For Christmas, I was given a fabulous cookbook, Culinaria European Specialties. The book is beautifully illustrated, rich with regional history, and fantastic recipes. I was so excited to to dive into this book and try something, it was difficult to narrow down the choices. Finally, after reading it twice--like a great novel--one recipe kept jumping out at me...Gnocchi, little dumplings. I've heard of it. I've been told about it. Friends have gushed over the sublime texture and subtle flavor. I've also heard that it's difficult to make. I've never had it...until now. I couldn't wait to jump right in and tackle this elusive pasta. Now, typically, pasta ranks about 4th on my list of starches. Potatoes and bread vie for first place followed by rice and then pasta. So, pasta made of potatoes--I was all over it.
Not knowing how the finished product was supposed to turn out, I relied heavily on the descriptive narratives of my friends: light, "fluffy", won't stick to your mouth. Okay...where do I go with THAT? Only one answer...onward. I served mine with a sage butter and parmesian cheese, but that seemed a little light for the pasta. Next time, a tomato based sauce.
Gnocchi di Patate
3 lbs mealy potatoes (I used Russets)
2 1/2 cups flour
Boil the potatoes in their skins until soft. Drain, leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and mash (I used a food mill with a medium sized disc). Mix in the eggs and salt and then add the flour and knead int a dough.
Divide the potato mixture into 10 equally-sized portions and roll each portio into long strings as wide as your thumb. Cut up the dough string into pieces of about 1" in length and dust with flour. Using the back of a fork, pattern the pieces with the typical ribbed gnocchi design.
Cook the gnocchi in moderately sized portions in boiling salted water. They are done when they rise to the surface. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and drain well. Serve with sage butter or a tomato or meat sauce.
Tip: The amount of flour needed depends on the kind of potato used. New potatoes are unsuitable for gnocchi, as they absorb far more flour than older varieties.