Friday, December 28, 2012

Gnocchi - the perfect potato pasta

It's actually pretty chilly in Texas right now. Good thing I'm headed to Mexico.

A cold front moved in right before Christmas, and it's now chilly enough to have the fireplace at a low roar.

Thank goodness. 

There's nothing I love more than a chilly day and a hearty meal. Especially when I've got a head cold the size of an elephant. 

For some reason, when I have a cold I just want to stuff my face with carbs - ok, fine. Even when I don't have a head cold I want to stuff my face with carbs. 

But at least with a cold I can sorta justify it. (And it just took me 3 beats to think of the word justify - so I know that my cold is in full swing. Come on brain!!). 

This sickness better disappear tomorrow! I've got a taco tour booked on Saturday and Lord help me if some cold thinks it's gonna slow me down. 

Back to the carbs. What better carbs than pasta? And what is the most carb-filled pasta on the planet? That which has not only regular flour but potato too?

Why, delicious gnocchi!

Some gnocchi is heavy and gummy and chewy. Not this stuff. It's a soft pillow of pasta, perfect for saucing with pesto. Or tomato sauce. Or any kind of sauce, really. 

Yay! Pasta! I'll have this cold kicked in no time.

Start with potatoes. Boil them. 

Then run them through a ricer or a food mill. 

Next up, make a well in your potato tower. 

Sprinkle the whole thing with flour and crack an egg in the middle. Add a bit of salt. 

Very briskly and gently work it together into a ball. Knead until smooth and not sticky. (Work in a sprinkle of flour at a time if it's still sticky)

Hack off a small ball. Roll into a long rope. 

Cut the rope into little ~1" bits. 

Roll the bits over the tines of a fork (you're creating ridges on one side and a dimple on the other so that the sauce can stick in the crevices).

Toss the gnocchi in boiling water for a minute or so until they float. 

Immediately transfer to a bowl full of ice water (you're shocking them to stop the cooking process).

Once the gnocchi are all cooked and in the ice bath, drain them. Toss them in a pan and coat them with vegetable oil. They can sit covered in the fridge for 48 hours before you use them.

To prepare a gnocchi dish, sautee the cooked gnocchi in a little bit of olive oil and toss in the pasta sauce. You're just browning their bottoms and warming them up. 

I typically sauce with pesto, but any pasta sauce of your choice (meat or no meat) will work beautifully. 

Barely adapted from Mario Batali

3 large potatoes (about 3 lbs)
2 1/2 c. flour (may need more, depending)
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt

Boil the potatoes whole, until soft (45 minutes to an hour). Drain and peel. Run through a ricer or food mill to achieve finely ground potatoes. Mound into a small mountain. Make a well in the middle of the mountain. 

Sprinkle 2 c. flour over the potatoes. Crack the egg into the well and sprinkle with salt. Use a fork to blend the egg into the flour and potatoes. Once the egg gets blended in, use your hands to knead the dough. Knead gently for 4 minutes, until ball is dry. Sprinkle more flour as needed. 

Pinch off a smallish ball. Roll into a long rope, about a 1/2" in diameter. Cut into ~1" bits. Roll the little bit on the tines of a fork to get ribs on the back and a dimple (from where your finger was) in the front. 

Boil the gnocchi for a minute or so, until they float. Remove from boiling water and dump into a big bowl of ice water. Work in batches until all gnocchi are in the ice bath. 

Drain the gnocchi and place in a large dish. Toss and coat in vegetable oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 48 hours). 

When ready for dinner, sautee gnocchi in a bit of olive oil until warmed through and slightly golden on one side. Toss in sauce. Serve!

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