November 22, 2009
What you want is a minimal amount of flour, too much and the gnocchi will be too dense. The trick, we've learned, is to use older potatoes, and to bake them, not boil or steam them, so that they get pretty dried out. Also it helps to put them through a potato ricer for a smoother consistency.
2lbs/2 large brown skin baking potato
2 beaten organic egg yolks
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons chestnut paste
2 pinches of salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spear the potatoes with a fork in several places around the potato to vent moisture as the potatoes cook. Bake the potatoes in their skins until tender, about an hour. Let them cool slightly on a rack, cutting them open to help cool and let more moisture escape. Scoop out the potatos from their skins. Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer and into a large bowl. (If you don't have a potato rice you can mash the potatoes by hand and fluff them up a bit with a fork.) It is best to work with the potatoes when they are still warm.
Add the 1 1/4 (you may need a little more, but start with this) cup of the flour, eggs, chestnut paste and a pinch of salt. Mix by hand until you have a nice pliable ball of dough, add more of the flour as necessary. Do not overmix.
Prepare a work area and dust it with a little of the remaining flour. Take the dough, a piece at a time, and roll it out gently with your hands until you have rolls about 3/4 inch in diameter. It is very important to keep a light touch while you are rolling the dough. Gently roll the dough with your fingertips while while exerting the lightest pressure outwards, not down, to draw the dough out.
Cut the tubes of dough into pieces about one inch long. Using either the tines of a fork or your fingertip, press against a piece of the dough and roll it slightly to form an indentation (good for catching the sauce). As the gnocchi are made, place them on flat baking pan, lightly dusted with flour or lined with wax paper. At this point you can freeze the gnocchi ahead of time. Freeze them first on a floured or lined tray, then once frozen you can put them into a freezer bag for more easy storage. To cook, just put the frozen gnocchi into the simmering water for the next step.
Bring at least 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in a shallow saucepan. Gently drop the gnocchi, a few at a time, into the water. As soon as they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon, and place into ice water to fully cool. remove from ice water when they are fully cooled and drain well. these will be cooked in a hot pan just before serving.
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