocchi.  

Serve the above with a nice green salad and some homemade lemonade!  Enjoy your weekend!