Gnocchi is probably the recipe that most reminds me of my paternal grandma, Mina. She used to make gnocchi for me every Wednesday for lunch and let me tell you, they were the best. They were soft, but not too soft, and she made them with melted butter, cheese and sage. They were simple, yet the most delicious dish in the world. I spent every Wednesday morning not paying attention in school because I was daydreaming about the plate of piping hot gnocchi that was waiting for me at lunch. they were that good.
Needless to say, my grandma didn’t have a proper recipe for her gnocchi. Like most cooks of her generation -she was born in 1908- she knew how to make them by heart and never knew the right doses. When asked how much flour we needed, her reply was “Enough.” Enough for the gnocchi to bind, but not so much that would make them doughy and hard. It really depends on the potatoes, on how moist they are. So I will give you general guidelines, but you need to “feel” the gnocchi in order to know when they are perfect. Don’t worry, you’ll get there. They will never be as good my Nonna Mina’s gnocchi, but hey… one can try, right?
2 pounds (scant 1 kilo) russet potatoes
about 1 cup all-purpose flour
Boil the potatoes, with their skin on, in abundant water until tender -about 45 minutes. Remove from water and peel. Using a potato ricer mash the potatoes in a mound on your working surface. Sprinkle with salt. Beat the egg and place it on top. Slowly add the flour as you work the dough with your hands. Work the dough until moist but not sticky.
Cut the dough into thick slices. Grab one slice at the time and roll it on your working surface (sprinkled with flour) until you have what my grandma called “dough snakes”, as thick as our thumb. Cut each snake into 3/4 inch long gnocchi.
Holding a fork in one hand gently but firmly roll each gnocchi down the fork’s tines, giving it a “C” shape and impressing the tines on one side of the gnocchi.
Heat a large pot of water and salt it as if for making pasta. When it boils cook gnocchi in batches. When they float on the surface they are cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a serving bowl until all gnocchi is cooked. Serve with your favorite sauce.
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