A few years ago, my mom tried to show conn and I how to make gnocchi di patate (potato gnocchi) but we didn't have the proper kitchen tools so they came out mushy and clingy. So later that year, she gave us a ricer (think large-scale garlic press) hoping we'd be churning out the gnocchi like professionals. Alas, that didn't happen.
So on this visit, faced with a big ol' Costco bag of large, starchy, Idaho baking potatoes, we figured we'd finally put that ricer to use and attempt the gnocchi again. Here's what we did, without measurements because my mom doesn't measure anything when she's cooking... only when she's baking. This batch gave us dinner for 7 or 8 (we actually froze about half).
• 4 very large (or 6 medium) baking-type potatoes, like a Russet or Idaho Gold.
• All-purpose flour
• 2 eggs
Put the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until they are fork tender. It's important that you use the starchy baking type of potato.
Let the potatoes cool until the are warm and easy to handle. Peel them and cut them up into pieces that fit in the ricer. The cut pieces here in the pic fit perfectly into our ricer.
Squeeze out the potatoes into a pot or bowl that you can then mix the dough in. It's sort of like Play-Doh Fun Factory. Very cool. See how they get all delicate and stringy? You can't just used mashed potatoes, they need to have some solid bits in there. And also be sure not to let any large pieces of potato fall in. We only riced 2 of the very large potatoes to start out with, otherwise the final dough would have been too large to manage. And if you decide not to make the full recipe you'll just have leftover boiled potatoes that you can make potato salad or mashed potatoes with.
Here we are sprinkling all-purpose flour over the potatoes. Start with about a cup and a half of flour. Then add 1 egg. Remember to reserve the other egg for the second batch.
Then blend the flour, potato and egg together with your hand until it holds together. Add more flour if it's too wet. Or alternatively, more riced potato if it's too dry. It should start to form into it's own loaf-like shape.
Place your dough on a floured surface and lightly knead it until all the ingredients are incorporated. You'll have to tell by touch and by the look of the dough. Conn tried to resist the lure of the fresh boiled potatoes but eventually succumbed.
It's going to feel light and soft... sort of like the top of your hand between your thumb and index finger. It's not nearly as firm as a bread or pasta dough.
Then cut 3/4 inch slices off the dough and roll them out into a rope-like shape that's about 1/2 inch thick. It doesn't matter how long it is because you will then cut off little 1/2 inch pieces. It may help to have a small pile of flour near where you are flicking the pieces so they don't stick together or to your finger when you roll them.
Using a box grate, nail-punch side up, dip your thumb in flour and roll/flick the gnocchi by pressing into the grater and off toward the bottom. It helps to hold the grater at an angle. The gnocchi need to curl up as you can see in the pic. So getting the pressure just right is crucial. I let mom do this part. It would be good to have a cloth spread out on the counter with a fine sprinkling of flour on top to set the gnocchi as you finish rolling them.
Here's a close up of the finished gnocchi. They can sit out on the counter for up to a few hours. Then you can either prepare them or freeze them. To prepare them, drop them into a pot of well salted, boiling water. Stir them gently to make sure they don't stick to each other. When they start to bob up to the surface, they should be done. They'll be firm and tender. We ate them in a simple sauce of melted sage butter and lots of grated parmesan cheese. Notice, there are no pics of them prepared because they were gone in a flash. Seriously. They were extremely ono!
Update on mom and dad's doings... Here's Dad making the very steep trek from the coastal cliffs near the house. "Never again!" he vowed. Too steep for his 70 year old self.
Mom stayed at the top which is maybe why she doesn't look as flushed as Dad. It was a cloudy day but still gorgeous.
Had to post this pic I took on our jaunt to the Kula Lavender Farm. The orangey plant is a type of bromeliad i think.
More tufts of lavender.
Mom and Dad stop to take in the clear view of West Maui.