What are gnocchi exactly? They are heavenly pillows of soft, light, potato goodness that showcase whatever sauce you throw their way. When done right they are quite a treat and well worth the effort.
Basic Gnocchi (adapted from a William Sonoma recipe)
**First of all, make sure you have everything gathered and ready to go. These come together pretty quickly once the potatoes happen so it's better to be prepared!**
4 large Russet potatoes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg (grate your own…fresh is soooo much better)
1/4 tsp white pepper (I've also used fine black)
2 1/2 c all purpose flour (plus a little extra for rolling)
Boil potatoes until fork soft and peel immediately (to make peeling easier you can use a kitchen towel to hold the hot spuds while you take the skin off). Then put through the medium or small disk of a food mill or potato ricer.
(This is what it looks like after the food mill…yay…uniform taters!)
Mound the milled tubers on a lightly floured surface and make a well in the center. Pour eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg into the well.
Sprinkle 1 c of the flour over the potatoes and using a fork or those little things on your hands called "fingers" and gradually blend the eggs, potato and flour together (adding more flour as needed) to form a firm but moist dough. It's critical here to not overwork the dough and should take about 5 minutes. If you overwork the dough they will be like dense, doughy potato pellets (like the ones you get in the freezer section at the grocery store)…and that's just gross.
Now divide your dough into 6 equal pieces.
Roll each chunk of dough into 3/4 inch thick ropes. You can also flour the surface lightly when/if the dough gets too sticky.
Now my favorite part! Cut each rope into about 1" pieces. Using your thumb, tines of a fork or a beautiful gnocchi board (like I used in the above picture) GENTLY roll each piece to give them the signature grooves that hold all the lovely sauce you're about to put them in.
To cook your little lovelies, toss them in boiling water for about 4-6 minutes until they float to the top (you may need to cook them in batches). Drain and toss with your sauce of choice. I like a good old fashioned marinara with a generous sprinkling of cheese or tossed in a little browned sage butter. DELICIOUS!