Monday, November 26, 2007

Homemade Gnocchi

So the Big Eating Day is finally over and I have no turkey post for you. Not that I didn't have turkey- I had plenty of it plus oyster stuffing (my absolute favorite!), sausage stuffing, corn, watercress salad, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, uni mousse and pumpkin pie at my parents house. All of it was delicious, but I'll leave the posting of that to my sis since she took photos and all that.

This post is somewhat Thanksgiving related. You see, my parents bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes with which to make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, but of course 10pounds was about 8 pounds more than we needed. So, in addition to the usual turkey/stuffing packs that they send home with us, they also added a few potatoes to each parting gift. It's strange- as much as I love potatoes, I rarely buy them. Maybe it was the whole carb thing that scared me off of them for awhile.....well wait, I still eat loads of bread so that can't be it...but for some reason they don't find their way into my kitchen often. I stared at the little suckers and wondered what to do.

Milled potatoes

Then it hit me. Gnocchi! I'd been meaning to try my hand at the small dumpling-like knobs of dough for awhile, but I'd also been a bit fearful. I'd heard so many tales of how overworking the dough resulted in tough erasers or how not kneading the dough enough resulted in the gnocchi falling apart in the boiling water. I set my fears aside and opened up my trusty Mario Batali cookbook. It seemed easy enough- potatoes, check. Egg, check. Flour, check. I boiled my potatoes and got to work.

The skins came off easily from the still-hot potatoes and I ran them through my food mill which resulted in a big pile of fluffiness. After a liberal sprinkle of flour and one egg and a bit of salt, I worked the mass with a fork until it came together. I continued to knead it with my hands for only four minutes, as the recipe said, and it ended up in a nice ball- still a bit tacky but not at all sticky.

Now the time consuming part began. After dividing the dough into six sections, I realized that I needed to divide it even more in order to easily roll each into a one-inch rope that would still fit on my cutting board. For the next hour or so, I rolled, cut, rolled over tongs of a fork, placed on a cookie sheet and then boiled a batch for one minute, dumped the gnocchi into an ice bath and did it all over again about four times. It did take some patience but I got the hang of it after awhile, and I was pleased to see that the cooled gnocchi did not stick together at all. Mario's recipe calls for you to toss the finished gnocchi in 1/2 cup of oil in order to store it, but I skipped that step entirely since it was unnecessary and I didn't want my gnocchi coated with oil.

Boiled and cooled gnocchi

The recipe made a LOT of gnocchi so I bagged a couple of batches into ziploc bags and froze them. Then I took my portion, boiled it in salted water until they floated to the surface and tossed them in homemade marinara mixed with chicken sausage and eggplant. A sprinkle of parmesan later and dinner was served.

How were they? TOTALLY worth the effort!! It's true what they say- homemade gnocchi are as light as air if done right and these were fluffy and tender. Each was like a potato pillow and would be delicious tossed with just a bit of browned butter and pecorino, as well as a heartier tomato sauce or pesto. I would definitely make these again, and it's a good thing that one recipe makes so many of them. Mario himself stated that you could make any old weeknight meal special by whipping out a batch of these homemade gnocchi, and he's right. I'm looking forward to eating them again and again.

Recipe here.


Allison said...

your gnocchi are very cute! was the one minute in boiling water enough to cook them, or was that a par-boil before freezing? the last time i made gnocchi, i froze some without boiling at all, then when i made them (straight into the boiling water frozen), they just disintegrated into mush.

foodette said...

Wow, those look amazing - While it's a lot of work, it doesn't seem too complicated. My husband and I both love gnocci, but I have never been brave enough to try making it. I guess I'll ask him for a potato ricer/food mill for the holidays this year, and then get to work!

Thanks for the inspiration :)

Chubbypanda said...

You know, if you leave the skins in, potatoes are actually the perfect food when it comes to essential vitamins and nutrients. I wonder if it's possible to make skin-in gnocchi.

Anne said...

themirthmobile: the one minute is par-boiling. After the ice bath, I cooked them a second time (just until they float) and then topped with sauce. I think the par-boiling and shocking in ice water probably helps to set it up. Good luck!

foodette: thanks- I was surprised at how easy these were. Sure, they took a bit of time but it was quite a simple process. It's funny- I've had my food mill forever but never really used it, but it's perfect for milling potatoes for gnocchi!

tschoerda said...

i never had the nerve to tackle homemade gnocci but you make it look so easy! yes, i am convinced now: i have to try them too! thank you for the inspiration! it is time to restart my blog now!


Anonymous said...

It looks delicious, I'm going to try it, thanks for sharing! Why don't more people talk about the food?!