There are several keys to fantastic gnocchi but there is one tip that’s more important than any other: use too much water – when you boil the potatoes and again when you boil the gnocchi. By too much I actually mean to use a ridiculous amount of water.
Most of is will recall times when we tried to fry something and the oil wasn’t hot enough. Instead of achieving a crispy outer layer that’s complimented a moist interior we end up with a soggy, oil-infused, greasy imitation of what we were trying to make. Boiling potatoes (or any vegetable) requires much more water than people often use. The reason for this is simple – the more water you add, the hotter it stays when you add your room temperature potatoes into it. This means the potatoes cook in a shorter amount of time and will produce a better final product.
Don’t be intimidated by the amount of instructions; they’re really detailed and should be simple to follow – and the results are worth it!
- 2 pounds (of starchy) potatoes after peeling (we used Yukon Gold’s which are generally seen as medium-startchy). This is about 4 large potatoes.
- 2 cups of flour plus extra for rolling.
- 1 room temperature egg
- Butter (a tablespoon or less)
- Olive Oil (A tablespoon or less)
- Chopped Garlic
- Chopped Leeks
- A splash of vinegar (cider or ume boshi is awesome but any flavored vinegar is prefered)
- 0.5-1 whole lemon
- Lots of green stuff, especially bitter or savory. This could be one of:
- A bunch of herbs (oregano and basil as a combo would be good).
- Pesto (We used a Dandelion Green Pesto from our farmers market).
- Herbes Salées (if you’ve never made it, you must next summer).
- You could also add arugula instead – but add it just as you plate your dinner.
- Start by boiling too much water.
- Peel and weigh potatoes. Leave whole.
- Place potatoes in the boiling water with a lid on them.
- Once potatoes are finished cooking (test with a fork but be patient, they’ll take some time).
- Pour potatoes through a fine sieve. Let them cool in the sieve so that all possible water drains. Letting them cool is a key.
- Once the taters are cool, start a new large pot of water boiling. Once again, use too much water.
- Place potatoes and all those little pieces of potato ‘bit’ that the sieve captured into a bowl. These are full of starch.
- If you have a potato ricer, process the room temperature potato with it. If you’re like us, just mash them with a potato masher. Salt potatoes at this time.
- Lightly beat the egg so it’s a consistent color.
- Add the egg to the potato and give it all a good mixin’.
- Add the flour, a bit at a time to make the dough. Add a bit, mix, add a bit, mix and repeat until done. You should have a lovely elastic dough.
- Place a bit of extra flour on a large cutting board. Use this flour any time your hands stick to your dough or it gets stuck to anything. Little layers of flour will prevent sticking.
- Roll small balls of flour into tubes – about the width of a large finger (but not a thumb) and as long as is practical for you to hole (about twice the length of a finger).
- As you finish each roll, cut into chunks.
- The next part is optional. It’s how I make the chunks look less chunky. Simply take an oversized bowl (as big as possible but you’ll need to lift it with one hand). Toss some flour in it (not a lot is needed). Use one hand to place gnocchi in the blow (one at a time) while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other. You can leave the other gnocchi in the bowl as you proceed, emptying the bowl once before finishing the entire batch (otherwise the weight of the gnocchi will crush others). Keep adding flour as needed.
- The tough stuff is done!
- When your water hits a full boil, melt butter and olive oil on medium-high (a heavy pan such as a cast-iron skillet is perfect). Don’t let it smoke and if it starts to, simply remove from heat.
- The gnocchi will float when it’s finished cooking (it’s very quick) – drain it well.
- Add leeks and garlic to the oil/butter. Stir for 15-20 seconds.
- Drop the gnocchi into the oil, keeping the heat high. Stir periodically to distribute the butter and oil. Add your green stuff, continue to stir and cook for a few more minutes (don’t worry about overcooking it as long as you aren’t burning anything – heat will slightly crisp the outet layer of your gnocchi at worse).
- Squeeze fresh lemon to taste right before serving. Don’t miss this step, it really takes the entire dish to new heights.
You could serve this as is or on a bed of bitter greens including arugala, dandelion or even slices of kale. I also like to top it with a bit of parmesean that’s been finely grated with a rasp.