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Author Notes: It's taken me years, but I've perfected my Gnocchi, so why not share it with all of you as I didn't find many recipes for just plain old Gnocchi on the site, though there were many with variations, but I'm an old-fashioned Italian and I like them the way Nonne in Italy have made them for years (though in some parts of Italy Gnocchi is made with either ricotta or semolina - but more on that another time!) —Jenifer Mangione Vogt
- 3 Large Russet, or Idaho, Potatoes
- 3 Large Egg Yolks (OK to add a little of the white)
- 1/2 cup Freshly-grated Parmesan (but not the coarsely grated kind)
- 1 dash Nutmeg
- 1 cup Flour
- You’ll also need… A large wooden board A slotted spoon Very clean hands!
- Bake the potatoes at 425° for about 45 minutes, or until you start to smell them charring slightly. The key word being slightly. You want to bake the moisture out of them. This is key to good gnocchi because if there’s moisture in the potatoes, it will make it difficult for the dough to congeal the right way. Some people say you should boil the potatoes. I don’t agree with that and the years have taught me that baking them is better.
- Let the potatoes cool and then peel the skin. You don’t need to get the second, interior layer off entirely—just the exterior skin. There will still be some charred spots on the potatoes and that’s OK.
- Pess the potatoes against the large holes on a cheese grater. Some recipes ask you to use a ricer. I’ve never used the ricer. Use a fork to mash the potatoes against the side of the bowl. Don’t try to make the potatoes perfectly smooth. A little lumpiness will make the gnocchi lighter.
- Make a well in the middle of the potatoes and add ½ cup of Parmesan cheese. Add the dash of nutmeg.
- Add 3 egg yolks. (Keep some of the egg whites you might want to add it in later depending on the consistency of your dough as making gnocchi, as you'll learn, is not always an exact science.)
- At this point, if you haven’t already, wash your hands really well. I’ve never known an Italian to use a Kitchen Aid with gnocchi. This is “hands on” pasta! Your hands are the best tool with gnocchi. Start kneading the mixture between your fingers. It will be sticky. When it looks a little like egg salad you’re good. It’s OK if its a little lumpy.
- First, add just ½ cup of the flour and mix it in with your hands. The dough will still be sticky and will stick to your hands.
- Gradually begin to add the remaining half cup of flour, kneading and mixing the dough between your fingers. Th stickiness will start going away and you’ll feel suppleness to the dough. It’s perfect when its slightly springy.
- Sprinkle flour and spread it across the wooden board. At this point you should have a ball of dough, which you’ll place on the board and dust with the flour. On the board, continue to roll the dough, dusting it with the flour, creating one large ball. Cut the ball into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long string about 1 inch in diameter.
- Cut the string into ¼ to ½ inch pieces. You’ll be creating what many people call “little pillows.” Now, here you can make a decision. A lot of people like to push each piece against a fork to create a texture that they feel will hold the sauce better. I prefer not to do this, and most of the Italians I know from Italy don’t do it either. But the choice is yours.
- Place the gnocchi pillows on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Now, here’s my tip, but you only need to do this if you live where there is humidity. Place the gnocchi in the freezer for no more than 15 minutes just to let them set.
- Boil a pot of water with olive oil and a little bit of salt. The olive oil is important with gnocchi so don’t skip it. (yes, I realize this is contrary to what many chefs on T.V. tell you, but an Italian chef taught me this!)
- You’ll need a slotted spoon. Place the gnocchi into the boiling water in batches, just a handful at a time. They’ll start to boil to the top of the water. Before you remove them, wait about 3 minutes and just let them boil. Don’t use a strainer with gnocchi. Instead, remove them using the slotted spoon.