Grandmom's Gnocchi


1 pound russet potatoes
2 to 3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting board and dough
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmegiano (Michael's addition - not traditional)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (Michael's addition - not traditional)


Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch dice and boil until barely soft. Drain thoroughly and allow to cool and dry. Alternatively (not Grandmom's method), bake in a 425-degree oven until a bit overcooked, about 45 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle, cut in half, and scoop out the flesh. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer or grate them on the large holes of a box grater. You should have about 2 cups. Make a mound of potatoes on the counter with a well in the middle, add 2 eggs, (if using Michael's version also add the cheese and nutmeg) and salt. Mix in the potatoes and mix well with hands. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour over the potatoes and, using your knuckles, press it into the potatoes. Fold the mass over on itself and press down again. Sprinkle on more flour, little by little, folding and pressing the dough until it just holds together, (try not to knead it and the less flour you can use the lighter the gnocchi) Work any dough clinging to your fingers back into the dough. If the mixture is too dry, add another egg or a little water or light white wine. The dough should give under slight pressure. It will feel firm but yielding. To test if the dough is the correct consistency, take a piece and roll it with your hands on a well-floured board into a rope 1/2-inch in diameter. If the dough holds together, it is ready. If not, add more flour, fold and press the dough several more times, and test again. Keeping your work surface and the dough lightly floured, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 1/2-inch in diameter. Cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces. Lightly flour the gnocchi as you cut them. You can cook these as is or form them into the classic gnocchi shape with the tines of a large fork turned upside down. Rest the tines on the work surface, then tilt it at about a 45 degree angle. Take each piece of dough and squish it lightly with your thumb against the fork while simultaneously pushing across the tines. It will roll around your thumb, taking on a cupped shape with ridges on the outer curve from the fork and a smooth surface on the inner curve where your thumb was. (Shaping them takes some time and dexterity. Grandmom could do an entire batch in about 5-minutes while simultaneously laughing at the barbell shape of my gnocchi.) The indentation holds the sauce and helps gnocchi cook faster. As you shape the gnocchi, dust them lightly with flour and scatter them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or waxed paper. If you will not cook the gnocchi until the next day or later, freeze them. Alternatively, you can poach them now, drain and toss with a little olive oil, let cool, then refrigerate several hours or overnight. To reheat, dip in hot water for 10 to 15 seconds. When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Drop in the gnocchi and cook for about 90 seconds from the time they rise to the surface. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a skimmer, shake off the excess water, and serve as desired.
Notes: This recipe is about 2/3 of what Grandmom would make. To freeze shaped gnocchi, line baking sheets with waxed paper and dust with flour. Spread the gnocchi on the prepared sheets and freeze until hard. Remove to individual-portion-size freezer bags. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. To cook, drop the frozen gnocchi into boiling salted water. Cook for about 2 minutes after they rise to the surface.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Origin: Elenor Ricci
Uploaded by: Michael Smith
Added on: 2006-12-03 21:35:38