Although there are many opinions floating around about how to make the “perfect”
potato gnocchi, there is no one right way to do it. For example, in some parts of
northern Italy, egg is not used at all. In others, it is a key ingredient that adds
additional flavor and helps bind the dough together. It really comes down to
personal preference and skill level.
Many gnocchi recipes call for boiling the potatoes before ricing them. This, however,
increases the amount of flour needed to offset the added moisture – and too much
flour can lead to dense, chewy dumplings. Roasting the potatoes on a bed of coarse
salt in a hot oven helps alleviate this problem.
- 2 pounds russet or other starchy potatoes
- 1 egg yolk slightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- pinch nutmeg optional
- coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 425˚
Pierce each potato all over with a fork and place on baking tray covered with a thin layer of coarse salt. The coarse layer of salt should form a bed for the potatoes while they are baking.
Bake in pre-heated oven until tender, approximately 1 hour.
Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool slightly. When they are just cool enough to handle, cut each potato in half and scrape the still hot flesh out with a spoon. Quickly transfer the hot potato flesh into a ricer or food mill.
Evenly distribute the riced potato flesh onto a clean work surface and drizzle with the egg yolk. Add nutmeg to the mixture, if desired.
Next, sprinkle one cup of flour evenly across the potato egg mixture and starting working into a ball. Add remaining flour and continue folding and kneading just until it reaches a consistency similar to pizza dough. The total amount of flour needed will depend on how much moisture are in the potatoes.
Note: The goal is to work the dough until the key ingredients are evenly distributed throughout. Do not overwork or add too much flour as this will make the dumplings tough and chewy.
Break the dough into small portions and roll each portion into long ½” ropes with the palms of your hands. Then cut each rope into ½” pieces along its length.
To get the classic gnocchi ridge marks, gently roll each small piece across the tines of a fork while pressing gently with your thumb.
To cook, drop pieces into salty rapidly boiling water. As soon as they float to the top, remove them with a slotted spoon and drop into a cold-water bath to stop them from cooking further.
Serve topped with your favorite tomato sauce, garlic butter or fresh basil pesto.