Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mambo Italitano!

Dinner last night: Gnocchi with spinach and parmesan cream sauce
Gnocchi is one my favorite foods of all time. When I studied abroad in Florence, I (no joke) would order gnocchi for my first course and risotto for my second course every single night. I am crediting my 20-year old metabolism with not looking like a beached whale. 
Last night, I brought a little of Florence home with me, and I made homemade gnocchi. Gnocchi is Italian potato dumplings that melt in your mouth, and you can top them with any sauce your heart desires. My brother is a chef, and taught me how to make gnocchi a few years ago. Nothing like having a Michelin star chef give you a cooking demo! I can now scoff at those rubbery vacuum sealed versions in the grocery. There truly is nothing like homemade. 
I know gnocchi can be scary to a lot of people - nothing like spending an hour on dough only to have it evaporate when you drop it in the water. But I think I have a fool proof method (and they can successfully be made in 2 days in advance). However, your kitchen will look like a bomb went off. 

(Makes 10 servings)
3 lbs Russet Potatoes (it's important you get russet. They have the proper starch content)
2 cups flour (with at least 1 cup extra)
1 XL Egg
1/2 cup Canola Oil
pinch of salt

Boil the potatoes with the skin on for 45 minutes. Remove the skins (yes, it will be HOT!)
Pass through a potato ricer (if you don't have a potato ricer, the sausage grinder function on a Kitchen Aid will work, a food mill, or passing it through a fine mesh sieve - but trust me, you don't want to have to do it this way)
Boil 6 cups water and make an ice bath with 6 cups water. 
Make a well in the center of the potatoes. Sprinkle with the 2c flour. crack an egg in the center of the well and sprinkle with salt. 
Use a fork to scramble the egg and incorporate it into the flour and potato. Once incorporated, knead the dough until it forms a ball. Then knead an additional 4 minutes or until the dough ball is pretty dry. Slowly add more flour if your dough is too wet. 
Cut dough ball into eighths. Take each portion and roll it out into a thin log. cut 3/4" pieces. Roll on a gnocchi board or use a fork edge to create an indention. 
Boil in water. When the gnocchi floats to the top, it is ready. Use a handheld strainer to remove the finished gnocchi. If preparing for the future, put in ice bath. Once chilled, remove and toss in canola oil. The gnocchi will be good for 2 days - which is about how long it takes to clean the kitchen up. 

*If your gnocchi evaporates when you put it in the water, it needs more flour. So it is important to test your dough as you cook. 

The potato ricer keeps the potato light and fluffy. It's great for mashed potatoes too.
 Egg in the well
 Adding the egg
 Dough ball
 Dough log
 Chop it up
 Roll it out
 Boil it up

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