The kids are off school, it’s summer, and they have a cousin visiting from out of town. What to do when the record high heat outside is unbearable? Stay inside and make gnocchi. I love to involve the kids whenever I can in the kitchen, and this is the perfect activity for all ages. They sat and chatted, shared stories, reminisced “about when”, giggled, encouraged, complimented and helped each other accomplish this huge task. It was wonderful to watch them sit in this small circle and make food with their hands (with strict instructions not to touch any body parts!). Two hours later, they made a thousand pieces and exchanged a thousand stories.
There is no measured recipe for this. You have to wing it. Really, it’s foolproof. More flour, the firmer the texture. Less flour and a fluffier texture. We had both versions, and both were well received by the little food critics.
Take 5 large russet baking potatoes. Scrub and boil with skins on. When they are tender, plunge in cold water and peel skins off.
Fluff and mash your potatoes, removing as many lumps as possible. If you have a food mill, even better.
Drop a raw egg into hot mashed potato and stir it in quickly before it cooks. This will be the only liquid added. And don’t forget to season with a small palm-pinch of salt.
The kids mixing up a separate batch with left over mashed potatoes.
Add flour, a cup at a time and work into the potato. Keep kneading and adding flour. I didn’t give you an amount as it will vary, depending on how much water is in your potatoes. I think I added about 2-1/2 cups of flour. Add just enough flour to get a bit of spring and elasticity in the dough. It won’t look or feel like mashed potatoes anymore. If it’s too sticky, add more flour. Try to keep dough as light on the flour as possible for a fluffy not stodgy gnocchi.
Working in small batches, pinch off some dough and roll to 3/4″ diameter. Cut into small bite size pieces.
You can roll onto this gnocchi paddle.
If you don’t have a paddle, you can also use a fork. You can even just slice it and forget the rolling part. It all comes out tasting the same.
Lay gnocchi on lined cookie sheet and put in the freezer. Once frozen, store in large ziplock bags, but cook fresh if you can. Drop in boiling water, when it floats, lift it out with a slotted spoon and dump into your favourite sauce.
This sauce is just 2 cloves of chopped garlic sauteed in olive oil with about 8 anchovies. Smash it all up in the pan with your wooden spoon until the anchovy mushes down into a sauce. Add a litre of home made tomato sauce and simmer. Remember, to simmer sauce for at least 10 mins before you add your cooked gnocchi.
Add a slab of butter, about 1/4 cup, into the pan and mix everything together on low heat.
The sauce in gnocchi pan will naturally thicken from the flour. Turn off heat, add some grated parmasan cheese and fresh basil, toss lightly and serve. You can make a big pot as a main meal, or smaller portion as a side dish.
The kids gobbled this all up, even after I told them about adding anchovies to the sauce. The 5-potato gnocchi made 6 very full servings.