Last year it was bread baking and this year it’s homemade pasta. A silver lining of the pandemic is how adventurous we’re being in the kitchen. We’ve invited Jonathan Edgerton of The Gentleman Farmer in Maine back to our demo kitchen to show us how to make homemade gnocchi so we can add another recipe we thought was too hard to our list of cooking and baking accomplishments.
1-1/2 lbs russet potatoes (weight after peeling)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (not bread flour)
Gnocchi lend themselves to a number of different sauces. Favorites include:
• Butter & Sage (melt four tablespoons butter and add 10 to 12 small or medium sized sage leaves. Cook gently until golden brown)
• Tomato & Onion (coarsely chop and sautee one medium onion in a tablespoon of butter until hot begins to caramelize. Add a 14 oz can of tomato sauce and a half teaspoon of salt and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes)
• Pesto (use either basil pesto or any of a number of other variations)
• Gorgonzola (warm 2/3 cup of light cream in a small pan, and then add 3 tablespoons of crumbled gorgonzola. Being careful not to bring the mixture to aboil, work the bits of cheese with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and uniform)
• Meat Ragu (tomato based meat sauces, especially with sausage, are particularly good with gnocchi)
Peel the potatoes and cut them into even-sized pieces. Boil them in salted water until just done. Drain them completely and dry with a paper towel. Process the potatoes into a bowl using a potato ricer.
Add the flour, reserving 1/4 cup to be added only if needed (it’s quite difficult to “rescue” a batch if you get too much flour in it). Knead the mixture until fully blended and of a smooth consistency. Try not to over-work
it, and add flour only as needed – it should remain soft and slightly sticky.
Dust the work surface with flour and roll the dough into a series of “snakes”, each about 3/4 inch in diameter. Cut the snakes into 1-inch sections – it’s important that they all be the same size, as you want them to cook equally. Gently use a gnocchi board or the back of a fork to imprint ridges (to hold the sauce), and place them on a clean tea towel. The trick is to have soft dough but not lose its shape when imprinting the ridges.
This is a critical element. Bring a large (6 to 8 quart) pot of well-salted water to a boil. Use 1 heaping teaspoon salt per quart of water. Start by boiling one gnocchi to confirm the cooking time – usually 2 to 3 minutes, depending on size. it should take only a few seconds after they float to the surface. Boil them in a couple (or three) batches to avoid overcrowding, and when they are done, remove them promptly with a large slotted spoon or strainer. Let them drain and place them in a large pasta bowl, saucing them in batches as they are done. When they have all been added to the bowl and sauced, toss them gently to make sure they are well coated and then top with a generous grating of parmesan cheese.