Gnocchi are Italian-style dumplings made with potatoes and flour. Sometimes Gnocchi are made with fresh ricotta cheese, but the classic Gnocchi are made with russet potatoes. In the past, I have been a little intimidated about making fresh gnocchi because I was always concerned about getting the right ratio of potatoes to flour. I have made several batches through the years and I have never been satisfied with my gnocchi until now.
I have done quite a bit of homework, but sometimes recipes are pretty vague because potatoes differ in starch content. If you use too much flour, the gnocchi turn out like little stones, instead of light and fluffy dumplings. If you use too little flour, the gnocchi fall apart in the water, when boiled and turn into a wet gummy mess. However, have no fear….this recipe is foolproof and quite simple.
I love the fresh taste of homemade gnocchi tossed in a quick brown butter sauce and it pairs nicely with fresh roasted fish or meat. This recipe makes enough to feed 6 people as a side dish or 4 for an entree size portion. For smaller families, you can boil half the batch of gnocchi and freeze the other half for later or double this recipe for a larger Italian themed dinner party. Sounds fun to me!
4 medium sized russet potatoes or 2 lbs, washed and peeled
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour + more for dusting
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced
(Serves 4 entree portions or 6 appetizer size)
1. Boil the potatoes until fork tender. Drain and let cool for 15 minutes. Using a ricer or food mill, pass the potatoes through to create a mound of light and airy potatoes.
2. Add the beaten egg, 1 1/4 cups flour and 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese to the potatoes.
3. Using your hands, bring the dough together into a ball. Don’t over work the dough, you don’t want tough gnocchi.
4. Section the dough into 6-8 pieces and lightly dust the counter with flour. Roll each piece into a long rope, about 16 inches.
5. Cut the rope of gnocchi into 1-inch size pieces and roll over a gnocchi board for grooves or the tines of a fork. You can skip this step if you want, but the sauce adheres to the gnocchi better with grooves.
6. Place the gnocchi on a lightly floured sheetpan and put them in the freezer while you roll out and cut the rest of the dough. You may need to use two sheetpans because you don’t want the gnocchi to stick to each other.
7. Fill a large pot with water and place over high heat until boiling. Add a tablespoon of salt to the water. In another large skillet, add the butter and place over medium heat. Boil the gnocchi until they float to the top of the pan.
8. When the butter is slightly brown, add the cooked gnocchi using a handled strainer or slotted spoon. Toss gently in the brown butter.
9. Add the 1/3 cup parmesan cheese and toss again.
10. Sprinkle the gnocchi with the fresh basil leaves and serve family-style or on small plates. Enjoy!