Russet potatoes’ dry, starchy texture and low moisture content provide the necessary lift to make these gnocchi light and fluffy rather than dense and leaden. The key is to use the potatoes’ natural starch, along with the egg yolks, to help bind the gnocchi together without overworking the dough and ending up with gummy, chewy pasta. Paprika brown butter is an easy, smokier alternative to brown butter with with sage, but these gnocchi would be great topped with any kind of sauce.
Pro tip: Buy your russets at least a few days in advance and let them sit at room temperature to allow any extra moisture to naturally evaporate. And when it comes to cooking the potatoes, it’s all about baking—not boiling—to avoid adding unwanted moisture to the dough. (Which also makes this recipe a great way to use up leftover baked potatoes!)
Test Kitchen Notes
These gnocchi make an impressive first course or side dish for a dinner party, but they also make an easy weeknight dinner with a little bit of planning. Complete the recipe through step three, but then pop the baking sheet into the freezer. After the gnocchi are frozen solid (about 45 minutes), transfer them to a freezer bag. They'll keep for up to one month. When you're ready to use the gnocchi, just boil straight from the freezer (allow a little extra cooking time). —The Editors
2 to 4
russet potatoes, scrubbed and pricked all over with a fork
egg yolks, lightly beaten
finely grated parmesan, plus more for serving
freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
⅓ to ½ cups
all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Heat oven to 400°F. Place potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack or directly onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake until completely tender, about 1 hour. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise to allow excess steam to escape and let sit until cool enough to handle.
Scoop potato flesh out of the skins and pass through a ricer or food mill into a large bowl. Stir in yolks, parmesan, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sift ⅓ cup of the flour evenly over potato mixture and, using your hands, gently fold to combine, adding more flour as needed, until a soft, warm dough just comes together.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a loaf. Slice a 1-inch thick portion from the end of the loaf and roll into a ½-inch thick rope. Cut the rope into 1-inch segments and transfer gnocchi to a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until nutty and lightly browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in smoked paprika and pecans. Continue to cook until nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Add gnocchi to water, stirring once to prevent sticking, and cook until all the gnocchi have floated to the surface, about 3 minutes. Using a mesh spider or slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi directly to the skillet and toss to coat in the butter. Add lemon juice, swirling pan to incorporate into a creamy sauce. If the butter mixture appears thin, add several tablespoons of the cooking water, swirling to emulsify. Season to taste and transfer to serving bowls; top with additional parmesan, if desired.