I had been planning on blogging this weekend. As in desperately wishing for a day in the kitchen and making lists upon lists of recipes, techniques and ingredients all week long. You see, we went to Mexico last weekend. Puerto Vallarta to be specific. I dutifully typed up some posts, set the timer and didn’t look back. Yes, I will go into more detail later. I also didn’t bring my camera, which I very much regret. See, I am a little paranoid about airlines losing my luggage – which is strange considering no airline has ever even come close to losing my luggage. I also worry about the camera going through the xray machine. These are all baseless concerns and make me sound like a crazy person, I realize.
And since we’re on the subject of being crazy, I found 2 potatoes in my fridge yesterday morning and promptly decided to make gnocchi. Gnocchi is a recipe I’ve always eyed and never tried. I was a scaredy cat about it. Oddly enough (and I’m a little ashamed to admit this) the first time I tried gnocchi was at a dinner buffet in Vegas. I used to be a very picky eater, and adamant that I “hated” all kinds of foods, most of which I had never tried. Since then I have a strict policy about always trying everything several times, even if it’s on my dislike list. This is relevant how? At the Vegas buffet there were very few foods I was willing to eat, and gnocchi looks like pasta – aka safe food. No surprise, I loved it (and still have dreams of actually eating all of the delicious food I turned down that one horribly misguided time).
So, after pulling the potatoes out of my bottom fridge drawer, I pretty much lunged across the room for my computer to look up a basic recipe. Thanks to Deb at smittenkitchen.com – one of my favorite food blogs and always trustworthy advice, I found out I could grate the potatoes for the correct consistency instead of using a mill or a potato ricer. Did I even know there was a chance I’d need a mill or ricer? NOPE. So an easily solved problem I didn’t even know I had.
Gnocchi (Adapted from Deb’s recipe on smittenkitchen.com)
2 pounds Russet potatoes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
This is the original recipe. I had to alter slightly as I only had 2 potatoes. They were heavy potatoes, but very unlikely 2 pounds worth. I’m just guessing here. I wasn’t going to throw them on the bathroom scale to find out. I used half an egg and just slowly added flour until my dough was formed.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick potatoes with a fork to allow even and thorough cooking and bake for 45 minutes, turning over halfway. Let them cool and peel. I used a paring knife to remove the skin and I think would be easier to do it this way than with a vegetable peeler.
Grate the peeled potatoes on a grater with large holes, put in a bowl. Add salt and the egg, lightly beaten. Start adding flour, a little bit at a time. Apparently, the less flour you use the better. It makes sense because the dough becomes more and more dense as you add flour, and you want your gnocchi to turn out light and fluffy. Or maybe you don’t, in which case, flour away.
I added a little more flour to it after this picture. But not much more. You’re going to incorporate the dough together with your hands. This step really unnerved me. The gnocchi dough is decidedly different than a traditional bread or pasta dough. I don’t have anything in my experience to compare it to. I kept thinking the dough wasn’t pulled together enough and that I wasn’t doing it right. This led to me yelling shrilly and frantically from the kitchen to S (who was manning the computer) “Does it say what does the consistency should be like? What is it supposed to feel like? Can you google? I think I’m effing this up… This can’t be right!” If you think these things while wrestling with any gnocchi dough know you are not alone.
Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead with the heel of your hand for 4-5 minutes. I had to incorporate a little more flour in this stage because the dough was still a little sticky. Cut into 4-6 pieces.
Using your fingertips, roll each section into a thin rope about 3/4 of an inch thick. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Cut the rope into 1 inch sections.
You know what the most frustrating part of making gnocchi is? The little stinking fork marks. I mean, seriously. Using the tines of a fork, you are supposed to be able to roll the gnocchi off the fork and have perfect marks. This did not happen for me. I ended up kind of mashing them on the fork and then trying to squish them back in a recognizable form. They look nice in the picture, but there were a good 30 minutes of me melodramatically decrying a fork-gnocchi conspiracy that would be the death of me.
Even though I only used 2 potatoes, I still had a substantial amount of gnocchi. I set a second tray in the freezer to cook later. Once frozen, I put them in a plastic bag (thanks for this tip too, Deb). This way I won’t have a bag of mush when I go to cook them.
Drop gnocchi into a pot of boiling, salted water. I was nervous and dropped them in one at a time. I realize this was completely ridiculous and I think you can probably just drop them in. Once the gnocchi start floating, continue to cook for an additional minute and drain.
I then sauteed mine in a simple sauce of butter, onions, garlic, mushrooms and white wine. I then topped with Parmesan cheese. Delicious. I was seriously shoveling these into my mouth at a most unladylike pace. S commented “they actually taste like gnocchi”, which I’m taking as pretty high praise. Lovely. I can’t wait to use this recipe again. I also saw some mentions of “ricotta gnocchi” in the midst of my recipe searching… I’m intrigued.
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