A while back it was requested that I do a step by step process on how to make gnocchi. Made some this past weekend and I got a few pictures. So here goes.
I don't really have a recipe and neither did the Italian nona that told me how to make them. She just described the general gist of it and then I practiced and also took in tips from other sources over the years but here goes.
DO NOT boil or steam the potatoes, not even in their jackets. Boiling/steaming adds water, which makes you need to add more flour, which leads to lead sinkers. Microwave or preferably bake the potatoes until done. You can even bake them on a salt bed to draw more moisture out. Use a starchy potato. The last batch was made with 1 very large baking potato since it was an experiment, besides the fact that I didn't want to make a lot anyway. It was a perfect amount for a good sized appy portion for 2. (this tutorial was written at a different time, last batch I actually made, which is when the pictures were taken, was from 2 large potatoes)
Peel and rice the potato(es) while still nice and warm but not so hot you can't handle. Don't let them cool to room temp or put in fridge. They will get gummy. Add salt generously. White or black pepper too if you want, even a pinch of nutmeg. Toss (use hands) with the riced potatoes.
Most recipes call for whole eggs at this point. What I've discovered is that using mostly egg white, with just a little yolk mixed in seems to make them lighter. So, with just the 1 large egg for the 1 potato the other night, I broke egg into a small bowl, whipped the egg white w/o breaking the yolk until the white was well broken up, then barely broke the yolk and mixed about half of it in. Poured egg (minus the rest of the yolk) in with the riced potatoes and gently mixed.
You can use cake flour. Cake flour won't form gluten (which leads to toughness) like regular flour will. I have been using regular flour though lately because I keep forgetting to buy cake flour. Just lighten it by scooping up and letting fall back down or putting it thru a sifter or wire strainer. Started with about 1/3 cup and gently mixed (adding a bit of flour as needed) until I got a fairly soft, very slightly sticky, smooth dough, then kneaded a couple of times on a lightly floured board. DO NOT overwork the mix, handle it as gently as possible. In the picture below, you can see the outside of the dough is smooth but the inside is soft and rough.
Pinch off a good amount (I did about thirds with the large baker) and roll on a lightly floured board into a log about an inch thick. Cut off about inch long pieces.
You can either leave the pieces as is or roll them on a gnocchi board or off the back of a fork to make a little indention on the opposite side and riged marks on the other. Rolling them off the fork (or using a gnocchi board) gives more surface area to cook faster plus more area for sauce to cling.
As you can see, the forked gnocchi have wider and deeper spaced grooves, while the gnocchi boarded ones are a bit finer but they both still curve slightly and have an indention on the bottom side from your finger.
Place the gnocchi into medium boiling, heavily salted water. Don't crowd the pan, think single layer. I let about half of them float and then start scooping into a colander to drain. Don't let them sit in the water and cook after floating, they will absorb water and become heavy. Sometimes you have to gently swirl the water with a spoon if they are being stubborn about floating after 2-3 minutes. I usually give the colander a bit of a shake to make sure all the water is off after I drop in each batch. Cook gnocchi in batches until all are done then proceed on with the recipe.
It took me several tries when I first started making these before I managed not to make lead sinkers or close to them. You'll want to add more flour. DON'T. You need to get a feel for the dough so that you don't have gnocchi that come apart when boiled or lead sinkers. Start small and get a feel for the dough. 1 potato and some flour won't break the bank in money or your time if it flops. You can always pinch a piece off, shape it and cook it to see if it will fall apart as you are adding in flour while you are learning.
Ways to use, and there are many, many more than this list.
Place in a buttered oven safe dish, top with a red sauce, bake for 10-15 minutes to warm thru, top with cheese, return to oven to melt/slightly brown cheese.
Gnocchi with sage butter. While you are making the dough, place about 3/4 stick unsalted butter in a sauté pan with some sage leaves, torn in large pieces or left whole if small leaves, and let gently simmer on low for a couple of minutes, then pull off heat to infuse the butter. Add S and P. When you are ready to finish the dish, remove the sage pieces from the butter (they'll get burned and nasty if you don't) and turn heat to just over medium. Add in gnocchi and saute to get them to just a light golden brown on each side. When you turn them over make a little spot and throw in some sage leaves that have been chiffonaded. When both sides are brown, remove gnocchi to serving dishes and drizzle some of the browned butter (be careful and watch so it doesn't burn and become blackened butter) and some of the freshly sautéed sage leaves. Top with parm cheese if desired. We tried them with and w/o parm. They were good w/o, but parm added a whole nother taste level so go with your tastes.
I've been thinking about doing an alla vodka sauce with pancetta with gnocchi instead of pasta but haven't done it yet. On my to do list.
We tried these recipes for dinner recently and Oh my goodness, that pan sauce is lick up off the plate good.
BASIC SHELLFISH PAN SAUCE â€” Chef John Besh
GNOCCHI WITH JUMBO LUMP CRABMEAT AND TRUFFLE â€” Chef John Besh
This is what dinner looked like.