Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.
How It All Began
A few weeks ago, my husband retired after 45 years of public service. Time to celebrate, and to him, that can only mean one thing—road trip!
So we packed our bags and drove down the Pacific Coast. Our first destination was Anaheim, home to Disneyland (aka the Happiest Place on Earth).
I'm not sure about the HPOE designation—after 4 nights and 3 days in the Magic Kingdom, I had heard and witnessed more fights, tantrums, and absolute meltdowns than a year's worth of preschool playground supervision (and I'm talking about the parents).
However, there is one place where I found, for one hour, absolute bliss. On our first evening my husband, daughter, and I dined at the Naples Ristorante in Downtown Disney. And I ate their potato gnocchi.
For many years, I have loved potato gnocchi. I've made potato gnocchi. And I thought I really understood potato gnocchi. I was wrong. Naples Ristorante creates a gnocchi that can only be described as "pillowy." It was amazingly cloud-soft and luxuriant. And since that meal, I have been on a quest to find the ultimate potato gnocchi recipe.
I believe that I have now accomplished my mission.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 30 min
2 hours 30 min
Equipment and Supplies You Will Need
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- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Potato ricer
- Rimmed cookie sheet
- Bench scraper (not mandatory but very helpful)
- Large stock pot
- small saucepan
- 1 lb. russet potatoes (about 3 medium)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Wrap each potato in aluminum foil. Place in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 1 hour or until soft. (Test by inserting a sharp knife into the center of the potato. If the knife slides in easily, the potato is done).
- Remove the potatoes from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Cut each potato in half; while still hot push the potatoes through the ricer onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Discard the potato skins.
- Spread the riced potato out on the cookie sheet to cool slightly (about 20 minutes).
- Sprinkle 1 cup of the flour, the salt, and the nutmeg on the potatoes. Use the bench scraper (or your hands) to gently lift up one side of the potatoes and fold it into the middle of the mound. Continue to work around the mound of riced potatoes, moving the outer edge to the inside. In doing so you will be slowly working the potatoes into the flour and the flour into the potatoes.
- Once it seems that all of the flour has been absorbed, begin kneading the resulting dough with your hands until it feels smooth—about 2 or 3 minutes. You should not need any flour on your work surface, but if the dough seems a bit sticky, use the remaining 1/4 cup flour.
- Pat the dough into a circle and allow to rest for a few minutes.
- While waiting, fill the stock pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Place the 4 tablespoons of butter in the saucepan and melt over low heat.
- Use your bench scraper to cut the dough into 8 equal wedges. Roll each wedge into a long rope about 1/2 inch in diameter.Use the bench scraper to cut the rope into 1-inch long segments. Place about one dozen of the segments into the boiling water. When almost done they will rise to the surface. Cook for one minute more and then remove with the skimmer or a slotted spoon to a serving dish. Drizzle with a bit of the melted butter.
- Form the remaining wedges of dough into ropes, cut those into segments, and cook about 12 pieces at a time. Drizzle each batch of gnocchi with a bit of the melted butter.
- Serve the gnocchi with your favorite red sauce, or simply sprinkle with fresh herbs and grated cheese.
A New (and Improved) Method of Shaping the Gnocchi
Since writing this article, I have discovered a new method of forming gnocchi. It's much faster than the pat, roll, and cut method described above.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat.
- Lightly spray the inside of a pastry bag with non-stick cooking spray (such as Pam). Do not place a decorating tip in the pastry bag—use just the bag and coupler.
- Spoon your potato gnocchi "dough" into the pastry bag.
- With one hand gently squeeze the bag to gradually force the potato dough to the tip of the bag. With your other hand cut off the dough with a sharp knife. Continue to squeeze and cut, allowing the dough to drop into your pot of water.
- Using this method you can form and cook your gnocchi very quickly and without added flour. However, you should still limit the amount of gnocchi in the boiling water to about 12 at a time. Too many crowded in the pot will stick together and will lower the temperature of the water.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
- 36 oz. (4 ½ cups) chicken broth
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced basil
- 2 whole bay leaves
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Heat a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth to the tomato paste and stir until well blended.
- Add the remaining ingredients.
- Cover and cook over low heat for 2 hours.
- Remove the bay leaves before serving.
© 2014 Linda Lum