Mike DeSimone's Potato Gnocchi

(small batch – all measurements approximate)

2 lbs of whole large Russet potatoes, unpeeled (very important)
2 cups flour (more or less)
1 egg
1 tablespoon salt

(Another variation is 5lbs flour, 5lbs Russet potatoes, a couple of eggs, table spoon olive oil, salt to taste – real big batch!)

NOTE WELL: It is important to choose the right type of potato. The potato needs to be floury, with minimum water content. IMPORTANT: The best are old Russet potatoes, low in water and high in starch. Round (white or red) or Yukon potatoes would be too waxy, which would make the gnocchi either too heavy or too gummy, or would cause them to break apart in the boiling water. The addition of egg to the dough, not always necessary, serves the purpose of holding the preparation together better. The choice of the right potato potentially makes the use of the eggs optional. I recommend the egg.

The potatoes can be baked in the oven, but are better boiled. Do not peel them first, but boil them with the skin on. This will avoid absorption of excess water. For the same reason, don’t break or pierce them. Too much water will cause the dough to absorb too much flour and make the gnocchi too heavy. Potatoes for gnocchi can also be cooked in the microwave – non-traditional, but works very well if potato is cooked thoroughly.

Peel the potatoes while they are still hot, remove any blemishes. Make a mound of riced or really smashed potatoes, put the flour on top, and put an indentation in the flour to beat the egg. Don’t add egg directly to the hot potatoes. Don’t overwork the dough and don’t add too much flour. Cut into softball size balls, roll a “rope” 1” thick, cut 1 inch chunk on the Julienne (diagonally), press with thumb, twist and spin off to create a dimple in each one.

Gnocchi do not keep for long after they are prepared and they must be cooked soon. They can be kept covered on a floured cloth for few hours. Soon after they may start releasing their moisture content and become gummy and sticky. Placing them in the refrigerator will not help since the humidity present there may cause additional damage.

Gnocchi instead can be easily frozen shortly after being made on a cookie sheet separated from each other so as not to clump. Drop frozen gnocchi directly in the boiling water without defrosting: cooked fresh or frozen, they will be ready when they surface, so scoop them out as the float up to the top – do not vigorously stir, but occasionally check gently with a spoon to make sure they are not stuck to the bottom of the pot.

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