I love to cook. It’s therapeutic for me. I can easily lose myself in cutting and chopping, sautéing or roasting…. I don’t know what I think about when I’m in that world, but I know they’re calm and happy thoughts…and that’s because I’m doing what I love to do the most.
So, because I love to cook, it’s no surprise that I love to make comfort food. If you were to ask my kids what their most favorite comfort food I make for them….without hesitation, I know that they would say chicken corn chowder. They love it, and are always requesting it.
They say chicken corn chowder.
But I know better.
It’s been my experience over the years that when I make gnocchi, I can feel a growing excitement in the house. It’s not long after I put the riced potatoes onto the butcher block; that one, two, or all three of them come to hang out with me in the kitchen. It’s my favorite time, when we’re all together… when we talk and laugh, and even argue at times…but most importantly, they’re the memories that they’ll have into their adulthood, and will share someday with their own children. And they’re the memories that I will always cherish.
It used to be that they’d hang out in the kitchen a lot longer, but life called, and now they’re adults…so they only stay for a little while before they have to run and do their own thing. That’s totally ok, and I know that it won’t be long before I’m making a 10+ pound batch for them to come and pick up to bring home for their families…and I’m ok with that. And who knows? There might come a time when the roles are reversed…and I’m ok with that too. It’s called life. But they were there tonight, waiting patiently for the gnocchi to cook, and enjoyed them in a simple tomato sauce with meatballs and hard-boiled eggs (yes, hard-boiled eggs). Recipe will be posted tomorrow…
But for now, I’m completely content to make them in my kitchen, enjoying the company of my kids, even if it’s only for a few minutes, because that’s what it’s all about… life is good. Life is good with my kids…and gnocci.
It took me a few tries (ok, many, many tries….years) to get this recipe right. I think I was in my 20’s the first time I made gnocchi, and I even remember the recipe that I used… from the Frugal Gourmet’s cookbook. It called for two tablespoons of salt in the ingredient list, and if I had read through the directions, I would have seen that those two tablespoons of salt were supposed to go into the water to boil them in, not into the actual dough. Needless to say..they were a little salty. Ok, A LOT salty!! Can someone say “Play-doh”??
Honestly, I used to stress over gnocci…and I’m not sure when the light bulb went on over my head, but I know it was a few years of failures before I finally figured them out. Now, I don’t even need to measure…I know what the dough is supposed to look like, what it’s supposed to feel like…it’s like second nature.
If you’ve been trying to get the right gnocchi recipe, or even a little intimidated to try… this is the perfect recipe for you. It’s so easy.
The beauty of this recipe is that it makes enough gnocchi for a dinner for five people, and if you want to make more to freeze (because they freeze beautifully), you can double the recipe. Normally I’ll buy a 10 pound bag of potatoes and just spend a day making and freezing gnocci.
If you don’t have a potato ricer, mashed potatoes work just as well. As a matter of fact, use your left over mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving!
If you don’t have a gnocchi board to make the indentations in your gnocchi, you can use a fork instead, or even leave them plain. Sometimes I roll them on the board, and sometimes I leave them plain. Some people say that you need the indentations so that the sauce will stick to the gnocchi. I say boloney. The sauce sticks to the plain gnocchi just as good as it does to the indented.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and sprinkle with flour so that the gnocchi don’t stick. You will have several layers of gnocchi/parchment, just be sure to flour each layer of parchment.
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (you’ll want four cups of riced or mashed potatoes)
1 cup Romano cheese
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour
Boil the potatoes in a large pot of water until they become tender. Drain. At this point, you can either mash them with an electric mixer (don’t add anything to them, i.e. butter, milk..), or you can rice them.
If you mash them, make sure that there are no chunks of potato left. If you do, it’s really no big deal, you’ll just have chunks of potato in your gnocci… Believe me, I mashed them for years, and they turned out fine.
If you rice them, use a few cubes of potatoes at a time…rice them into a bowl. Set aside until they are cool enough to handle, because you’ll be mixing and kneading with your hands.
Pour the riced potatoes (4 cups) into a mound onto your floured work surface. Make a crater in the middle of the potatoes, and add the eggs, Romano cheese, and salt. Mix thoroughly with your hands. Add the flour, one cup at a time, kneading until incorporated. If the dough seems too sticky to make into a ball, add another ½ cup of flour. You don’t want to knead or handle the dough too much; otherwise you’ll end up with tough gnocchi.
Using a knife or a dough scraper, cut a slice of dough from the ball, and roll it into about a 1-inch diameter log. Cut the log into 2” pieces. Repeat until all of the dough has been made into gnocchi.
This next part is completely optional…
Holding the gnocchi board in one hand, and using your thumb with slight pressure… roll the gnocchi down the board quickly.
Place each gnocchi onto the prepared cookie sheet lined with floured parchment. You’ll probably end up with four layers of gnocchi on the one cookie sheet.
If you plan to cook them right away, bring a large pot of water to boil with generous sprinkling of salt (about a tablespoon). In small batches, boil the gnocchi for about three to five minutes…or until the gnocchi begin to float. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon. Don’t drain, because you’ll have a few more batches to cook.
Serve with your favorite sauce.
If you’re going to freeze them right away, put the whole cookie sheet of gnocchi into the freezer, and let freeze individually so that you can throw them into a baggie, without them sticking together. Don’t try to skip this step. If you try to freeze them without pre-freezing the gnocchi, you’ll end up with a big blob of dough. Been there, done that.