Week 37: It's Still Winter, My Valentine
On Groundhog Day 2020 Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, indicating there will be an early spring coming our way. Although we have been having a mild winter, don’t hang your hat on the world’s most famous groundhog. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), he’s only been right 40% of the time between 2010 and 2019.
Whether we are truly getting an early spring or 6 more weeks of winter, the holiday of LOVE is drawing near. Technically a celebration of romantic love, we are going to branch out and embrace all love this Friday. This can be with your partner, children, family and/or friends. And there is no better way to enjoy loads of love with those you love than a good old fashioned gnocchi making party!!
Gnocchi is a dumpling found all over Italy in many diverse forms, and made with a variety of ingredients depending on the recipe origins: flour, semolina, ricotta, or vegetables – from pumpkin to spinach to the classic potato. This blog is going to focus on the classic potato gnocchi, but if you really want to embrace the Valentine’s Day spirit check out this vibrant red beet gnocchi recipe (https://www.ricardocuisine.com/en/recipes/7686-beet-gnocchi).
2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (Russet also work here), scrubbed clean
2 cups of flour (1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour + 2/3 cup cake flour OR 2 cups 00 milled flour)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Pierce your potatoes several times with a fork and bake them until cooked through. Optional: Bake on a bed of course salt to draw out excess moisture.
Peel potatoes while still warm but cool enough to handle.
Cut potatoes in half and rice the potatoes with a fine potato ricer (critical piece of equipment for fluffy gnocchi, ~$20 on Amazon) into a large bowl. Note: Avoid mashers and food mills which compress the potatoes. You want to have tiny crumbles that will release more moisture and produce extra-light gnocchi.
Let potatoes cool until almost at room temperature, at least 20 minutes. Then weigh your riced potatoes. You will need 1 cup of flour for every pound of riced potatoes. Ideally, use 00 milled flour OR the 2/3 all-purpose flour and 1/3 cake flour ratio blend. You can also do 100% all-purpose flour too. Wheat flour will work here but will give you a chewier, protein dense gnocchi.
5. In a small bowl, mix riced potatoes, salt and egg. Mix gently but well to avoid compressing the potatoes. Add the flour. Mix gently until the flour is moistened and the dough starts to clump together. The dough will be a bit clumpy and tacky.
6. Lightly flour your work surface and gather the dough together into a uniform mass. Mix/knead very gently until the flour is incorporated and the dough is soft, smooth, and a sticky, 30 seconds to 1 minute. DO NOT OVER MIX OR THE GNOCCHI WILL BE TOUGH. The dough should feel very delicate. Set dough ball aside.
7. Lightly re-flour your work surface. Tear off a piece of dough about the size of a lemon and roll the dough into a rope about ¾” in diameter. With a sharp knife, cut the rope every ¾” to make roughly even sized gnocchi.
8. Arrange the gnocchi on a single layered, floured baking sheet and repeat process until dough is gone. Do not refrigerate fresh gnocchi for more than two hours as they will become soggy.Note: Traditional gnocchi are pressed/rolled on a fork or gnocchi board to give the ribs in the pasta. This step can be skipped and gnocchi kept as pillow shape.
9. Options: (1) Boil fresh or frozen gnocchi in small batches in salted, boiling water until they float. About 2 minutes. (2) Saute gnocchi in butter until golden browned on each side. About 2-4 minutes. (3) Freeze gnocchi in a single layer on baking sheets. Once frozen, put them in a container and cook when desired.
10. Serve with your favorite sauce, pesto or herbs.
Notes: Recipe adapted from multiple sources including Fine Cooking Issue 90 (https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/potato-gnocchi) and Food and Wine (https://www.foodandwine.com/pasta-noodles/six-steps-to-reaching-gnocchi-nirvana)