Subsections

Gnocchi

This is a traditional recipe from my family, there is other versions with eggs and different flours, all really good but different in texture and taste: as usual feel free to experiment different versions and choose your favourite!

Be careful: this is a labour intensive recipe: it will take many hours and much practice to perfection. Don't set the bar too high and try to develop a feeling for pasta rolling before attempting it!

Ingredients for 6 hungry people  

Procedure

  1. Steam-cook the potatoes until soft;
  2. Let them cool down for 5 minutes, until they are manageable but not cold, then peel and mash them;
  3. Mix like a dough, while slowly adding the flour;
  4. Stop adding the flour when it stops “absorbing” easily, i.e. when feels consistent like a dough and not anymore like mashed potatoes;
  5. Add the olive oil and mix until completly distributed;
  6. Cut approximately 100 - 200g of dough and make a “snake” of a cilindric shape of diameter 1.5cm with your hands;
  7. Cut it in segments approximately 2cm long;
  8. (Optional) take the gnocchi machine or a fork and shape them as shown in figure [*], this will allow the sauce to adhere better and be more tasty (see tip below);
  9. Distribute evenly on the kitchen cloth and let them dry, then add the rice flour;
  10. Put on 4L of water in a pot, warm up the tomato sauce in a pan, and cut the cheese in 0.5 cm3 slim strips;
  11. When boiling add salt to the water and carefully drop the gnocchi in;
  12. When they float they are ready (or almost) to be drained: try one to see if they still need a minute (the texture should be really soft but not come apart), carefully lift them with a skimmer, and layer them with the cheese and tomato sauce;
  13. Let it rest for a minute so that the cheese melts, then serve warm with parmesan on top.

Be careful: potatoes must be the big old ones, the small, freshly harvested, won't work.

Tip: depending on the type of potatoes the amount of flour will vary, the best amount is about 200-250g per Kg of raw potatoes. The more “floury” the potatoes the less the flour needed.

Tip: rice flour can be replaced with the normal one, but all the professionals use it because it leaves almost no taste while being a really powerful driying agent, as well as dissolving while cooking it.

Tip: gnocchi are better when striped, rather than cylindric chunks: the sauce will adhere better, filling all the cavities, the softness will be more even and the shape will allow the taste to be felt better. The procedure is a huge hassle, especially when making many, and is not mandatory.

Tip: the traditional sauce is presented, but they are really good with strong cheeses, like gorgonzola, meats or plain tomato sauce if you feel like keeping it vegan. I've tried them with (rapa rossa) and Gorgonzola, arugula and Gorgonzola, pesto, rag├╣, roast gravy (as described in the Agnolotti, see [*]), along many other sauces.

Tip: gnocchi can be conserved for 4 days in the fridge or frozen up to a year, but make them dry overnight on the kitchen cloth and use up to 200g rice flour per Kg of potatoes to ensure they won't stick together.
Figure: Gnocchi machine (1) and its use (2, 3). It looks like a wooden board, with chieseled many long strips, in a zig-zag pattern. Press from the top with the thumb (2), without smashing it on the board, then slide it on it (3) with the purpose of creating a striped outer shell with a cavity. If done with a fork the procedure is identical, just use the tines of the fork to stripe the gnocchi.
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Aron Wussler