Homemade Gnocchi

Long before I started this blog, I was obsessed with cooking shows. I watched them all the time, and was always eager to try the recipes and techniques I saw demonstrated. Of course, I had no kitchen skills at the time, so there were quite a few recipe flops and disasters. Homemade gnocchi was actually one of the first things I tried to make from scratch and to say it was an epic fail would be putting it nicely :) It looked SO easy on tv, but in practice, not so much. That was over 4 years ago, and I thought it might be time to finally tackle gnocchi again. I don’t remember which recipe I used the first time, and there are a ton of them out there, but I turned to this one I flagged in an issue of Cook’s Illustrated at the end of last year. Their recipes rarely disappoint me so I figured this would give me the best chance of succeeding.

Homemade Gnocchi

And what do you know, it worked! If you’ve never had gnocchi, they are little dumplings made from just a few ingredients – here it’s potatoes, flour, salt and an egg. The egg isn’t traditional, but I think it helps bind the dough together, making it easier to work with, and also tenderizes the gnocchi. These are light, delicate gnocchi with lots of potato flavor, and served with a brown butter sauce they are such a special treat. I think they’d be great with pesto too, or even a red sauce. You really can’t go wrong!

I’ve made this recipe twice without any issues, so I’m pretty confident it wasn’t a fluke :) Today I’m excited to share it with you, along with more photos than I typically include in my post, just in case you want to try it. If you do, I highly recommend using a scale to weigh the potatoes and flour rather than going with the volume measurements. That one step goes a long way to ensuring success I think. Also, don’t get too frustrated if you struggle with the shaping. It takes some practice to get the hang of it, and at the end of the day, regardless of how your gnocchi look, they’re all going to taste the same :)

Homemade Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage
from Cook’s Illustrated, September/October 2011

Gnocchi
2 lb russet potatoes (about 4 medium)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 oz) all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon salt

Sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Homemade Gnocchi

Start with 2 pounds of russet potatoes. Poke each of them 8 times with the tip of a paring knife. Microwave until the ends of the potatoes have slightly softened (flipping the potatoes halfway through) – it’ll take about 10 minutes total, though all microwaves are different, so yours might take slightly more or less time. Transfer the potatoes to the oven (place them directly on the rack) and bake until a skewer glides easily in and out of the flesh, about another 18-20 minutes.

Homemade Gnocchi

Remove the potatoes from the oven and immediately start peeling them with a paring knife. They’ll be hot (obviously) so hold them with a potholder or kitchen towel. Transfer the peeled potatoes to a potato ricer (or food mill). If you don’t have a ricer or food mill, I’ve read that mashing by hand will work, but haven’t tried it myself to confirm.

Homemade Gnocchi

Process the potatoes through the ricer (or food mill) onto a rimmed baking sheet. (I lined mine with parchment for easier cleanup.)

Homemade Gnocchi

Spread the potatoes in an even layer on the baking sheet and allow them to cool for 5 minutes.

Homemade Gnocchi

Transfer 16 oz of the warm potatoes to a bowl. You’ll have a bit of leftover potato – don’t be tempted to add it. Top the potatoes with the lightly beaten egg and use a fork to stir just until combined.

Homemade Gnocchi

Add 4 oz of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and gently mix into the potatoes just until no pockets of dry flour remain. The dough will not have come together, it’ll look crumbly.

Homemade Gnocchi

Gather the dough into a rough ball in the bowl.

Homemade Gnocchi

Transfer the ball to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 1 minute, or just until smooth. The dough should be slightly tacky, but if it’s sticking to the work surface as you knead, you can add a bit of additional flour.

Homemade Gnocchi

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and dust liberally with flour. Divide the dough into 8 pieces – don’t worry about making them all exactly the same size.

Homemade Gnocchi

Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it into a long rope about 1/2-inch in thickness. Add flour to the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut the rope into 3/4-inch pieces.

You can leave the gnocchi as they are and cook them just like that, but if you want to shape them so they have the traditional ridges, keep reading :)

Homemade Gnocchi

Homemade Gnocchi

Homemade Gnocchi

To shape them, all you need is a fork. Hold it with the tines facing down, and with one piece of dough at a time, press down with your thumb and roll the dough down the tines of the fork and over your thumb. You want to be assertive, but gentle as you do it. One side of the gnocchi will have the ridges and the other will have a small indentation (both are good for catching sauce!). If you have forks that are different sizes as we do, I found the longer ones were easier to use. It’ll take a little bit of practice to figure out this shaping, but once you do it’s really easy – promise!

{If you want to see this in more detail, you can find several videos on YouTube that demonstrate the process.}

Homemade Gnocchi

Transfer the shaped gnocchi to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. If you don’t want to cook the gnocchi immediately, you can place the baking sheet in the freezer (make sure the gnocchi aren’t touching) and once they’re frozen, transfer them to a resealable plastic bag for future use.

Homemade Gnocchi

To serve immediately:

Start by making the sauce – add the butter to a 12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat. Let it melt and then continue cooking, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter has browned and has a nutty aroma. Remove the pan from the heat and add the shallot and sage (I didn’t have sage on hand so just subbed parsley). Stir and cook (with the residual heat in the pan) for about 1 minute. Mix in the lemon juice and salt and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt to the boiling water. Cook the gnocchi in two separate batches – each will only take about 90 seconds. They will float to the top after about 1 minute and should be firm and cooked through when they’re done. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the gnocchi to the skillet with the sauce. Repeat with the other half of the gnocchi. Gently toss them with the sauce and serve.

Serves 2 to 3