Potato gnocchi are a common alternative to pasta in first courses. They are made by mixing riced potatoes with flour and egg. There are, however, several other types of gnocchi, such as ‘gnocchi alla romana’ (typical of central Italy) which are made with semolina flour (and without potatoes). In the area near the Austrian border, flour ‘gnocchetti’ (the equivalent of the German spätzle) are used as an accompaniment instead of rice or potatoes.
This recipe yields 5-6 servings. It’s quite simple to make but may easily take 2 ½ hours.
- 2 ¼ pounds (1 Kg) whole unpeeled Russet (Bakers) potatoes.
- about 2 ½ cups (350 g) white all-purpose flour.
- 1 egg.
- ½ teaspoon salt.
- Boil the whole unpeeled russet potatoes, previously washed and scrubbed (fig. 1). This will take 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Alternatively, the potatoes can be baked in the microwave for about 6-8 minutes after having punched holes in them with a fork. Russet potatoes (also called Bakers) are particularly suitable because high in starch and low in moisture.
- Cut each boiled potato in half and mash it in a ricer; the skin will remain in the ricer to be disposed.
- Allow the mashed potatoes to cool, then add the flour (fig. 2).
- Work together flour and potatoes until you obtain an evenly crumbly mix.
- Add the whole egg and the salt (fig. 3).
- Mix and kneed for 2 minutes. The dough should feel light and fluffy, sufficiently elastic and not too sticky (fig. 4). If later on, during the process, the dough starts to feel sticky again, add enough flour to prevent it.
- Cut the dough in fist-size pieces, then roll out each piece until you have a long roll about ½ inch in diameter. Cut the rolls into 1 inch pieces (fig. 5).
- Roll each gnocco over on a fork to produce the well known indentations (see the picture below) - the corrugated texture will help the sauce bind.
- Let the gnocchi rest on a well floured plate or tray, ensuring they stay separated (fig. 6).
Note: Gnocchi can be frozen at this stage, and then kept in the freezer in air-tight containers for up to 4 weeks.
- Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling water until they float. Frozen gnocchi can also be boiled directly without thawing, just ensure you do so in small batches to avoid interrupting the boil.
- Warm up the sauce in a skillet. Drain and add the cooked gnocchi to the sauce allowing them to become fully coated.
- Serve in pre-heated plates with Parmigiano cheese if the sauce calls for it.