Good morning everyone,
This evening, we’re going to have some gnocchi with asparagus and a little butter sauce. I used to be afraid of gnocchi, like I am afraid of pierogi and making my own phyllo. Not any more. There are tricks to making the gnocchi light and airy rather than dense and starchy and those tricks begin with the type of potato you choose. Russet. You want russet. A nice dry potato for baking.
That’s right – baking not boiling. I know, right?
3 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed well
2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax seed & 6 tablespoons warm water)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided plus more for dusting
Preheat the oven to 450F. Scrub the potatoes, poke small holes in them and bake them for 35-45 minutes or until very tender and cooked through. Prepare the flax eggs and let the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes.
As soon as the potatoes are baked, remove them from the oven and cut them in half lengthwise (use a baking mitt to protect your hand). Leave them cut side up on a baking sheet until cool enough to handle.
In the meantime, clean and dry a large work surface. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop the inside of the potatoes into a potato ricer (you can mash them but make sure that there are no lumps of potato remaining and fluff well with a fork until most of the steam has escaped). Rice all of the potatoes onto your work surface and allow the steam to escape and the potato to cool for a few minutes.
Sprinkle the flax egg evenly over the riced potatoes. Using a sieve, spread 1/2 cup of the flour all over the riced potatoes. Use a pastry cutter or fork to gently work the flour into the potatoes. Form the potato mixture into a loose ball and flatten with your hands (do not knead the dough). Fold it in half and press down again. Dust the remaining flour over your dough and fold and press again, repeating this process until a consistent dough forms.
Sprinkle your work surface with fresh flour. Cut about 1/4 of the dough and work that into a 1/2″ roll, gently working the dough with your palms. Cut the roll into gnocchi. You can leave the gnocchi this way or use a fork or rigagnocchi to form ridges in the dough by gently pressing and rolling the gnocchi. Sprinkle some flour over the gnocchi to prevent sticking. Repeat until all of the dough is turned into gnocchi.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Gently drop the gnocchi into the pot, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Allow them to cook until they come to the surface and then for another 20 – 25 seconds. Carefully remove them to a bowl, add whatever sauce you are serving with them, and serve immediately!
Freezing gnocchi (not ideal but you can do it!)- if you have a large freezer area, you can freeze the gnocchi easily by first parboiling them. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Gently drop in the gnocchi and allow them to cook for about 30 seconds. Carefully scoop the gnocchi out of the water with a slotted spoon. Spread them out on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Place the pan in the freezer for about an hour. Transfer the gnocchi to a freezer bag or container with as much air as possible removed. They will freeze well for about 3 months.
You can make gnocchi without the flax egg as well but this takes a lot of practice with forming the right texture of dough so that it does not fall apart in the water when boiled.