Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How to Make Gnocchi Like Two Un-Italian Cousins

You know when you get that itch to make gnocchi from scratch? No? Is it just me then?

Okay. So I felt the deep need to learn how to make gnocchi "like an Italian grandmother." You know, just in case I found myself in Italy with only two potatoes, one egg, one cup of flour, and several hungry grandchildren.

It could happen.

I sent the recipe to my also-aspiring-to-culinary-greatness cousin, Becky, and we set a date for mastering the little potato pillows of deliciousness.

And here is how we did it:

Step one: Boil two potatoes for approximately one hour. Discuss your life and times during this hour, and once you are both up to speed, make cookies!

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Witness the inherent cuteness that is Ella (how did I not get a single picture of her, Becky?), and oh look, the cookies are done! I guess we need to test them to make sure they aren't poisonous or anything. Hmm..... yeah, better have a second one to make sure.....oops and wait that one's broken....

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After about 4 cookies apiece, the potatoes were good and boiled, so we took to "deconstructing" them with our forks. The professional Italian Grandmas making this recipe are probably using potato ricers for this task, but forks worked just fine for us.

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We peeled the hot potatoes and scraped the fork down the sides until we had a big pile of potato fluff.

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And given that the recipe was in paragraph format (!), we consulted it diligently before moving on to each next step.

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Upon our consultation of said recipe, we determined that we needed to mound the potatoes into a heap. Given that Becky had such a lovely manicure (the benefits of recent wedding attendance), I delegated this task to her.

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The recipe also called for "1/4 cup egg, lightly beaten." Our scientific testing provided the following results for your benefit: one large egg = 1/4 cup egg.

Those chickens are precise, folks.

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And now comes the fun (read: messy!) part. Sprinkle about 3/4 cup of flour over your egged-up pile of potato shavings, and gently knead it into a dough. Once you've got a more doughy consistency, you can slice it up into portions and roll out little snakes of pasta. (Ella especially liked the part with the snakes. Reminiscient of Play-Doh, we figured -- which is also why Becky was so much better at rolling the snake-pasta than I was. Being a mother of a young child gives you ample Play-Doh experience.)

And then you mercilessly chop up your little potato snakes.

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Depending upon how hungry you are, you can decoratively notch each piece with the prongs of a fork, to catch the pasta sauce.

Apparently we decorated a whopping two of them before moving on to the faster method of quickly-smush-into-shape-and-toss-into-boiling-water.

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This was also the perfect opportunity to use up the last 12 or so tomatoes from my unusually prolific porch tomato crop. (I still have a few green ones, but we've had a cold snap lately, so I'm not confident they'll ripen.)

And despite my fears that our first attempt at gnocchi would be a terrific disaster, we sat down at the dinner table and took a bite....

And it was FANTASTIC! We totally rocked the gnocchi. It was light and fluffy but also filling. And its just potato, egg, and flour. Isn't that amazing?

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Food is so cool. (Also, thanks to Becky for letting me destroy your kitchen and coat your entire countertop with an inch of flour and leave you with a sink full of dirty dishes. You [and your cabinet full of Penzeys spices] are my hero.)

Next on our menu of new-things-to-try? Two words: Donut. Muffin. Yes and amen.

2 comments:

me said...

I totally had a blast with you!

I think the making-potato-and-flour-based-foods-from-scratch need is in the genes. Maybe sometime we'll make pierogi!:)

(Also, let the readers note: Heather washed the counters and half the dishes before she left... don't let her fool you:))

Erica said...

So, you know why I love you? I *also* get that itch to make gnocchi from scratch. Frequently. I had fabulous gnocchi a few months ago at a restaurant downtown that I've been dying to recreate. Gnocchi in a brown butter and sage sauce. It was so yummy.