Making gnocchi has been on my list of things to try making since Panama. Oddly Panama is where I learned about gnocchi. There is an Italian restaurant in Panama City called Rino's. Jeff and I found excuses to go to Rino's. It wasn't an amazing restaurant, but it had classy decor and reasonable prices. And they had carbonera sauce on the menu that you could pick your own pasta or gnocchi. It's the best comfort food: gnocchi a la carbonara.
Then I met Danielle, a volunteer for another NGO in our valley who was Italian, but her parents were Swiss bankers and she was living in the community west of ours almost in the Kuna Yala; a very interesting gal. She mentioned she had made gnocchi for her host mom. She said it wasn't hard. And I mentally filed away gnocchi as something I could try making myself.
A couple years passed and then this New Year's Sarah and I chose an Italian theme for our dinner party. Gnocchi was on the list of food to try. It got cut when we finalized the menu because we already had ravioli which kind of covers the time intensive pasta dish. I guess gnocchi isn't technically pasta. It generally gets defined as potato dumplings.
I still had gnocchi on my mind and yesterday I finally got around to trying my hand at it. I checked all my cookbooks for recipes. They all called for using potato ricers which I don't have - this is supposed to give you a dreamy light pillow of potato. So I turned to the internet. Man, there are a lot of sweet potato gnocchis out there! I finally found Smitten Kitchen's Gnocchi blog post and recipe. Deb lives in a tiny New York apartment and she doesn’t have all those extra kitchen gadgets either. Her recommendation was to grate the potatoes. So that's what I did.
Gnocchi is only three ingredients and is conceptually easy to make. It just takes a lot of time to bake the potatoes, then grate them and create the dough, knead then shape all those little dumplings. I started at 2:30 and we finally ate dinner at 7:00. I'm thinking it might be easier to bake the potatoes a head of time and then make the dough and form the gnocchi on another day so I don't feel like I spent the whole day on it.
Step 2: Peal the potatoes and then grate them using a coarse (large holes) grater. Make sure the potatoes are cooled so you don't burn yourself. Consider baking the potato a day ahead of time.
Step 3: Using a wooden spoon mix the egg and salt with the grated potato. When this is well mixed slowly add in the flour and keep mixing.
Step 4: On a floured countertop turn out the potato dough and knead like a yeast bread for about 5 minutes. Add flour as needed to keep the potato from sticking to the counter. Then divide the dough into eight balls. Use your hands to roll each dough ball into long skinny rope (about 1/2 inch in diameter). Cut the rope into 1 inch cylinders.
Step 5: Using the tines of a fork press the gnocchi to give it ridges. You may need to dip the fork in flour so it doesn't stick. Place the gnocchi on a cookie sheet in a single layer as you finish shaping them. You can cook them now or freeze them on the cookie sheet then move them to freezer storage container once they are frozen solid.
Step: 6: To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. When the pot has a nice rolling boil, drop the gnocchi in. The gnocchi will sink and then after a couple minutes float to the surface. The gnocchi is done one minute after it starts floating. Strain out the gnocchi and your ready to serve!