Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gnocchi!!

I had leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner, so of course I made gnocchi with them. 

Doesn't everyone?

Gnocchi are God's gift to humanity, manifested in small lumps of potato-laden, eggy dough.  Lord, thank you!

Making gnocchi is really a process that is better suited to video than text, so I'll merely give the recipe here, and eventually I'll create a video to show how they're made.

Gnocchi di patate
4 c leftover mashed potatoes
4 eggs
4-6 c all-purpose flour

Measure out the potatoes into a large bowl.  Add the eggs and mix well.  You probably won't need salt for these, as the potatoes were already well seasoned when they were served the first time.

Add 4 cups of flour to the potato mixture.  Mix it well with your hands until it comes together as a dough.  Depending on how moist your potatoes are, the dough might need more flour until it is no longer sticky.  Turn out the dough onto a floured pastry board, and give it a few kneads.  If it is still sticky, add some flour until it is no longer sticky.  At this point you can return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it sit for a few hours until you're ready to make the gnocchi.

Cut the ball of dough into 8 equal-sized pieces.  Roll each piece into a log about the diameter of your thumb.  Use ample flour so that it does not stick.

Cut the log into small dumplings, about the size of a big, fat grape.  Again, flour the surface as necessary so the gnocchi don't stick.

Roll each dumpling gently across the floured surface of the board with your index and middle finger, in order to create a 'dent' in the surface.  This 'dent' increases surface area, allowing for better cooking and more area onto which sauce can cling.  (Gnocchi can and are sometimes called 'cavatelli,' which means 'little things that have been gouged.'  Romantic, huh?)  Alternately you can roll the gnocchi on the tines of a fork, which creates a ridged pattern.  Either method works fine, but my grandmothers always used their fingers, so I do, too.

Once you have rolled a whole log into dented dumplings, sprinkle them lightly with flour, toss them with the flour, and remove them to a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil.

Once you get a sheet pan-full of dumplings, you can freeze them on the sheet pan, and when fully frozen, store them in a zip-top bag for future use.

If you're going to use them right away, boil them in ample salted water until they float, strain out, and serve with a light tomato sauce, a hearty Bolognese-style meat sauce, or with browned butter and sage. 

For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful!  Amen to that!

P.S.  The photo in today's entry is not of my own gnocchi, but of gnocchi gratinè, which I had in a bistro in Paris earlier this year.  Specializing in Italian food.  Run by Arabs.  OK!

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