Even though I love all carbs and try not to discriminate, there’s always been a special place in my heart for potato gnocchi. Those soft, pillowy pellets of perfection frequently call to me from restaurant menus and even from supermarket shelves. Sadly, there are precious few places where the gnocchi is as good as it should be–in other words, tender but not mushy, firm but not rubbery, and mild in flavor but not bland (it should highlight whatever sauce is being used, not simply be a transport mechanism).
So what’s a girl to do when she’s craving gnocchi but underwhelming, overpriced versions just won’t do? That’s right, children–she makes some her damn self. Hear me roar and all that. I chose a recipe (from Tyler Florence’s playbook) that had the word “perfect” in the title, so I figured it would be pretty hard to screw up. Indeed, making gnocchi was a lot easier than I expected, but it was also more time consuming. Next time, I’ll prep the dumplings when I have a block of spare time and then freeze them for later consumption. In addition, next time I’ll make my own sauce instead of using canned (though it was, to be fair, a very respectable vodka sauce).
Pierce the potatoes several times so that moisture can escape during baking. Bake the potatoes in a preheated 400 degree oven for 1 hour until fork tender. Peel the potatoes while they are still hot and press them through a potato ricer. Put the potatoes in a large bowl with salt, baking powder, and egg white. Add the flour a little at a time and mix with your hands until the mixture forms a rough dough. Do not over-work the dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Gently knead the dough for 1 or 2 minutes until smooth, adding a little bit more flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking.
Break off a piece of the dough and roll it back and forth into a rope, about the thickness of your index finger. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces. Gently roll each piece down a wooden gnocchi board (note: I used a cutting board, as I have no idea what a gnocchi board is) while pressing a small dimple with your finger (note: I used a fork). The gnocchi should be slightly curved and marked with ridges. This will allow the pillows to hold sauce when served.
Boil the gnocchi in batches in plenty of salted water. The gnocchi are done about 2 minutes after they float to the surface (about 4 minutes total). Remove with a slotted spoon, and serve. If not cooking immediately, place the gnocchi in a single layer on a baking pan dusted with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
Note: Tyler says that if the gnocchi start to feather and fall apart in boiling water, you need more flour. If the gnocchi don’t float after 2 minutes and are hard, you used too much flour. Based on this formula, I could have used more flour–but that’s an easy enough problem to fix, no?