I have been making gnocchi for many years, but I never stick to one recipe. I’ve experimented with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, ricotta and even spinach. This recipe is definitely going to get a recall and will be added to my list of favorites. I agree with April, who says once you’ve made gnocchi a few times you shouldn’t need to measure, rather add ingredients by “feel.” But a good, solid no- fail recipe is a great way to start and this is that recipe.
This chef’s secret is to use baked russet potatoes. You CAN boil or steam your potatoes but it should be noted that if you use this method, it is important not to overcook as the potato will absorb too much water and you will need to add too much flour, resulting in heavy, doughy and undesirable gnocchi.
Baked russets results in a thick, soft potato dumpling, boiled then gently panfried leaving a crispy outer texture and a light centre. One of the best I’ve ever had.
Fresh Herb and Parmesan Gnocchi
3 lbs russet potatoes
2 cups all purpose flour
5 egg yolks
1 ½ cups parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Wash the potatoes and remove any eyes. Pierce the skin with a fork and place potatoes on a baking tray. Bake the potatoes for 1½ hours or until very tender and slightly browned on the outside.
Take the potatoes out of the oven and immediately cut the potatoes in half. Scoop the flesh of the potato into a bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the potatoes until smooth like mashed potatoes. Add all of the flour and mix slowly until fully incorporated. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Blanching the gnocchi will be the next step. But first you will need a large pot with boiling salted water. The water should taste salty in order to know you have enough salt in the water.
To form the gnocchi, you don’t need a fancy mechanism. Use your hands to roll the gnocchi dough into a rope about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Take a sharp knife and the cut the rope into ½ inch pieces. I find using no flour at all to roll out the dough gives a better shape to the gnocchi. But after cutting the gnocchi, heavily dust the dumplings with flour to prevent sticking. Roll and cut all the dough before blanching.
To start blanching, prepare a sheet pan coated with a generous amount of olive oil. Gently drop a few handfuls of gnocchi in to the salted boiling water. When the dumplings start to float immediately remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on the oiled sheet pan. Cooling the gnocchi quickly prevents over cooking and therefore will not be mushy. Place into refrigerator immediately.
To get that beautiful crispy outer layer, brown a little butter in a pan and add the cooled gnocchi to it. Toss the pan slightly to coat the dumpling evenly. Allow it to cook another minute to crisp up a little…
Toss in Parmesan cheese or fresh tomato sauce and top with torn basil.
Note: You can make gnocchi ahead of time and freeze individually on the sheet pan. Once frozen, they can be stored in containers or Ziploc bags.