Gnocchi, yum! I love gnocchi! Homemade gnocchi is amazing, soft little pillows that brown and hold sauces beautifully... While I will happily eat store bought gnocchi, because they are also delicious, there is such a difference when you make it yourself. The gnocchi is softer, delicate, and just wonderful!
2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
2 cups (plus more) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks (room temperature)
1 egg (room temperature)
To begin, I weigh my potatoes. I weigh them before I've peeled them, so if I'm a few ounces over 2 lb., I don't worry about it. Do you have a scale that you use in your kitchen? We started using a scale a few years ago and I really like it! It's helpful when recipes are in weight, which I feel like a lot are? Anyhow, I think we got our scale at Bed Bath & Beyond and it's super useful!
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and in the meantime, peel your potatoes. If you are going to peel your potatoes but aren't going to boil them yet, put them in a bowl of cool water so they won't turn a rusty color. I actually peeled my potatoes the day before I made my gnocchi. But if you are boiling them right away, when the water is close to boiling, add some salt and then the potatoes. I had pretty small potatoes so I boiled them for 20 minutes. If they are larger, you might increase the time by a few minutes. You want them to be totally cooked so that they'll go through a potato ricer really easily! Combine the egg and egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk. In a large bowl, place 1 cup of flour and mix with the salt. This is where you're going to mix the gnocchi dough with your hands.
When the potatoes are done boiling, remove from the water and allow to cool down for about 5-10 minutes. Using a potato ricer and working in batches, press about half the potatoes into the bowl with the flour and salt. Using your hands, work the potato, flour and salt together, forming a wet, sticky dough being careful not to overwork the dough. Add the egg, kneading with one hand as you do. The temperature of the potatoes can't be so hot that a) it hurts your hands! and b) it cooks the egg. So... not so hot. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and remaining potatoes, through the ricer. Continue to mix with your hands until a sticky dough comes together. If it's so sticky you can't imagine working with it, add some more flour. But it's ok if it is somewhat sticky- you don't want to overwhelm the potato content by adding too much flour. Also, by kneading too much, the flour can increase chewiness by what happens to gluten... Good for making baguettes and other chewy bread, bad for making gnocchi...
On a floured work surface, take fist sized portions of dough and roll them into long pieces roughly as thick as your thumb. Using either a knife or a pastry scraper, cut the long piece into smaller pieces, roughly 1" in length. You don't want your gnocchi to be too big, about the size of the first knuckle of your thumb is a good proxy. Now is the fun part :) So gnocchi enthusiasts are adamant that gnocchi should not be totally smooth- how can it hold on to any sauce then? You may either use a fork, a wooden gnocchi board designed just for this purpose, or some other similar surface to impart small grooves on the gnocchi. I have a little wooden gnocchi board, it's too cute! Do I need it? No, I could really do it with a fork, but I think having the little wooden gnocchi board inspires me to make gnocchi! So that's good right there.
So... if you are going to boil these beautiful creations right away and eat them, go ahead and put the grooves in the pieces, rolling them either on a fork or a gnocchi board. If you aren't going to eat them right away, you want to make sure that how you store them has enough flour and room so they don't stick together. I freeze what I'm not using right away, but make sure they aren't so sticky that while they freeze they stick together and make a big mess!
Now that we've made our individual gnocchi, let's boil them in salted water until they float, it's really fast, about 2 minutes. Remove them immediately. For a really simple presentation, heat some unsalted butter and olive oil on the stove, add the gnocchi (after it's been boiled) and let it get a little bit of color. Serve! You may also cook the gnocchi with some butter and sage leaves or add Parmesan after browning in butter.
You can do a lot with gnocchi, this recipe is just how to make the delightful pasta. My husband has come up with a DELICIOUS gnocchi dish that browns the gnocchi in butter, then combines it with peas, corn and truffle oil. It's amazing. He strongly feels that it's so rich, though, that it should be a small portion and a first course. Stay tuned, we'll post this recipe soon! (You can use your homemade gnocchi you made!)