You have to be patient.
Making gnocchi takes practice and persistance. At their best potato gnocchi can be delicate. At their worst, they turn ot dense, rubbery, or soggy. In the worst case scenario, the gnocchi fall apart in the boiling water before even meeting their condiment. I'm not trying to scare you off from making them, I just want you to know what you're in for. The trick is using a small quantity of egg to hold the potato/flour mixture together.
1 kg (2.2 lbs) russet potatoes
300 gr (1 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Boil the unpeeled potatoes 30-40 minutes (according to potato size) in lightly salted water, resisting the temptation to pierce them with a fork, this floods the potato structure with boiling water, thus damaging the dough.
Let the potatoes cool a bit then peel and mash them with a hand-powered mill or a ricer, straight into a bowl.
Once completely cool, mix them with the egg yolks and olive oil. Now sift the flour over the potatoes and mix it in with a wooden spoon. Do this with gentle movements, only until the flour is moist and the dough looks crumbly.
Pour the potato/flour mixture over a board dusted with flour and knead briefly as you would any other pasta dough.
Note: Over-kneading may make the dough tougher, so keep it to a minimum to obtain a uniform consistency, considering you'll be also dusting extra flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface.
Cut a fist-size piece and roll it into sausage-like cords about 3/4" in diameter and use a knife to cut each into 3/4" buttons. Use your thumb to make an indentation in each piece. This can be achieved with the help of the back of a cheese grater or the tines of a fork, and it gives gnocchi a rough surface in which the sauce finds refuge. As you produce the gnocchi, moves them on a plate and keep going, fistful after fistful, until all the dough is used up.
|Image © Foodnuveau.com|
Technically all this can be done in advance, but it is better not to let too much time pass between the making and the cooking. While you're cutting the gnocchi, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Once all the gnocchi are ready, toss a dozen of them into the water and wait until they all surface. This takes less than 2 minutes, so it is important that your attention does not wander. Use a skimmer (or a slotted spoon) to fish the floating gnocchi out of the pot and place them in a bowl covered with a tight lid or plastic wrap, so the gnocchi keep warm. Repeat the casting-fishing routine until all gnocchi are cooked.
For a splendid gnocchi tutorial, complete with extra information and a useful video, visit Foodnouveau – Merci, Marie!