Gnocchi and Me

January 6, 2011

I’ve tried to make gnocchi in the past with disastrous results. Another kitchen gadget I got for Christmas is a potato ricer, which apparently is absolutely essential in making gnocchi (all the recipes I’ve tried in the past have made it sound optional). So, with my ricer in hand, I was ready to dive back into gnocchi making. This recipe has been hanging around my recipe notebook for a long, long time and I was thrilled to finally give it a try.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Sage

1 1/4 lbs baking potatoes

1 (1/4 lb) sweet potato

1 egg

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/3 cup Parmesan

1 1/2 to 2 cups flour

1/3 cup olive oil

1 cup sage leaves

1 tbsp butter

Bake potatoes at 450 for 45 min to an hour until tender (I tried microwaving the potatoes in the past and it just doesn’t work – you have to bake them). Allow to cool, then peel and force through ricer onto a baking sheet. Spread into an even layer and allow to cool (I set mine outside and they cooled quickly). Mix egg, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl.

Gather potatoes in a mound on the baking sheet, making a well in the middle. Pour the egg mixture into the center and knead. Knead in cheese and 1 1/2 flour. Add more flour if needed and knead until it is smooth but slightly sticky.

Cut dough into 6 pieces. Roll each out into a rope about 1/2 inch thick, on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Boil a large pot of salted water and add half the gnocchi, cooking until it rises to the top, then cook the other half. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet until shimmery, then add the sage, frying until they turn a shade lighter and crisp. Drain on paper towels.

Remove the sage and add the butter to the oil, cooking until it browns. Add cooked gnocchi to the butter and cook a few minutes, tossing. Serve with sage leaves and extra Parmesan cheese.

The gnocchi turned out really, really well. I didn’t do anything other than cut it into pieces (no fussing with marks from a fork). I really loved the flavor of it – the sweet potato gave it a nice taste. It was light and not gummy (unlike my previous attempts). I didn’t get any flavor from the fried sage though, so that was disappointing. I want to try a butternut squash gnocchi next.

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“Simple” Potato Gnocchi

September 1, 2010

Oh, Martha. I should know better. The word “simple” is rarely used appropriately in your magazines. I was sucked in at the idea of “simple” gnocchi. I made gnocchi once a few years ago, for a family party. It took forever, and I wasn’t happy with it. Why did I think this would be different?

It was a crummy day here in Marthaland to begin with. The rider mower was broken again, so Mr. MarthaAndMe was push mowing the lawn, something that makes him (and thus everyone else) cranky. I was coming down with a cold. Teen Martha was in that icky weekend before school starts place. There wasn’t a good vibe to be found in the house. That didn’t stop me though. Gnocchi, why everyone loves gnocchi, I thought. Someone has got to stop me in the future.

It started out simply enough – cook 2 1/2 lb potatoes then peel the skins off and put through a ricer. I don’t have a ricer, so I googled what to do and it just said to mash with a masher then whisk. The whisking part did not work (it all got stuck in the whisk). Cool, then add salt, 1 and 3/4 cup flour and 1 egg. Knead until smooth but not elastic. This actually worked pretty well. Then you’re supposed to cut into 8 pieces and roll each out to a 24 inch long rope. I did this. Then cut it into 1/2 inch pieces. This was harder since the dough was kind of sticky when cut. Then roll it down the back of a fork. Ha! This didn’t work. It would stick to the fork, become odd-shaped, or get no indent at all. Flouring the fork helped, but did not solve it. Drop in boiling water and cook until they float. I did that too.

Making all of them took quite a while and the next morning I had weird muscle soreness in the backs of my arms from this.

I made a sauce of bacon, drippings, salt, pepper, 6 scallions, some Italian herbs and lots of parmesan cheese.

There was just one problem. The gnocchi were really soft. Mushy really. I tried browning them a bit and that made no difference. I usually buy my gnocchi frozen and boil them and they are slightly chewy, which is a texture I really like. I couldn’t get past the mushiness of these. And they didn’t taste any better or different than the ones I buy frozen. So, I vow never to make my own again. It took all afternoon and just made me cranky.

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