Nonnas worldwide cried out in unison while I attempted to make gnocchi from scratch. The biggest disappoint probably came from Anna Sartor whose recipe I tried to follow from the Little Italy Festival Town Cookbook.
I know I revealed my hand early here, but when I started this blog I promised to tell the truth of my misfortune. I never ever claimed to even be a sous-chef let alone an expert cook, but I thought I could handle gnocchi. No one warned me. No wise elder came to me to say…
The good news is that after I failed to make gnocchi I did find that there is a tool that will make your life easier and even though it’s not Christmas yet, my wise elder of a mom has gifted me my master sword for Christmas so I can conquer the gnocchi monster and save Zelda.
That magical item by the way is called a potato ricer and trust me, you do not want to skimp on that. You’re going to need it.
The other stuff you’ll need is
- 3 large potatoes (boiled with jackets on)
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of spaghetti sauce
- 2 tablespoons of grated cheese
Before we get into the nitty gritty, I need to defend my honor. This cookbook was written in a time where more people cooked on the regular and even my mother defended me and said that the ladies who wrote these recipes assumed people knew little details because at the time most people did know.
It’d be like if I told all of you how to boil pasta. Which, some people out there may not even know how to do that I realize. Which is partly why I make the joke to follow package instructions, but you never know what people know or don’t know.
The first step is to boil the potatoes before you peel them. This step is where I let myself down. There is no instruction of how long to boil and I did not use my critical thinking skills which I’m famous for at my day job.
I forgot that potatoes take awhile to soften and used the ole put a vegetable in a pot of water, turn the stove setting to high, and once boiling remove.
That is not enough time for potatoes my friends.
So what do you do? You boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they rise to the top of your pot. The chemistry of cooking is very important when making gnocchi so be sure to do the fork test to make sure 20 minutes was enough time.
If you don’t know what the fork test is, it’s just sticking a fork into the potato to make sure it’s tender, but don’t let the potato become mushy either.
Once the potato is done boiling, drain the water and allow them to cool and dry.
The next step is to peel the potatoes and them mash them in the potato ricer. As you do this it’s very important to keep an eye on how saturated the potatoes are. If they are too wet it can cause issues. Like I said earlier, chemistry is important when making gnocchi.
All of you already know I didn’t have the master sword when I made this, so what did I do? I peeled and diced the potatoes and then spent an hour trying to mash them with two wooden spatulas.
I do not recommend this method for making gnocchi, but I do recommend it as an alternative muscle building and toning exercise for your arms.
Hopefully you’re just breezing through with the potato ricer and are now ready to combine the flour with the potato. When these two ingredients are mixed, make a well for your egg and then beat the egg into the flour to eventually create your potato dough.
Use the kneading and rolling method to create a smooth voluminous dough ball.
We are now ready to pretend to be a kid again by making play-doh snakes. If you’ve never done that, all we are doing is taking a chunk of the dough and rolling it into a long, thin breadstick shape.
Once you have that shape, you then cut the dough into 1 inch pieces and make a little print on top with your fork.
By the way I didn’t get this far and was un-able to experience the joy of making potato snakes. My chemistry was bad and the potato was creating a glue like effect that made it near impossible to mix the dough. Nothing I tried could create the right consistency and I gave up.
This is why I’m harping on the whole chemistry thing. So please do pay attention if you want to succeed.
Once the gnocchi is created we can now boil. This is where you can use the whole put the stuff in the water, set to boil, and when it comes up to the top remove.
It looks like I did use some critical thinking, just not for the right item.
Once that happens, Anna then instructs you to serve like a casserole. This is not how I’ve eaten gnocchi but I could be misinterpreting her instructions. I’d just normally pour sauce on top and sprinkle some grated cheese. Which is what she says to do as well, but she also mentions layers which tells me this is being served more like lasagna.
I failed making the gnocchi so when I saw this casserole step I tried making my potato junk into a casserole. I did this by layering it up and then baking until the cheese on top melted a little. The end result is pictured below.
It didn’t turn out bad, but it wasn’t good either.
My mother and my LA/cooking BFF have already expressed interest in making this with me. Neither have made gnocchi before, but are up for the challenge. I’m surprised that my mother hasn’t. I think she left that task up to her older sister. Whoever becomes my champion will be featured in an update to this post. I will select retry and look forward to having some assistance. Stay tuned.