For me, potato gnocchi are a symbol of selfless love. My mother made the best gnocchi, but she did not eat them, not even one. After all that work she would just have a plate of spaghetti while we feasted on the heavenly dumplings.
There is something esoteric about making gnocchi. So many things can go wrong. They can turn out too tough, floury little pebbles, or too soft and fall apart in the water. My mother only ever made them in the summer with new potatoes. I know others that will only make them with old potatoes. Everyone has a theory about which potatoes are best, but basically you need your potatoes to be starchy and dry.
In Umbria, we believe that we should not drink water with gnocchi, because they become indigestible. Of course we honor to the tradition and stick to red wine.
In my experience, the secret to make perfect gnocchi is to make sure the potatoes are dry before mashing. You want to add just enough flour to obtain a dough. If the potatoes are too moist they will take too much flour resulting in the above mentioned pebbles.
I don’t make ridges on my gnocchi to “hold” the sauce as my gnocchi are very soft and light and require careful manipulation. I prefer to finish them in the sauce like I do with pasta, but I don’t stir them as much.
To make sure you have a good gnocchi dough, make 2 or 3 dumplings and cook them in a pan of boiling hot water. If they fall apart you definitely need to add more flour. Cook the test gnocchi for one minute. If they keep their shape, it’s safe to proceed making the rest of the gnocchi.
- 500 g/ 1 lb starchy potatoes (Yukon gold or other yellow potatoes)
- 1 egg
- 160 g (1 and 1/2 cup) plain flour (or gluten free flour mix)
Place the unpeeled potatoes in a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain, then transfer in a warm oven or to a griddle lined with foil for 5-10 or so to drive off all the moisture.
When still warm, peel the potatoes then mash them, preferably with a mouli or potato ricer. Stir in the eggs, transfer the mixture on your worktop and, using a pastry scraper, mix in about 1/2 of the flour. Knead lightly to obtain a smooth dough adding flour if it’s too sticky to handle. You might not need to use all the flour. The dough is ready when it’s firm enough to shape the gnocchi.
Roll the dough into cylinders about 2 cm ( 2/3 inch) in diameter. Cut each cylinder into 2 cm (2/3 inch) pieces. Test 2-3 gnocchi as explained above. Once you are happy with the test, proceed to make all the dumplings and place them on a well floured tray or pasta board, making sure they gnocchi do not touch.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt 100 g (3 oz) gorgonzola and 3 tablespoon heavy cream in a shallow pan which will hold all the gnocchi. Toast 1 tablespoon of finely chopped walnuts in a small dry pan and set aside.
Drop the gnocchi in the boiling water. As they cook, they’ll float to the surface. Let them cook them about 1/2 minute from the time they surface, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Transfer them in the pan that holds the hot sauce, stir lightly, add the walnuts and serve immediately with grated Parmigiano on the side.
Serves 2-3. For one person you need about 35 gnocchi (200 gr/ 7 oz) .