I love gnocchi so much that I bought myself a gnocchi paddle for Christmas. What’s funny about that is that I never even tasted it until maybe 3 years ago. I had been intrigued by it for a while but finally, bought some at the grocery store to try. I was hooked. Since then, I have taught myself to make my own. This homemade gnocchi recipe is my favorite.
There are many ideas on how to make the “perfect” potato gnocchi, but in reality, 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 using the method described below helps alleviate this problem. And yes, ricing them is important. Hand-mashing tends not to get them smooth enough. Using a mixer results in a puree that is lacking in enough body.
Pro Tip: you can freeze some of the gnocchi for future use. I like to lay it on a tray or some other flat surface and freeze it until it’s solid enough to place into freezer bags.
HOMEMADE GNOCCHI RECIPE
2 pounds russet or other starchy potatoes
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1½ cups flour
Pinch nutmeg (optional)
Coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 425˚
Pierce each potato all over with a fork and place on a baking tray covered with a thin layer of coarse salt. This 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.
Evenly distribute the riced potato flesh onto a clean work surface and drizzle with the egg yolk. Add nutmeg to the mixture, if desired. (Note: whether I add it or not depends on how I will ultimately be serving the gnocchi. With the nutmeg in it, it’s lovely tossed with brown butter and sage.)
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.
PRO TIP: 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. I find the best tool for cutting it neatly and evenly to be a dough scraper.
To get the classic gnocchi ridge marks, gently roll each small piece across the tines of a fork while pressing gently with your thumb. Or you can be extra like me and get yourself a gnocchi paddle.
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.
OR you can cook them in a frying pan. This produces a crispy exterior while still having a soft center. I like the added flavor of sauteing them in butter but you can use olive oil instead.
Serving suggestions: tossed in your favorite tomato sauce, garlic butter, brown butter and sage, or fresh basil pesto. I also like them tossed in melted butter with a squeeze of lemon juice over top. Add some cracked black pepper and Parmesan. YUM!
Looking for a delicious variation on this classic recipe? Try this gnudi (ricotta gnocchi) recipe. It’s a tasty twist on the usual potato based dough.